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Is COVID Holding Back People Going Abroad?

Being part of an island nation international travel is hugely important to the United Kingdom especially in this day and age.

Not only is the world ever more interconnected from a business perspective but it is the same from a personal and family perspective.

More and more of todays families include people who consider themselves ‘international citizens of the world’ and set up base in countries other than that of their birth.

We came across Mike Doran of a local based estate agency on the Costa Blanca, Spain and he has been surprised with the level of enquiries that he has received over the last few months coming out of COVID.

The widely respected Statista site currently has pages showing an analysis of trips outside the UK in 2019 and 2020 at the link over here.

Although there was, as we all know, a dramatic drop in traveller numbers between 2019 and 2020 the key point to call out here is the reason for travel and their relative proportions.

As can be seen for both years in order of highest numbers first they are holiday, visiting friends and relatives and business.

These proportions are pretty stable and likely to remain so.

It has become widely accepted that a break abroad is beneficial, and if you can afford it, close to essential for your mental well being in the hurly burly of todays ever more busy world and the work/life balance stress imposed on many.

We touched already on the fact that many people have members in their immediate family who are part of a diaspora generation that ups sticks and moves country permanently for a variety of reasons.

The SARS Covid-19 pandemic has, in the past at the very least, impacted travel negatively in several ways.

Before we look at whether this is still the case there is value in identifying each of these aspects.

Destination Border Restrictions

At the height of the pandemic most countries of the world instituted some form of restrictions on incoming visitors.

That may have varied from outright refusal to enter to some form or state mandated quarantine or a requirement to show evidence of vaccination status.

Naturally if unable to enter a country there is little you can do however even having to quarantine on arrival at your destination for whatever reason gave many people pause for thought about whether or not to travel.

In some cases, as well as time cost there was additional financial impact in terms of payment for facilities or potential lost working time.

The perception that rules were changing regularly and at a moments notice tended to put people off as well.

Testing Costs

Travel abroad, depending on the destination, has at times involved multiple costly tests, both pre departure, on arrival, post return and at a variety of points in between.

Quarantine on Return

Depending on the vaccination status of an individual and how the country visited was classified by the government there were varying requirements for quarantine on return to the United Kingdom with the most onerous being a costly stay in a government mandated hotel for a period of ten days.

Current Reality

It may seem that we have painted a gloomy picture for travel for as long as the pandemic is with us.

This is, however, a restricted picture of what is actually happening on the ground and the reality is far more nuanced than that.

Countries globally are starting to come to terms with the fact that we now need to live with this new virus as we have done with others over the years.

Populations are becoming more and more resistant.

We have an ever expanding, worldwide vaccination program of hitherto unprecedented proportions that is helping with this.

Others are becoming immune by virtue of having been exposed to the virus itself.

So real biological protection levels are growing.

Medical understanding of how to treat infections and mitigate the symptoms is getting better every day it seems.

Coupled with this there is also a greater degree of psychological comfort amongst the population.

As the impacts of vaccination, treatment, and a recognition of the fact that it will be with us much like the flu, measles, mumps, or other endemic viruses get absorbed into the minds of people there is more confidence.

Governments, especially in the developed world and in European countries in particular, are starting to ease travel restrictions for all of the reasons above and also to help drive and stimulate their economies.

After close to two years people are once again starting to enjoy their holidays abroad, especially to Europe where there is the ability to get there quickly, levels of control are broadly similar, and countries are opening up.

In fact, the Schengen Visa Info website states that the Spanish tourist sector in particular has had a 78% increase in visitor numbers this year compared to last year.

This would seem to imply that people are flocking back to Spain at least which has always been a top destination of UK holiday visitors.

To confirm whether this was reflected by people’s perceptions on the ground we approached Rick Perez who is a contributor to the popular Javea News site and asked what his experience was.

“We are definitely seeing a huge up tick in the number of UK visitors we are getting in the area now. Holidays is the number one reason for people coming but we are also hearing reports that enquires at local estate agents from British people have started to pick up once more.”

This certainly seems to validate the official statistics.