Consumer research across nine major travel markets suggests almost one in five travellers believe it is safe to travel and almost one in four in the UK would be happy to travel to a destination without restrictions regardless of Foreign Office advice.
The survey by consultancy firm Oliver Wyman found travellers in the UK, France, Germany and Canada more likely to be planning an international trip than a domestic break for their next holiday, while respondents in the US, Spain, Italy, China and Australia were more likely to plan domestic trips.
However, while about half the respondents said they would be comfortable taking a flight, only 43% in the UK would do so, with 37% “uncomfortable” about flying.
The proportion comfortable to stay in a hotel was also significantly lower in the UK at 48% compared with 60% across all respondents.
Less than one third said they would be comfortable using public transport or ride sharing on a trip, but in the UK more than 40% remained comfortable to use public transport.
The survey found price remains the number-one influence on consumer choice, followed by cleaning and treatment of travellers except in China where aircraft cleaning and treatment outranked price.
Travellers viewed cleaning and face masks as the most important health and safety measures, but 40% said they would prefer an empty seat next to them on an aircraft.
The study, for a report entitled Anticipating the Recovery, was based on research among 4,600 adults who flew at least once in 2019 in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the US, Canada, China and Australia.
It found almost 20% of respondents “think it is safe to travel now” and 23% In the UK said they would travel to a country that has lifted restrictions despite a travel warning.
Almost two thirds of respondents (63%) said they expect to travel the same or more when the Covid pandemic is over.
However, 43% of respondents who travel for business said they plan to travel less in future and in the UK 50% said they would travel less for business.
Almost one third of business travellers (30%) said they expect to shorten their trips when possible.
The results do suggest sentiment towards cruise has improved from a low point at the start of the pandemic with respondents now as comfortable taking a cruise as attending a convention, a concert or a sporting event.
Oliver Wyman aviation partner Michael Khan said: “UK travellers are increasingly looking forward to going abroad on holiday again or travelling to see friends and family.
“With nearly a quarter shifting away from official guidance and restrictions on travel, it is important for governments to have clear communication on the risks and for airlines to provide adequate safety measures.”
But Khan added: “The new national lockdown and international travel ban will likely have the effect of increasing the perceived risks of travel and of flying as the pandemic continues to surge.”
Fellow aviation partner Bruce Spear said: “Personal judgement is now the leading factor for deciding to travel.
“The travel industry must focus on measures that increase individual customer safety such as mandatory masks, cleaning and rapid testing and not wait for governments to issue directives.”
The survey was conducted in September and October. The full results are due to be published this month.
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