One in five people cast aside worries over Covid – and defied repeated warnings from politicians and experts to stay at home – in order to take an overseas holiday in the past year, reveals research released today (Monday 1 November) by WTM London.
Results from the WTM Industry Report, which polled 1,000 UK consumers, reveal 21% of Brits took a holiday of seven days or more in the 12 months to August 2021, with 4% of those having both an overseas trip AND a staycation.
A further 29% took a staycation only, while 51% did not go on holiday at all in the past year, reveals the report released at WTM London.
Those who ventured abroad for a seven-day break or longer did so despite repeated pleas from Government ministers and health advisers not to travel, amid fears Covid could spread further.
At various times in the past 18 months, travel both within and from the UK has been halted because of Covid, including during much of the first three months of 2021, when overseas travel was illegal.
Even when overseas travel was permitted, Government ministers and medical experts repeatedly urged people to forego their annual overseas holiday in order to help contain Covid.
In June 2020, former Health Minister Helen Whately told Brits they should “look carefully” before booking foreign holidays; in January 2021, former Health Secretary Matt Hancock advised people to plan for a “great British summer” and the then-Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said it was “too early” for Brits to book summer breaks overseas. Former Environmental Secretary George Eustice repeatedly maintained he had “no intention of travelling or going on a holiday abroad”, while Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in May that British holidaymakers should not go to amber-list countries except in “extreme” circumstances.
The hassle and cost of Covid tests, as well as confusion over the traffic light system – not least the risk of last-minute changes that saw holidaymakers dashing home to the UK to avoid quarantine – clearly did not put those pining for an overseas holiday off.
More people from London holidayed abroad in the last 12 months than from any other UK region, with 41% saying they had taken an overseas holiday of seven days or more and only 36% saying they hadn’t had a holiday at all.
Those least likely to have taken an overseas holiday were from the North East, with 63% of people from this region saying they had not had a holiday at all, just 13% saying they’d taken an overseas holiday and 25% saying they’d taken a staycation.
WTM London Exhibition Director Simon Press said: “The results speak for themselves – the traditional overseas summer holiday is seen by many Brits as a necessity, not a luxury, and few were prepared to give up their seven or 14 days in the sun over the past 12 months because of concerns over Covid.
“That’s despite having to take expensive Covid tests, risk traffic-light changes and go against a barrage of advice from leaders to stay at home.”