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Britons made 95% fewer trips by plane from April to June compared to 2019

UK citizens made just one million journeys abroad by air in the second quarter of 2021 – 95 per cent fewer than in the same period in 2019.

The figures, released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) today, record the travel period of April to June 2021.

The data also shows that Britons collectively spent just £1.1bn on visits abroad – 93 per cent less than during the same quarter in 2019.

The most popular place for flights abroad during the period was Europe, with 733,000 air journeys made to countries within the continent, but even this number represented a drop of 96 per cent from 2019’s numbers.

Only 173,000 of the journeys recorded were holidays – the most popular reason for travel was visiting friends or relatives, accounting for 60 per cent of journeys made.

The figures show the stark impact of the ongoing Covid-related travel restrictions on the British travel industry.

In terms of inbound travel, the ONS said that foreign nationals made 277,000 visits into the UK during the three-month period, 97 per cent fewer than in April to June of 2019.

This also meant that inbound tourists spent 94 per cent less in the UK than in Q2 of 2019.

In recent weeks, local tourism authorities have expressed fears about the slow recovery of inbound tourism to the UK, an industry that represented billions of pounds in spend that is not expected to recover until late 2023.

The CEO of Experience Oxfordshire, Hayley Beer-Gamage, said the government’s Tourism Recovery Plan was “a fantastic and ambitious plan, but it needs significant financial support and funding for it to be implemented and provide that long term recovery support.

“With inbound tourism not looking likely to fully recover to pre-pandemic levels until late 2023 and with added competition not only across the UK but our European neighbours as well as long haul markets, we need to ensure all of the hard work which had previously been implemented to nurture those markets such as China and the US doesn’t go to waste.”

Many industry figures have criticised the UK government’s cautious loosening of travel rules and restrictions.

Despite the last seven remaining countries being removed from the red list today, many feel it is too little, too late for the struggling travel industry.

In response to the announcement that the red list would be emptied, Dale Keller of the Board of Airline Representatives said: “The UK’s complex and costly travel restrictions decimated passenger volumes over the summer while much of Europe capitalised on vaccination roll-out by rebuilding their connectivity.

“Today’s announcement is a step towards properly rebalancing international travel risk with the government’s domestic Covid response, and will enable the UK to begin to claw back lost ground as airlines attempt to rebuild their operations.”

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