The tourism industry in the UK has received a welcome boost thanks to the lifting of the remaining travel restrictions, making travel to and from Britain much easier.

A welcome move from the UK government

According to GlobalData’s 2021 Q1 and Q4 consumer survey’s, which focuses on consumer attitudes towards COVID-19, the UK public are becoming less apprehensive about the pandemic. In Q4, 9% of respondents stated they are ‘not concerned’, and a further 19% said they were only ‘slightly concerned.’ Whereas in Q1, only 5% and 10% expressed the same sentiment, respectively. These results show that in less than a year, consumer sentiment is shifting more positively with regards to the pandemic. This is in part attributed to the large-scale vaccine roll-out, with 91.7% of the population having received the first dose and 85.6% having received the second dose. In addition, a further 67% have received a booster shot according to GlobalData’s COVID-19 database.

Easing of restrictions signals a shift back to pre-pandemic travel

The UK’s remaining hotel quarantine capacity will be shut down the end of March, further signifying a this back to pre-pandemic travel. Transport secretary Grant Shapps stated that the reasons for removing travel restrictions now were to provide greater freedom with Easter approaching, and to make good on the promise that the government wouldn’t keep travel measures in place for any longer than necessary. This has the potential to be positive for the UK tourism industry, with other countries in Europe still maintaining their own unique set of travel restrictions. As a result, this move could enable the UK to gain an early competitive advantage over its European counterparts.

However, the removal of these travel restrictions is not progressing without contingencies, with health secretary Sajid Javid providing reassurance that the government is continuing to monitor and track potential new variants. In the event of a rapid surge of cases, a set of reserve measures have also been put in place and can be deployed if needed. All of this shows a willingness to improve the UK’s tourism industry’s chances of recovery, while also learning from past criticism surrounding measures being put in place too slowly to be fully effective. Consumer sentiment in the UK seems to be cautiously optimistic, so these contingency plans are likely to reassure more skeptical travelers.

Balance is key for the UK tourism industry’s recovery

Although the lifting of restrictions is good news for the UK travel industry, governmental authorities need to exercise some caution and ensure contingency plans are in place. The change in testing rules removes the need for unvaccinated passengers to take a pre-departure test and a Day 2 post-arrival test. However, with the threat of future COVID-19 variants, back-up plans must be put in place. The government has also said its default approach in future would be to minimize the impact on travel as far as possible due to the high personal, economic, and international costs restrictions can have, with measures only being implemented in extreme circumstances. Moving forwards, it will be a balancing act for authorities as the world learns to live with the disease. Communication and collaboration with travel and tourism companies across the UK is essential. Nevertheless, the UK’s lifting of travel restrictions could potentially make 2022 a pivotal year for the tourism industry.