The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and its partner Forward Keys have released new research showing flight booking levels for UK outbound and inbound travel.
The WTTC said that UK outbound travel “has taken off”, with flights to Turkey up 53 per cent on pre-pandemic figures, Greece up 51 per cent, Bangladesh up 36 per cent, India up 28 per cent and Pakistan up 26 per cent.
Booking for Spain have also reached pre-pandemic levels (up 1 per cent), but those to the US remain 10 per cent lower than before Covid-19 – this week US airlines urged President Biden to drop the country’s remaining Covid travel restrictions.
Overall forward bookings for the UK’s “ten most resilient destinations” are up 118 per cent on last year, and around 10 per cent down on pre-pandemic levels.
But the Council said that the lack of UK inbound travel “continues to cause economic concern”, with booking for international arrivals down 45 per cent on 2019, albeit it up by 1,453 per cent compared to 2021.
Figures for inbound travel from Ireland, Germany and Spain are down 19 per cent, 37 per cent and 38 per cent respectively, while bookings from the US are still down 24 per cent. Only Sweden has so far recorded UK inbound travel figures above pre-pandemic levels (up 15 per cent).
Commenting on the news Julia Simpson, WTTC president and CEO, said:
“The massive imbalance between outbound and inbound UK international flight bookings is a worrying sign for the recovering Travel and Tourism sector and the UK economy.
“As the pandemic recedes and international travel returns, it’s encouraging to see holidaymakers making the most of their new found freedom to travel safely.
“But it’s not a good sign for UK Plc if we can’t convince international travellers that the UK is open for business to travellers and tourists. The UK is losing crucial market share to other destinations.”