Comment: UK’s lockdown actions pose threat to global travel operators

GlobalData travel and tourism analyst Johanna Bonhill-Smith says UK tourists may not travel abroad

The Ritz London
The Ritz London

The prospect of a 14-day quarantine upon returning to the UK casts serious doubt over the future of short breaks, causing a great deal of concern for travel operators.

According to the GlobalData’s Q3 2019 UK consumer survey, 45% of respondents said they typically take a city break. However, a 14-day quarantine means such trips will not be considered viable due to the extra demand it will place on annual leave for many people. Currently, there is much concern among operators as many urge industry leaders to ‘abandon quarantine’. 

If stringent quarantine measures are enforced, all travel operators will be affected, but smaller, independent agencies with a focus on city experiences may be most at risk. 

Operators should look to be proactive and adjust strategies to invest in the domestic market where possible. Rather than opting to go abroad for a few days, UK tourists will likely seek to explore destinations at home. This will avoid the need to spend more time in isolation after nearly three months in lockdown, and will still offer operators the chance to generate sufficient revenue to survive during this uncertain time.

The rise of low cost carriers (LCC’s) such as Ryanair and EasyJet has enabled short city breaks and cultural stops to become more easily accessible over the years. Cities such as Paris, Barcelona, Venice and Budapest lure UK travellers through being easily accessible and offering an array of experiences at affordable prices.

If the quarantine rules are imposed as planned, the consequences will be felt across the whole travel sector, but short international city breaks are likely to be most affected.

About the author – Johanna Bonhill-Smith is part of GlobalData’s travel and tourism division, frequently analysing and commenting on the evolving industry.

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