The UK risks becoming increasingly isolated with huge job losses if it continues to keep the doors closed to significant international travel, the World Travel & Tourism Council has warned.

The message from the WTTC, which represents the global Travel & Tourism private sector, comes as figures reveal that forward bookings for international flights are lagging far behind the increased capacity generated by extra flights scheduled.

Airlines have dramatically increased flights to popular holiday destinations – many of which are still on the government’s ‘amber list’ – in anticipation of increased demand.

According to travel data and analytics expert Cirium, in the two weeks following the start of the government’s new traffic light system for travel on May 17, scheduled flights from the UK to Greece soared by more than 2,000 per cent, with a 435 per cent rise in flights to Spain, compared to two weeks before.

However, while airlines have been ramping up capacity, analysis of recent ticket sales by WTTC’s knowledge partner ForwardKeys, shows this hasn’t been matched by bookings.

On average during the week of May 14, airline ticket sales from the UK to Greece and Spain fell 37 per cent and 44 per cent respectively week on week.

Data shows at the end of last month, there were more tickets being cancelled than new bookings being made, while UK holidaymakers expressed disappointment over the government’s green list and expensive testing and quarantine requirements for travel to ‘amber’ list countries.

While ticket sales remain sluggish for the immediate future, indications are that there looks to be more positive news on the horizon with significantly more tickets recorded being sold for flights later this month and into July.

But WTTC concerns over the lack of inbound travellers to the UK is causing as much damage to the UK’s Travel & Tourism sector as has the collapse of outbound tourism to holiday hotspots around Europe and beyond.

edinburgh airport check in
The EU wants to end all quarantine restrictions for citizens who have received both doses of the Covid vaccine by July 1.

Virginia Messina, WTTC senior vice-president, said: “WTTC is calling upon the government to allow all those who are fully vaccinated, or can show proof of a negative COVID-19 test, to travel freely.

“We are seeing many countries, particularly those in the EU, allowing travellers that have been vaccinated or can show a negative test result, which will provide a boost to their economies in such a pivotal time.”

“We should use our hard-earned competitive advantage from one of the world’s best vaccine rollout programmes, with nearly 40 per cent of the population now fully vaccinated, to restore mobility and reopen the doors to safe international travel.

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One of the perks of going on UK holidays is that there’s less admin to deal with – but travel insurance can be an important one that often slips through the net.

Recent research from Virgin Money found that one in six Brits never buy travel insurance for domestic trips, with top reasons including relying on the NHS for any medical emergencies and thinking it isn’t necessary.

But it’s a common misconception that you don’t need travel insurance for a staycation – and it could actually save you a lot of money and hassle if something does go wrong during your trip.

Travel insurance isn’t just about medical expenses. It also covers heaps of different issues including lost or stolen items, broken gadgets, cancelled accommodation, train delays and plenty more factors. (If you’re booking domestic flights, it can also cover any delays or cancellations).

View of beach at Brighton Pier
View of beach at Brighton Pier

Then of course, during Covid-19, it’s worth finding a policy that could cover you if you’re unable to travel because you or someone you’re due to travel with gets Covid or symptoms, or a change in local restrictions means you can’t travel.

If you do have contents insurance, it’s still worth checking if that covers your items for when you’re travelling/not at home.

The Virgin study found that Brits are looking to spend an average of £660 on UK trips this summer – without travel insurance, as a nation we’re risking around £8.4BILLION in losses.

Fergus Murphy, Chief Customer Experience Officer at Virgin Money, said: “With the exciting prospect of holidays across the UK becoming a reality very soon, we’re all looking forward to a summer of staycations to make the most of lockdown easing and freedom to travel across the country.

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“However, our research suggests that when on home turf, there is a common misconception that there is no need to purchase insurance. While we all want to enjoy a well-deserved break this summer, don’t forget to consider your insurance needs which could help if you experience travel delays, travel cancellations or end up losing your mobile or gadgets while away.

“Our new Club M packaged account helps to reduce the stress and hassle of travel as it covers you for worldwide family multi-trip travel insurance, mobile phone and gadget insurance and UK breakdown cover. For when those international trips are back on the cards, it also features a travel-savvy debit card with no overseas spending fees, a travel concierge service and medical advice.”

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Do you take out travel insurance when you go on UK holidays? Let us know