Here comes the sun?

What we are planning this summer

“We’re all going on a summer holiday,” sang Cliff Richard in an early hit, the cheery title song to a feel-good movie of the same name. Which was full of fun and laughter, where the sun shone brightly, the sea was blue. And there was no more working and no more worries for a week or two.

We were all going on that summer holiday “To make our dreams come true,” Cliff warbled warmly. And surely everyone of a certain age remembers how the song and the film ended? Last line of lyrics and then, “Mmm, mmm, Mmm, mmm,” repeated again and again. A big fun and big smiles finale followed by the repeated “Mmm-ing” as the final credits rolled. It was all so simple back then, and as cinemagoers made their way home, the words and music still tumbling through their minds, they chatted happily about their own summer holiday plans.

Just like we are this year. Or are we? Can we? Is there any point yet in making plans? Is it worth raising our hopes for a sun and fun-filled holiday by the sea, or in the countryside? Just to have them dashed at the last minute, especially if there are children involved? Despite the Prime Minister’s offer of a roadmap to help us find our way, normality or anything resembling normality, still seems a long way off. And though airlines and ferries are scheduling again, and many holiday companies are offering refunds or rebooking deals in the event of a cancellation due to Covid-19, many of us remain wary of booking.

Even with the Government easing restrictions to permit foreign travel, we don’t and can’t yet know what restrictions will be in force in the overseas holiday destination of our choice come summer. There are currently numerous variations of the Coronavirus rules amongst European holiday destinations, and the vaccine rollout is considerably slower over there than in the UK. In France, at present, there is a 6pm curfew throughout the country and a weekend lockdown in some areas. That lockdown may well end, but there won’t be much fun and laughter and making our dreams come true if we’ve all got to be indoors by six. So are we all going on that summer holiday? Who knows? “Mmm, mmm, Mmm, mmm, Mmm…” Fade to blackout.

What our surveys show

As the temperature rises, our confidence in some sort of “normality” returning appears to be rising too – but slowly. We asked in January if things would be back to normal in the holiday and hospitality sector come summer. Only 18% thought it either “fairly” or “very likely”. This time around that figure rose to 31% overall. The “fairly” or “highly unlikely” thinkers remain in the majority though, with a combined 54% of that opinion. The “don’t know” reply was 15% this time. More of us are now considering a holiday too, although it may be a “staycation”, with the number saying a UK holiday rising from 9% in January to 21% in March.

Just 11% are currently saying they are planning a summer holiday abroad. But there remains a significant majority of 64% without holiday plans. When those choosing “No holiday” were asked the reason why, the four standout replies were corona related concerns at 28%, work or business commitments, and financial difficulties, both at 25%. 13% who said their main concern was the fear of losing money if the holiday had to be cancelled.

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