With most Covid-related restrictions lifted and the ‘pingdemic’ set to ease drastically on 16th August, as fully vaccinated individuals avoid having to isolate following contact with someone that tests positive, one of the final remaining frontiers in the fight for normality is international travel.
The current rules for international travel generally depend on the colour grade assigned to the country of origin (red, amber or green), your vaccination status and where your vaccine was administered. To add to the complexity, the colour grading of foreign destinations can change with little notice. All in all, the worst case scenario (red country arrival) will see a traveller spending 10 days in a quarantine hotel upon arrival in the UK, while the best case (a vaccinated traveller with accepted proof of vaccination or one from a green destination) will still require you to take a pre-departure test and a day two post-arrival PCR test.
Compared to many neighbouring countries which have taken a much more relaxed approach, even the best case scenario for international travel is still pretty onerous, meaning many potential visitors are still choosing to stay away.
In the second half of 2019, international visitors to England spent a cumulative £14.4bn during their visits. In the same period of 2020, this number was roughly 80% lower. Should the current restrictions remain in place throughout the rest of 2021, Cebr expects spending by international visitors to stand at £3.7bn – up on the 2020 value but still £10.7bn lower than in pre-pandemic times.
The majority of this shortfall – £6.6bn – will come from London. The capital is far more popular with international travellers than domestic visitors. In 2019, it accounted for 63% of England’s total international visitor expenditure, while representing just 16% of expenditure by domestic overnight travellers. This means tourist-dependent businesses in the capital find themselves in an unenviable position, with few foreign visitors arriving and staycationers opting for seaside and countryside spots in other parts of the country.
Other regions will be better placed to plug the international traveller gap with domestic visitors, as illustrated in the below table. In those areas, domestic traveller expenditure is higher than pre-pandemic norms, thus reducing the scale of the overall shortfall. For instance, Cebr expects expenditure by all visitors (international plus domestic overnight visits) in the second half of this year to reach as high as 83% of pre-pandemic norms in the South West, while standing at just 38% for London.
The economic implications of continued strict limits on international travel are far reaching, especially as the rest of society opens up en masse, and the government accordingly begins winding down support, most notably the furlough scheme. Tourism-dependent businesses in areas such as Cornwall and Devon are seeing a boost from domestic travellers which is offsetting the lack of international ones. However, tourism-dependent businesses in London and other areas less popular with staycationers, are now at a notable disadvantaged compared to their counterparts across most other industries which have seen nearly all restrictions lifted.
For more information please contact:
Nina Skero, Chief Executive Email: email@example.com Mobile: 07930695728