Multiple barriers continue to stand in the way of freedom of movement – UK travel operators have begun to announce an uptick in bookings but refund requests remain prominent.

There is a lack of clarity on health and safety, quarantine, insurance cover and, most importantly, international travel advice – the UK Foreign Office still warns against all non-essential travel, which only heightens consumer angst.

UK travel operators are also urging travellers to re-book, luring them with cheap travel deals. Many are banking on air bridges developing but the UK still holds the fourth-largest number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the world – not an attractive partner in the current circumstances. Therefore, the number of refund requests is likely to grow considerably before travel reaches any form of ‘new normal’.

Multiple barriers need to be considered before international travel is possible

GlobalData’s latest survey found that 46% of UK travellers are still extremely concerned about the outbreak of Covid-19 – there is much to be uncertain about.

The ‘indefinite ban’ by the Foreign Office on all but essential overseas travel still remains in place. Travel insurance companies will not cover Covid-19-related circumstances. While the ban exists, insurance policies will be invalid.

The prospect of a 14-day quarantine has caused an uproar among travel businesses throughout the UK but this also heightens consumer uncertainty. The impact on annual leave is still not clear, for example.

The on-going battle with cash refund requests also continues. Clarity on refund credit notes remains elusive – if a tourist does not book with a package travel provider and the company they hold the ticket with becomes insolvent, this ‘may or may not’ be covered.

A lack of clarity across a wide array of issues just continues to add to consumer anxieties, deterring many from booking holidays.

Tour operators urge bookings in hope for air bridges but there is no clear timeline set

TUI and Jet 2 Holidays were some of the first operators to announce that holidays will resume from 1 July – this followed an extension of cancellations.

UK tour operators are now looking to air bridges as a form of hope to recover some sort of demand throughout 2020. The reality is the UK still holds the fourth-highest number of cases in the world. The approach the UK Government has taken to battle Covid-19 has also been heavily criticised.

One thing that is certain is the road ahead will not be plain sailing – operators are likely to deal with ongoing refund requests and subdued demand for the foreseeable future.

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