As we face our sixteenth week of lockdown, restlessness and cabin fever is intensifying by the day. Many of us are craving a change of scenery, far removed from the four walls that we have been stuck inside since 23 March.
Dreams of escape have kept us going, along with the hope of the return of some normality. But with the end of lockdown now in sight, and as countries’ borders begin to reopen, will we be able to go on holiday? And if so, what will the reality of going abroad during a global pandemic be like?
The two-week quarantine for anyone entering the UK, enforced since 8 June, has received major backlash from MPs, airline companies and the general public alike. An expert warned that the two-week quarantine on travellers coming into the UK would cost the economy £650 million a week. But travel restrictions are now beginning to ease. The Foreign Office’s warning against non-essential travel is being lifted for specified countries, and so the prospect of a summer holiday is becoming more real.
Quarantine on arrival is still mandatory in certain countries, deterring many tourists. Yet, some countries are advocating for COVID-19 testing in airports rather than a two-week quarantine. Other countries are debating ‘air bridges’, allowing for quarantine free travel. Around 60 countries are set to become ‘air bridges’ with the UK from 10 July, meaning that Brits could soon be able to travel freely across most of Europe without having to quarantine on arrival or return.
In 2019, 72.6 million trips were taken abroad by UK residents. Yet, these stats are predicted to drop significantly this year and aren’t likely to rise back to previous levels for the foreseeable future.
Some airlines are resuming international flights, encouraging many holiday-makers to travel abroad. Noel Josephides, chairman of tour operator Sunvil, said flight prices could be low at first to stimulate demand. But, due to the pandemic, demand is likely to remain low.
The lack of tourism during the Corona pandemic will hit the world economy hard, as the sector brings in 10.4% of the global GDP. With the travel and tourism sector suffering massive losses because of COVID-19, some countries that rely heavily on tourism are offering incentives to visit. The Italian island of Sicily, for example, is offering to cover half of the airfares and a third of hotel costs.
Despite the possibility of overseas travel, many Brits are likely to opt for a ‘staycation’ this summer, to avoid the confusing web of international regulations. For many, staying in Britain will seem easier and safer than travelling abroad.
Campsites, caravan parks, and hotels reopened in the UK on 4 July, but with limited capacity due to strict social distancing rules. We have already seen thousands gather on the British beaches during the May and June heatwaves. With fewer people going abroad this summer, we are likely to see many more flock to the British coast in the coming months.
The summer of 2020 is still somewhat unclear, but there is certainly hope for holidays overseas if COVID-19 cases continue to fall and lockdown measures continue to ease. So don’t let go of your holiday dreams just yet.