Coronavirus: One-third of Britons will avoid travelling overseas if outbreak continues, poll finds

Consultancy firm estimates £17bn of holiday spending may be put on hold

Rory Sullivan
Monday 24 February 2020 07:01 GMT
A passenger wearing a face mask arrives at Heathrow Airport
A passenger wearing a face mask arrives at Heathrow Airport

Almost one-third of Britons will consider stopping overseas travel if the coronavirus outbreak persists, new research suggests.

Some 31 per of 2,000 people polled in the UK said they would consider suspending any trips abroad if the epidemic was not brought under control.

The consultancy firm Retail Economics, which conducted the survey, calculated that £17bn of holiday spending may be put on hold as a result.

Popular resorts and overseas city-break destinations would probably be the hardest hit if UK travellers choose to stay away, the company added.

Some 22 per cent of respondents said they would avoid public transport if the outbreak continued, while 16 per cent said they would not go to major shopping areas.

Nearly one-quarter of those asked believe coronavirus posed a high threat to health in the UK, while 35 per cent saw it as a moderate risk and 42 per cent as a low threat.

Retail Economics chief executive Richard Lim said: “If the virus persists, consumers are likely to cut back in three main areas: holidays and travel, eating out and using public transport.

“Consumers will shift this spending elsewhere as they substitute what they would have spent abroad to other areas of the economy.”

Researchers think a decline in foreign travel will lead to a rise in the number of people who choose to holiday in the UK.

Mr Lim said that the outbreak came amid an “already fragile backdrop” for consumer confidence, adding: “People are worried about Brexit, a weaker outlook for the economy, lack of savings and how to shop sustainably.”

The Foreign Office advises against all but essential travel to mainland China.

Airlines such as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have suspended flights to the country, while the travel company Trailfinders said it has “seen an impact on bookings to the east”.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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