From travel corridor changes and quarantine to entry requirements and expensive COVID-19 tests, this year has brought an array of trials and tribulations when it comes to jetting off on holiday. Despite travel bans around the world, however, it seems Spain has held its place as a much-loved holiday hotspot for British tourists.
Ryan Pearson, regional manager at Booking.com spoke with Express.co.uk to explain some unexpected travel trends the company has noticed this year.
“With COVID-19 set to reshape the way we will travel for many years to come; new trends have and shall continue to emerge due to travelers’ ever-changing preferences,” he said.
“When looking at destinations, there is no denying that this year has been the year of staycations, with local travel rising to the fore as it remains easier, safer and happily often more sustainable.”
However, though the UK “topped the list of most popular countries booked by Britons this summer”, there were some other favourites which remained on the list.
These include Spain, Italy and France despite the fact all of these nations, at some point or another, found themselves in the eye of the coronavirus storm.
Each country now has strict entry requirements for Britons, though these have not been in place all year.
What’s more, even despite a ban on all travel in November, millions of holidaymakers still had a chance to jet off this year.
“While the UK topped the list of most popular countries booked by Brits this summer, the next most popular country booked by Britons was France, followed by Italy, Spain and Ireland, demonstrating that even though some adventurous Britons still travelled abroad to find their travel happiness, they stayed well within the comforts of their continental sphere,” continued Mr Pearson.
However, the way in which Britons have travelled this year has been very different to years gone by.
Though hotels were once the centre point of a vacation, it seems concerns over the spread of coronavirus have changed this.
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“We have certainly noticed a shift in traveller’s preferences and can expect them to have specific requirements when it comes to their accommodation choices going forward,” said Mr Pearson.
“With a renewed emphasis on privacy, sufficient space and personal control over cleanliness and hygiene, we will see travellers look for accommodation ‘closer to home’ with 42 percent preferring to stay in a vacation home or apartment rather than in a hotel, contrasting 2019 when 64 percent of travelers favored staying in a hotel.”
Camping, both at home and abroad, has also peaked.
“Further to this, our research earlier this year revealed that Brits were more likely to have opted for a Chalet than they were last year, followed by camping stays and holiday homes, which all topped the rankings of the trending accommodation types for British travellers this summer,” said Mr. Pearson.
“When looking back at the end of 2019, before we knew that our 2020 travel plans would be clouded by a global pandemic, only nine percent of Britons were intending to stay at a campsite this year, while 70 percent were anticipating staying in traditional hotels.”
Though travel industry insiders want to help reignite the sector, which has suffered amid the waves of COVID-19, they accept it must be done in a “safe” manner.
“At Booking.com, we know that travel is fundamental to who we are. It is enriching, allows us to experience new places/cultures, make incredible memories and so much more,” said Mr Pearson.
“Therefore, any government agreements that can be put in place which enable travel to resume in a safe and sustainable manner, are ones that we are in support of.”
Travel corridors mean that Britons who visit destinations where infection rates are deemed “unsafe” must quarantine on their return home.
Thanks to the new ‘test to release” scheme, however, this can be reduced to five days if a traveller can provide a negative coronavirus test which has been sourced privately from a Government approved agency.
Tourists must also be sure they follow the guidelines presented by international governments.
For example, in Spain arrivals must present a negative coronavirus test taken no more than 72 hours before travel. This must be a PCR, TMA of LAMP test.
They must also fill out a Health Control Form 28 hours prior to travel.
Though there may be more preparation involved, it seems plenty of holidaymakers are still willing to endure it in exchange for some much-needed sunshine.
Furthermore, Booking.com says it is confident about the demand for travel in the future.
“During recent lockdowns, two-thirds (65 percent) of travelers reported being excited about travelling again, while 61 percent indicated they are more appreciative of travel and will likewise not take it for
granted in the future,” concluded Mr. Pearson.