European tourists are busy booking summer trips while Britons are being told to stay home, angering the UK’s travel industry as it lags behind its continental neighbours.
Flight bookings for holiday hot spots like Spain and Greece have boosted the revival of air travel from countries across the European Union since early May. Bookings for flights within the European Union reached nearly 50 percent of pre-pandemic levels in June, according to data provider ForwardKeys.
But the same pattern has not emerged in the UK, where the government is discouraging outbound tourism and urging people to take “residence” instead, despite a rapid vaccination launch in the country.
ForwardKeys said flights from the UK to the EU were at just 20 per cent of their pre-crisis level.
The UK government this month reduced the number of countries it considers safe to visit and no major holiday destinations are now on the so-called “green” list. He argued that a “safety first approach” would help ease local restrictions more quickly.
Unlike the UK, travel restrictions within the European Union are set to be eased from 1 July with the introduction of Digital Health Permits, which will allow people to travel freely if they have been vaccinated, recover from Covid-19 or have negative evidence. Exam.
Flight bookings from customers in France, Germany, Spain and Italy were up 110 percent in May from the previous month and headed steadily higher, with the most popular destinations including Palma, Ibiza and Crete, according to separate data from the flight search company. Skyscanner.
Bookings from the UK rose 74 per cent last month, but much of it was to Portugal, which has since been removed from the “green list” of countries considered safe for travel abroad. Since the country was taken off the list, the upward trend in UK bookings has stalled, Skyscanner said.
The rise of the two-speed travel industry has led some airlines to reroute planes away from the UK to the European Union.
Johan Lundgren, CEO of easyJet, told the Financial Times that his company added an additional 150,000 seats over the summer to its network within Europe.
The company has also moved capacity, including diverting flights to Palma Mallorca from the UK to Germany.
“[The] The easing of restrictions and the removal of restrictions has led to positive booking momentum across Europe, with the majority of our bookings showing a strong swing towards Europe while in normal times it would be a 50-50 split with the UK,” Lundgren said.
“Europe is showing that safely reopening travel is possible, and so we continue to urge the UK government to do so urgently,” he said.
Andrew Flintham, managing director of the UK arm of Europe’s largest tour operator, TUI, said the UK “risks becoming a home-stay nation”.
“European countries are watching us with bewilderment. My counterparts in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands are now seeing travel possible again, with strong summer bookings and pent-up demand for travel that we know is in the UK too.”
Europe’s largest online travel company, eDreams Odigeo, said May bookings for the June holiday increased 56 per cent month-on-month in the UK after the government’s first announcement of a list of safe countries, but confidence has since fallen.
Meanwhile, the UK government has this week drawn up a plan to boost domestic tourism. Initiatives include a £10m scheme funded by the National Lottery to offer free tickets to off-peak season attractions and a rail pass similar to ‘Interrail’ tickets that can be purchased for rail travel in Europe.
“I encourage everyone to rediscover the wonderful tourism offer the UK has to offer,” said Nigel Huddleston, Minister of Tourism.
No additional support was announced for the outbound travel sector as restrictions remain.
AirlinesUK, the industry lobby group, wrote last week to UK chancellor Rishi Sunak to demand new support for British airlines as the prospect of losing another summer grows.
Additional reporting by Mehreen Khan in Brussels