Latest information on COVID-19

Research Library
Research Library

Research Library

 

Research is being undertaken by a number of national bodies to ascertain the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the sector, and to provide insights in to the post-COVID 19 visitor economy landscape. This information can inform recovery planning for businesses.

 

Summaries and links to the full reports are below.

 

Tracking Consumer Sentiment on the Impact of COVID-19 (BVA BRDC)

 

These weekly reports monitor the mood of UK consumers, and how they are changing weekly for the UK travel, leisure and hospitality sectors.  Each weekly report is listed below with headline information and a link to read the full report.

 

Plus and minus buttons

Week 16 report (15 July 2020)

 
  • Overall there was little change in national mood however the proportion fearing the worst is yet to come is at its highest since the peak of the virus in mid-April.
  • There has been an increase in the numbers saying they will participate tourism, leisure and hospitality sector by the end of August so lead times are coming down with more also saying they want to do the activity but are non-committal as to when.
  • Intent to visit a restaurant by the end of August has fallen for a second week.  
  • The hotel industry will be encouraged by the recovery in the intention to book, to a new high by the end of August, even if the shortfall to normal occupancy remains large.
  • Short term intentions to take a UK summer holiday are holding up well, sustaining the jump from a couple of weeks ago.
  • Intentions to go on a day out to a visitor attraction in the next 2 months are at a new high, yet so too is the proportion non-committal on when they’ll next participate.
  • Only 1 in 5 expect to take a holiday abroad this year, with twice as many assuming this now won’t be until 2021.

Read in full >

 
Plus and minus buttons

Week 17 report (27 July 2020)

 
  • The vast majority of UK adults believe that we will suffer a second wave of the virus in the UK.
  • It is really only outdoor experiences, parks and scenic areas that are recording any immediate / significant recovery in number of visitors.
  • As school holidays get underway, intention to take a domestic trip by the end of August reaches a new peak this week. However, there is a further decline in intention to take trips later in the year – perhaps driven by the fact that more consumers have now taken their holiday.
  • Among those not yet planning to book hotel accommodation in the next 6 months, the plurality (42%) say that the reasons are not COVID-related – it’s just a reflection of the need to find the right occasion.
  • Lead-times for anticipated future bus journey have shortened to a new low.
  • A declining proportion of businesses now think things will be ‘normal by Christmas’.

 

Read the full week 17 report

 
Plus and minus buttons

Week 18 report (29 July 2020)

 
  • There is a significant week-on-week increase in the proportion of Travel Activists who have ventured into a pub or restaurant.
  • In a very positive week for visitor attractions, we report a surge in Travel Activists who have now visited an attraction since the lifting of restrictions, coinciding with the start of school holidays.
  • Future visit intentions also rise to their highest level yet for the summer holiday period, while the proportion who intend visiting before the end of 2020 also climbs to a new peak.
  • Forward intentions for August and September climb to a new peak, indicating that while not everyone is happy with the mask ruling – overall, it may be helping rather than hindering prospects for the retail sector.
  • There is virtually no week-on-week improvement in the proportion of travellers re-engaging with air travel.

 

Read the full week 18 report

 
Plus and minus buttons

Week 19 report (11 July 2020)

 
  • The proportion of adults who believe that the worst has passed drops by 7 points to the lowest level recorded since April ( perhaps linked to the impact of a number of regional spikes in infection rates, as well as renewed concerns over policy aspects such as the re-opening of schools).
  • Record week-on-week increases in reengagement with bus and rail services.
  • Despite the recovery in the UK hotel market being far from consistent with significant variation from location-to-location, there has been a modest increase in the proportion who intend booking before the end of September this week.
  • The restaurant market continues to show consistent and positive signs of recovery.
  • Aviation remains a long way behind on the recovery curve, but some encouragement may be taken from the forward-looking view, which shows a 4th consecutive week of shortening lead-times.

Read in full >

 

Visit Britain COVID-19 Consumer Sentiment Tracker

 

Visit Britain has partnered with BVA BRDC to produce consumer sentiment reports covering the next 13 weeks (1 per week). 

Plus and minus buttons

Weekly Reports

 

Week 2 comparisons with week 1

  • General mood has increased and on average is 6.7/10.
  • The number of people thinking that the worst is yet to come is declining.
  • Understanding that the return to normal will not be fast, generally not until Q4 or Q1 2021/22 (30% think that normality will return by September 2020, which rises to over half by December 2020).
  • The appetite for risk correlates to age, with those in the younger age categories more likely to take risk.
  • The confidence for the domestic short break market is 25% in July/August 2020 but still just over half by November/December 2020.
  • The key reasons for lack of confidence are linked to government restrictions on travel and that if people are allowed to travel, there is uncertainty around whether bars, restaurants, attractions etc will be open. 
  • When comparing the number of UK trips this year to what they would normally take, the majority of people think they will be taking fewer trips.  There is a high proportion of ‘don’t know’ responses highlighting the confusion and uncertainty around the travel industry and many people are awaiting further government guidance. 
  • Responses around taking overseas visits are much more pessimistic that domestic travel.
  • Booking patterns of UK breaks showed 38% of respondents were planning/intend to take a UK trip by September 2020.  Younger age groups are much more likely to have entered the planning and future booking phase.
  • The more affluent are more likely to take a domestic trip.
  • Respondents who will take a domestic trip showed shorter trips in June and September, and longer breaks in July and August.
  • Coastal, countryside and city/towns were the most likely types of destinations people wanted to visit.
  • Before September the South West, North West and Scotland were the most desirable locations, with London visits from October. 
  • Predominant use of private car to reach destinations.
  • Hotels, private homes and camping and caravanning were the most likely types of accommodation.
  • Outdoor activities more desirable than indoor activities.
  • Respondents were looking for reassurance around upcoming accommodation stays around enhanced cleanliness, that booking incentives were offered and that social distancing measures are in place.  The main attribute was that free cancellation is offered when booking.
  • Respondents were more comfortable to welcome visitors from outside their area from the UK than they were to overseas markets. 

Read in full >

Week 3

  • The national mood decreased slightly from the week before however fewer people (28%) are anticipating that the worst is still to come than previously.
  • Respondents are feeling more comfortable than previously about undertaking activities
  • Slightly fewer people are expecting a return to normal by September than the previous week.
  • Consistent with previous weeks, fewer opportunities to go out to eat & drink and Government guidance on travel restrictions were the main reasons for not feeling confident about booking a trip between June and August.
  • The anticipated confidence of taking normal UK breaks in the short and medium  however confidence in the longer term (from 2021) has declined.
  • The proportion of respondents going on a UK short break between June and September has marginally increased (to 42%).
  • The South West is still the most popular destination, with costal and seaside towns the most favourable type of destination however there has been a shift in preference from hotel to camping and caravanning.

Read in full >

Week 4

  • Confidence in the ability to take a domestic short break or holiday continues to gradually improve over time, but it’s still just 23% in August, rising to 40% by September but remaining at under 50% by the end of the year.
  • 31% now believe the worst has passed regarding COVID-19 which is a significantly higher proportion than last week (27%).  Significantly fewer also consider the ‘worst is yet to come’.
  • There continues to be little expectation things will be returning to normal anytime soon, with just 23% expecting ‘normality’ by September (versus 29% last week) and 49% by December (compared to 52% in week 3).
  • Our ‘Appetite for Risk’ score is unchanged at 2.33.  Using public transport continues to be the activity (among those asked) people are least comfortable in undertaking.
  • Main reasons driving this relative lack of confidence are virtually identical this week, again led by restrictions on travel by government (52%), fewer opportunities to eat or drink out (50%) and concerns about catching COVID-19 (46%).
  • When asked to compare to last year, 41% of U.K. adults expect to be taking fewer domestic short-breaks, while for holidays the corresponding figure is 40%.  These proportions remain stable week-on-week.
  • The proportion expecting to go on a domestic short-break or holiday by this September is also stable, with the trend over the past three weeks being 22%, 23% and 22% respectively.
  • In terms of region/nation to be visited between now and September, the South West still leads (19%) followed by Scotland (12%), but as per last week there’s little to separate the places ranked 2-5.  The South West and Scotland also lead for visits planned from October onwards.
  • For the summer period, countryside/village and traditional coastal/seaside town destinations continue to lead with 32% and 30% shares respectively.  Cities move into joint second place for trips scheduled from October.
  • For the June-September period, we again see a broadly even split between the leading four accommodation types, although from October we see hotels/motels/inns take a clear lead, with caravan/camping moving down the rankings.
  • As restrictions lift, outdoor areas and activities (e.g. beaches, trails, theme parks) look set to attract higher than usual levels of visitors than normal, while predominantly indoor activities/venues (e.g. restaurants, spas, museums, galleries) are likely to face a lengthier period of subdued demand.

Read in full >

Week 5

Some key updates from this week’s report:

  •  30% now believe the worst has passed regarding COVID-19, which is virtually unchanged from last week.  A third, however, still believe the ‘worst is yet to come’.
  • There continues to be little expectation things will return to normal anytime soon, with significantly fewer expecting ‘normality’ by September (18% versus 23% last week). Extending the period to December also yields a significant decline in expectations of ‘normality’ (41% compared to 49% in week 4).
  • Our ‘Appetite for Risk’ score has inched up to 2.35.Levels of comfort are clearly related to proximity to people, with travelling on public transport remaining the activity people are least comfortable doing in the current circumstances.
  • Confidence in the ability to take a domestic short break or holiday continues to be subdued, at 12% for July, 25% in August, rising to 40% by September. Positively, the majority (54%) are now confident they’d be able to take a domestic overnight trip by the end of the year.
  • Main reasons driving this relative lack of confidence are similar to previous weeks, although ‘fewer opportunities to eat or drink out’ (46%) has narrowly overtaken ‘restrictions on travel by government’ (45%).
  • When asked to compare to last year, 39% of U.K. adults expect to be taking fewer domestic short-breaks and holidays respectively. These proportions remain stable week-on-week.
  • The proportion expecting to go on a domestic short break or holiday by September declined for the second successive week to 20% (versus 22% last week and significantly below the 23% reported in Week 3).
  • In terms of region/nation likely to be visited between now and September, the South West extends its lead (from 19% to 21%) followed by Scotland which is stable at 12%. The South West and Scotland also lead for visits planned from October onwards.
  • For the summer period, countryside/village and traditional coastal/seaside town destinations continue to lead with 33% and 32% shares respectively.  Cities are again promoted into joint second place for trips scheduled from October.
  • For the June-September period, we continue to see a broadly even split between the leading four accommodation types, although from October, hotels/motels/inns are significantly more likely to attract visitors.
  • People are seeking reassurances in order to feel comfortable staying in a hotel: measures to reduce contamination (e.g. hand sanitisers and enhanced cleaning regimes) are important, although the single most cited factor is for them to offer the provision of free cancellations.
  •  As restrictions lift, outdoor areas and activities (e.g. beaches, trails, theme parks) look set to attract higher than usual levels of visitors than normal, while predominantly indoor activities/venues (e.g. restaurants, spas, museums, galleries) are likely to face a lengthier period of subdued demand.

Read in full >

Week 6

  • The national mood edges up by +0.1 to 6.7/10, lifted by slightly more describing their mood within the 9-10 range (19% versus 15% last week).
  • However, fewer people compared to last week believe the ‘worst has passed’ (27% ) regarding Covid-19 while more consider the ‘worst is yet to come’ (35%) which are -3% and +2% respectively versus week 5.
  • There continues to be little expectation things will be returning to normal anytime soon, with slightly fewer expecting ‘normality’ by September (17% versus 18% last week).  Extending the period to December also exhibits a decline in expectations of ‘normality’ (39% compared to 41% in week 5).
  • Our ‘Appetite for Risk’ score continues to inch up, currently standing at 2.38/4.  Levels of comfort are clearly related with proximity to people, with travelling on public transport remaining the activity people are least comfortable doing in the current circumstances.
  • Confidence in the ability to take a domestic short break or holiday is beginning to exhibit some improvement compared to last week, at 14% for July (+2%), 29% in August (+4%) and 43% by September (+3%).
  • The main reasons cited among those lacking confidence have tended to be led by structural limitations such as having ‘fewer opportunities to eat or drink out’ or ‘restrictions on travel imposed by government’ (45%).  These remain key, but have been overtaken this week by ‘concerns about catching COVID-19’.
  • When asked to compare to last year, 39% of U.K. adults expect to be taking fewer domestic short-breaks and holidays respectively.  These proportions remain stable week-on-week.
  • The proportion expecting to go on a domestic short break or holiday by this September increased by a significant margin this week, to 24% (versus 20% in week 5).
  • In terms of region/nation likely to be visited between now and September, the South West continues to dominate with 20% of those intending to go on a domestic trip during this period citing this as their destination. followed by Scotland at 13%.  The South West and Scotland also lead for visits planned to be taken from October onwards.
  • For the summer period, countryside/village and traditional coastal/seaside town destinations continue to lead with 34% and 33% shares respectively.  Cities again receive a greater proportion of trips scheduled from October onwards, but continues to be ranked third.
  • For the June-September period, there remains a broadly even split between the leading four accommodation types, although from October, hotels/motels/inns and commercial rentals (such as holiday apartments or cottages) are exhibit stronger preference.
  • Of the reassurances people are seeking in order to feel comfortable staying in a hotel, measures to encourage social distancing narrowly leads over measures to reduce contamination (e.g. hand sanitisers and enhanced cleaning regimes).  Offering free cancellations also remains important, being the second most cited reason.
  • As restrictions lift, outdoor areas and activities (e.g. beaches, trails, theme parks) look set to attract higher than usual levels of visitors than normal, while predominantly indoor activities/venues (e.g. restaurants, spas, museums, galleries) are likely to face a lengthier period of subdued demand.

Read in full >

Week 7

  • Significant increase in the proportion of UK adults claiming to be confident they would be able to take a domestic short break or holiday during July (risen from 14% last week to 21%)
  • Confidence shows only a slight increase in subsequent months, people are still adopting a cautious ‘wait and see’ approach.
  • 15% of people expect life to return to ‘close to normal’ by September and just 35% by December.
  • Small increase in the proportion of UK adults expecting to actually go on a domestic short break or holiday by September (25% now claiming they will do so).

Read in full >

 

 

Visitor Attraction intelligence

 

This study looks at understanding how to build trust and confidence amongst the public to visit attractions, which will assist in the recovery of the sector. The research will be run periodically (when there could be a material change in sentiment) to assess against re-opening, public information on the measures that attractions will be required to have in place, or any new issues as they emerge. 

 

ALVA (Association of Leading Visitor Attractions) visitor sentiment research

Key findings:

  • Those previously claiming that they would revisit ‘as soon as the opportunity arises’ appear to be true to their word, with 21% of the market (around 8.5m adults) claiming to have already visited since re-opening
  • Among those visiting attractions since re-opening, reaction to safety measures has been fairly good, although nervousness among visitors to attractions which were only allowed to open recently is apparent
  • However, around half the attractions-visiting market remains stubbornly cautious about visiting. Main visit barrier is lack of confidence in attractions’ ability to control distancing, led by concerns over fellow visitor’s compliance. Can we demonstrate and communicate that these are working well in our attractions – especially those indoors, where concerns are highest?
  • There is strong evidence that the ‘We’re Good to Go’ mark will have a much-needed, major positive impact upon visit confidence and almost a quarter of the market already claim to have seen this mark
  • There is clear and increasing demand for a full visit experience to be available on re-opening, with significant proportions not visiting if services and facilities were to be closed. Opening with mitigation measures is better than keeping closed
  • However, as indoor attractions re-open, high anxiety in the market remains around these indoor facilities – especially toilets, catering outlets, interactive visit elements and events. Demonstrating and communicating safety measures pre-visit will be even more critical than for outdoor attractions
  • Two-thirds of the market would feel more comfortable about visiting an attraction if masks / face coverings were compulsory, a significant growth since June and reflecting wider public opinion and growth in use in recent weeks. Is now the time to take the socially responsible line and embrace their use in attractions?
  • Attractions located in tourism hotspots, perhaps more than ever, need to keep local residents onside as they seek to attract summer visitors – 71% of residents in these areas would rather visitors stay away.

Read the Wave 4 report in full.

 

Archived Reports:

 

 

If you have any queries relating to these reports, please contact lucy.wearne@visitcountydurham.org

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