The UK Government is in talks to create air bridges with specific European countries, including Spain, Italy, Greece, France, Turkey and Croatia. Air bridges would enable British holidaymakers to travel abroad without having to quarantine on their return. This will be valuable for the European tourism sector as a whole.

Spain previously announced there would be no 14-day quarantine for inbound travellers, but UK tourists returning home currently have to quarantine for 14 days. The current agreement discourages UK tourists from travelling internationally as they do not want to be confined to their homes for 14 days upon return. Many will still have responsibilities such as work.

Operators such as TUI will see the economic benefits if the air bridges are confirmed in the coming weeks. Pent-up demand will have been created by the tourists who were waiting to book a holiday until it was confirmed that they would not have to quarantine once back in the UK. According to GlobalData’s week 10 Covid-19 UK consumer survey, 50% of respondents said they ‘strongly’ or ‘somewhat’ agree that they have cancelled or changed international plans. This emphasises that UK travellers will be eager to book holidays when the rules are relaxed.

However, many UK travellers may still have concerns regarding their safety when travelling abroad, especially to destinations such as Spain where the virus has caused over 28,000 deaths. Although this figure is not as bad as the UK’s, it may cause doubts with those who are concerned about the presence of the virus. According to GlobalData’s week 10 Covid-19 UK consumer survey, 85% of respondents are either ‘extremely’ or ‘quite’ concerned about the outbreak of Covid-19. This general response means that apprehension is still present.

Tour operators can use air bridges to promote destinations to the UK market. Social media would be an effective way to promote this as UK consumers have increased time spent browsing social media during Covid-19. In GlobalData’s week 10 Covid-19 UK consumer survey, 38% of the UK respondents said they are spending more time browsing social media.

There is a long, winding road ahead for tour operators and destinations that depend on the UK source market, but if these air bridge agreements do go ahead, then their recovery period will undoubtedly be shortened.

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