How many people are heading to ‘amber list’ holiday destinations this summer?

After a series of confused messages from government over travel this summer, Simon Calder considers how many people will head to countries on the amber list

Wednesday 19 May 2021 07:41 BST
Passengers at Gatwick prepare to board an easyJet flight to Faro, Portugal, on Monday
Passengers at Gatwick prepare to board an easyJet flight to Faro, Portugal, on Monday (PA)

The Independent calculates 5 million UK holidaymakers are currently booked to travel abroad to “amber list” destinations for the summer.

The calculation is based on information published last week by Tui, Europe’s biggest package holiday company, Tui, that it has 2.6 million forward bookings for summer 2021.

In 2019, one in five of Tui’s holidays (20.3 per cent) was sold in the UK. This is derived from the 5.5 million licence Atol passengers in 2019, and the 27 million holidays overall that the Anglo-German company sold.

If the same proportion pertains in 2021, that signifies 520,000 forward bookings from UK holidaymakers.

Also in 2019, of the total of 59 million holidays abroad by British (as calculated by the ONS), 5.5 million were with Tui – meaning that for every Tui holiday, another 9.7 were sold by other companies (or assembled by travellers).

Applying the factor to Tui’s current bookings, The Independent estimates that there are 5.56 million forward bookings for summer 2021 – defined as the standard travel industry season, ending in late October.

A higher-than-normal number of these trips will be to “green list” Portugal, which generally has just over 4 per cent of the total outbound holiday market from the UK.

Assuming that has doubled to 8 per cent, around 450,000 are booked to Portugal.

A few tens of thousands will be accounted for by Iceland and Gibraltar, the only other viable green list destinations.

“Red list” countries – including the UAE, South Africa, India and Brazil – attract relatively low numbers of visitors in summer, perhaps currently accounting for around 100,000 travellers; many are booked to Dubai.

The 5 million figure rests on the assumption that travel patterns are similar to 2019, albeit with much lower numbers than in summer 2021.

It may be that they turn out different. For example, distribution between destinations may change profoundly, with numbers attracted to Portugal rising more steeply than predicted,.

Types of holidays may also change significantly: will more travellers take the car on Eurotunnel because that is seen as reducing Covid risks and also providing a potential means of escape if needed? Or will they choose more packages because people have learnt more about the consumer protection a proper package holiday confers?

By the end of the summer we will know. For now, it is clear that millions have committed financially to holidays in destinations that are currently on amber.

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