The Covid crisis has all-but wiped out many Europeans’ winter travel plans according to a new European Travel Commission (ETC) poll, but the proportion of UK respondents looking to travel is on the up.
Although nearly half of all 5,832 respondents said they intended to travel by mid-2021, albeit while uncertain about exactly when, just 17% said they planned to travel by the end of January, down 21% from the previous survey which ran to 9 October.
The ETC’s latest monthly survey, covering sentiment in November, polled people in the UK, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, Poland and Austria.
It found the number of respondents planning to travel over the next six months fell from 54% in October to 49% in November; at the same time, the proportion not making any travel plans increased to 18%.
Worryingly for the UK travel sector, the latest data found British respondents displaying the least desire to travel over the next six months of all markets surveyed.
Nearly four in 10 of those surveyed in the UK said it was unlikely or very unlikely they would travel in the next six months, up from 36.1% in the ETC’s second survey (21 September to 9 October) and from 34.3% in its first survey (27 August to 15 September).
However, outbound travel intent in the UK has steadily increased between each survey, while domestic travel intent has declined; 41.3% of respondents to the ETC’s first survey said they would travel within their own country, falling to 39.3% in its second and 36.3% in its third.
By contrast, in the first ETC survey, 33.8% said their next trip would be to another European country, rising to 35.8% in the second survey and 36.4% in the third.
Intent among UK travellers to travel outside Europe has also increased, up from 9.1% in the first survey to a steady 9.9% in the ETC’s second and third surveys.
Recent surges in Covid cases and uncertainty around travel requirements and restrictions were cited as the two main reasons for people putting their travel plans on hold.
Quarantine measures remain the primary concern, cited by 15% of respondents, followed by fear of falling ill in-destination and rising incidence of Covid, both polling at 13%.
Health and safety, meanwhile, continues to be the main consideration when it comes to making travel plans, rising for those aged 55 and above.
Additionally, respondents said air travel and public transport – to and in-destination – continue to be regarded the least safe aspects of travel, flagged by 19% and 14% of respondents respectively.
Travel within Europe is preferred, with domestic travel and intra-European travel both polling at 38% in terms of respondents’ preference.
Some 63% of respondents said their primary motivation for travel in the short-term would be for leisure, while another 22% said it would be to visit friends and family. Business travel accounted for 9% of travel intention.
European travellers, despite the greater incidence of Covid infection in metropolitan areas, continue to be the most favoured trip (39%), followed by nature and outdoor holidays (15%) and cultural or heritage tourism (14%).
More than half (55%) of respondents said they intended to fly to their next destination, while more than a third (37%) indicated they would prefer to travel by car.