Though coronavirus is sweeping the globe, with over 100,000 confirmed cases of the illness worldwide, it seems many Britons still won’t be turned off their annual holiday. New data has revealed that 81 percent of Britons will still go ahead with new holiday bookings, regardless of the ongoing COVID-19 publicity.
A survey of 1,000 Britons, carried out by travel marketing and communications firm, Finn Partner, says that a further 68 percent will happily book their holiday if they could change it at no extra cost and avoid losing money.
This is a trend a number of airlines have already jumped on, with British Airways and Virgin Atlantic announcing they will be wiping cancellation fees for those who don’t want to travel, or who want to rearrange their departure dates.
Though many airlines have cancelled flights due to FCO recommendations or lack of demand, there are journeys still going ahead.
However, with confirmed cases of coronavirus now in 81 countries worldwide, travellers may be fearful of embarking on their planned holiday.
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In many instances, those who choose not to travel for this reason would usually lose out on the cost of their flight.
However, BA and Virgin Atlantic have offered a comprise for passengers who don’t want to travel to areas where an FCO advisory is not in place.
Many hotels are also working on a case-by-case basis to allow travellers to amend their holiday plans.
Finn Partner says this flexibility is the key to maintaining travel in the current landscape.
The survey found that 44 percent of Britons said they would be happy to book a holiday if there is a great deal to be had, despite what the headlines say.
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Furthermore, only 17 percent said they would not move forward with booking a holiday until they know more about the developing situation, and only 13 percent said they won’t book at all.
The data also revealed that the older generation is resolute when it comes to booking holidays. It found that 70 percent of those over 60 are continuing to book holidays, along with 68 percent of 45 – 59-year-olds and 61 percent of 30 – 44-year-olds.
Interestingly, it is the younger generation aged between 16 and 29 who are more hesitant to book.
Debbie Flynn, managing partner, Finn Partners Travel commented:
“Whilst undoubtedly the situation is hitting the industry hard, our research tells us that Brits are unlikely to give up their holidays if the price is right.
Travellers should opt for insurance to keep them safe
“We know from the data that flexible bookings are absolutely critical to retaining consumer confidence. A key area of concern is losing money, whether that’s a ticket for an attraction, a flight or a package.”
At the moment the government is not suggesting travellers make any changes to their usual behaviour, including holidaying abroad.
Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said: “At the moment we are certainly not recommending any change to behaviours in relation to that and if it grows in the UK it doesn’t really make sense to say you are more at risk somewhere else than you are here.”
Travel experts have shared their advice for Britons who are feeling wary of whether to book.
It turns out there is a simple solution to protect your finances, should a sudden surge in the virus cause chaos to holiday plans.
Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis has pushed the need for purchasing travel insurance as soon as you book.
This will protect travellers who find themselves faced with cancelled flights, hotels or holiday excursions as part of an FCO travel advisory.
Lewis explained: “Almost all travel insurance policies, including the cheap no-frills policies… if you are travelling somewhere that the Foreign Office has said it advises against ‘all travel’ or ‘all but essential travel’ then the travel insurance company will pay out if there is a Foreign Office advisory in place.
“As there is for China, parts of South Korea and, from today, there now is for northern Italy.”
However, Lewis went on to warn Britons that they could still be caught out, even if they have travel insurance.
“The bigger question is – your flight is cancelled, your hotel is cancelled, it’s not in a Foreign Office warning area but it’s been cancelled due to coronavirus – are you covered?” he said.
“In that case, the majority of policies don’t cover you, those the travel disruption cover may.”
It’s worth looking very carefully at what your policy covers and what it doesn’t.