Holidays: Simon Calder gives 2021 travel advice
The future of travel may seem uncertain at the moment, as travel corridors rage on, and new strains of coronavirus have caused a flurry of border closures. However, there is hope among the industry that holidays will return once the global vaccination push has made progress.
But after a year of immense changes to travel, it is increasingly likely the way in which we jet off may well be altered in the future.
For Chris Wright, managing director of travel agency Sunvil, these changes will likely manifest themselves in the destinations Britons opt to visit.
“Short-haul destinations accessed by direct flights will, initially, be more popular than those requiring international transits or long-haul destinations,” he told Express.co.uk.
Though countries, such as Spain and Italy, have traditionally been firm holiday favourites, Mr Wright believes there could be some new vacation champions rising to the forefront.
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“We also believe that travellers will be looking at destination responses to the pandemic and those with lower case numbers favoured,” he said.
This means countries which have had lower figures could end up being perceived as a “safer” option for a holiday in the immediate aftermath of the vaccine rollout.
“For example, in 2020, Greece stood out as a good example – largely because of its naturally socially distanced, mostly rural, way of living outside the main cities of Athens and Thessaloniki,” Mr Wright said.
The fact several Greek islands have also managed to hold their own on the UK’s travel corridor for huge lengths of time will likely add further encouragement for holidaymakers looking to book in the coming months.
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The idea of safety is something which Gary Lewis, CEO of The Travel Network Group, believes holidaymakers will weigh up before booking their next adventure.
“The COVID-19 situation is changing so rapidly that it is difficult to single out specific destinations, but one of the main factors driving bookings will be the local coronavirus restrictions,” he said.
“Key factors will be: Is there a PCR test needed on arrival? Will the vaccine be mandatory?
“Is there a quarantine period in place? What attractions are safely open?”
Of course, along with some destinations gaining popularity, the experts have a more sombre outlook for other travel hotspots.
“If certain destinations don’t have a successful vaccination programme in place, or have too many restrictions in for UK tourists, this may be a potential reason for a decline in visitor,” continued Mr Lewis.
“For example, if countries insist on PCR tests 48 hours before travelling, a family of four might not be able to afford to pay for the holiday plus another £500 for the tests.”
These rules could also impact travellers hoping to visit countries where direct flights are not as frequent.
“Destinations accessed using an airport in another country are likely to see a decline, for example, southern Sweden which is accessed through Copenhagen Kastrup Airport in Denmark,” Mr Wright pointed out.
“This is because travellers are affected by protocols and restrictions for two destinations.”
He added: “With many governments recommending their residents to avoid/minimise their use of public transportation, we believe that holidays using trains and buses will see a decline in 2021, for example, holidays such as multi-city breaks in Italy.”
Concerns over social distancing and the spread of disease could also impact usually bustling hotels and resorts.
“Larger resort destinations where it is not easily possible to socially-distance from others may see a decline in visitors,” continued Mr Wright.
Instead, the experts predict villa stays could become the most sought-after in the initial months after mass travel resumes.
“Customers will choose the product that gives them more confidence,” said Mr Lewis.
“Hotel chains will have new health and safety protocols in place, implemented because of the pandemic.
“However, some customers will want smaller private accommodation such as villas that they can share with their families only and avoid contact with other tourists.”
Though changes to traditional holidays seem inevitable at this point, the experts are optimistic about the future.
Mr Wright cites Sunvil already receiving “demand for short-haul holidays from late May”.
Meanwhile, Mr Lewis concluded: “We know that many people are longing for their next holiday.”
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