The northern hemisphere winter travel season could be met with further restrictions as the UK is faced with the new Omicron Covid-19 variant. Traveller confidence could be knocked if the UK further restricts outbound and domestic travel.

Although demand was beginning to pick up post-summer, the new variant is likely to present challenges for travellers, both domestic and international if the UK decided to add further travel restrictions. Despite 69.6% of the UK population being fully vaccinated, according to GlobalData’s Vaccination Dashboard, the new Omicron variant could pose challenges as so little is currently known about it. Japan has introduced a ban on non-residents entering the country in response to the new variant while the UK has imposed mandatory face coverings in public areas and a PCR test for all international arrivals. This poses a danger to inbound and outbound UK travels as more countries could follow in Japan’s footsteps which could further hinder the already fragile traveller confidence.

Travel restrictions could disrupt winter travel plans

UK travellers could face challenges this winter. As Covid-19 cases continue to rise, the UK could introduce stricter travel restrictions and domestic measures to help curb the spread. With Christmas around the corner, last minute travel cancellations could quash confidence.

Travellers could be advised to delay travel plans or cancel pre-booked holidays this Christmas due to increasing uncertainty. Although the UK’s vaccine roll-out is progressing well, cases are beginning to rise once again, with 42,313 Covid-19 cases reported in the country on Monday 29 November 2021, according to GlobalData. As the new variant is spread across the globe, it is becoming more likely that more countries could impose travel ban on vacationers this winter. Travel confidence was beginning to rise but is likely to be disrupted with ever-changing destination entry requirements and the new variant posing challenges. With more countries being added to the UK’s red list following the discovery of the Omicron variant, travellers could miss out on family gatherings this Christmas, serving a hard blow to the travel sector. If more countries introduce entry bans, passengers would be deterred from travelling abroad.

Reluctance to travel will continue this winter

Reluctance to travel is likely to persist across the winter season with Covid-19 cases rising, and the potential for destinations to introduce travel restrictions on visitors is likely to occur after a short glimpse of hope. UK travel confidence may stagnate for the remainder of this year.

According to GlobalData’s Q3 2021 Consumer Survey*, 32% of UK respondents stated that they were still ‘extremely concerned’ regarding the Covid-19 pandemic. This is still a significant percentage and shows that some UK citizens could avoid going on holidays to destinations with high Covid-19 cases.

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With 40% of UK respondents indicating they would rather stay at home as much as possible in GlobalData’s Q3 2021 consumer survey*, it is likely that the demand for travel could become low this winter, despite the usually busier festive season around the corner. While the country’s confidence in travel was showing some signs of improvement, the new Covid-19 variant could knock it back with travellers likely to be forced to reschedule any plans they may have had this Christmas if travel restrictions are re-introduced across more destinations. With high uncertainty, travellers will likely express caution in the coming weeks and months with cancellations likely to occur.

* GlobalData Q3 2021 Consumer Survey, 687 UK respondents