90% downturn in visitors booked on flights into UK

Published: 7 October 2020

Post Desk : The number of visitors booked on flights to Britain is still more than 90 per cent down on a year ago, latest figures revealed today.

Advance bookings to UK airports made through travel agents are 94 per cent lower in both October and November, according to data provided by analysts ForwardKeys for tourism promotion body VisitBritain.

This marks only a small improvement since July when bookings were 97 per cent down and suggests half term and Christmas will be a near washout for London’s tourism sector.

VisitBritain estimates that international arrivals — of which London accounts for about half — will be down 73 per cent at 11 million over 2020 as a whole, with spending 79 per cent lower at £6 billion.

The latest figures came as ministers prepared to set up a new taskforce to review options for testing passengers and reducing the 14-day quarantine period.

The move has dismayed the tourism sector which had hoped that testing trials could start this month and which has offered to trial its own systems.

More than 30 countries including Germany, France and Iceland have already introduced some form of airport test.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and Health Secretary Matt Hancock are expected to lead the review, which will study the way other countries use testing to reduce quarantine times.