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Demand for foreign holidays recovers to pre-virus levels – survey

Demand for foreign holidays has recovered to pre-pandemic levels, a new survey suggests.

Travel trade association Abta commissioned the poll to mark the one-year anniversary of the UK removing its remaining coronavirus travel rules.

Since March 18 last year, arrivals have no longer needed to take any tests or complete any Covid forms, regardless of their vaccination status.

Some 62% of respondents to the poll of 2,000 UK adults, conducted by research company Savanta in February, said they have been on a foreign holiday in the previous 12 months.

That is up from 16% when a similar survey was carried out in August 2021 when travel into the UK was restricted.

Many tour operators and travel agents have reported record sales since the start of the year.

The latest survey suggests that 65% of people were planning a foreign holiday in the following 12 months, with 37% of respondents having already booked.

Abta believes the results of the poll show overseas travel has returned to pre-pandemic levels, driven by a desire for “freedom”.

More than half (54%) of respondents said they will cut back on other non-essential costs so they can afford to go on holiday.

Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “What a difference a year makes.

“One of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic is now back, and in a big way, with demand for travel reaching pre-pandemic levels.

“Both our research and reports of strong booking levels from our members show that holidays remain a spending priority for the year ahead, despite the current squeeze on finances.

“On the whole, people are preferring to adapt their travel plans rather than scrap them entirely, primarily by going all-inclusive, booking early or holidaying outside of busy periods.

“A clear focus for the sector will be to continue the recovery by building a more sustainable industry, ensuring people and communities gain the economic and social positives it brings while addressing environmental challenges.

“Government support in this area will be critical in helping with hard-to-tackle issues such as decarbonising aviation.”

Michael Budge, head of Atol at the Civil Aviation Authority, said: “Holidays can be a significant investment so people need to make smart decisions when planning their next trip.

“It is really important that people look to ensure their well-earned holiday is financially protected.

“We urge anyone booking a package or all-inclusive holiday including a flight to check their booking is financially protected by the Atol scheme, take out travel insurance as soon as they book and consider using a credit card to pay if they can.”

Atol protects package holiday customers if their travel organiser fails by ensuring they do not lose money or are stranded abroad.