London demand falls as quarantine slows bookings
Flight booking data shows London has fallen to the bottom of the top ten most booked European cities.
The trend has been blamed on border and quarantine regulations choking travel by joint research from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and ForwardKeys.
In the first half of June last year London was the most heavily booked city in Europe for any date of arrival, followed by Paris and Rome.
However, travel restrictions imposed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, such as the quarantine rules imposed by the UK government, the capital has slumped to the bottom of the top ten.
While Europe has begun to relax travel restrictions and bookings have begun to pick-up, those for London have languished
Under pressure from the travel sector, the UK government finally looks set to announce ‘travel corridors’ to popular European summer hotspots such as France, Germany, Greece, Turkey and Italy.
This would enable airlines to open flights for bookings to Brits eager to get away during the summer.
Lisbon meanwhile has soared to the top of the list of most booked European cities during the first half of June, compared to sitting close to the bottom in ninth place in 2019.
Portugal has been one of the first countries to establish enhanced hygiene and safety protocols to welcome tourists and has one of the top testing rates to control transmission.
According to ForwardKeys research, new tickets issued for future international travel to the European Union dropped by 84 per cent in the first half of June compared to the same period in 2019, recovering from a 94.5 per cent overall decline in May.
Meanwhile bookings to the UK plunged by a staggering 97 per cent in the first half of June, almost unchanged from the precipitous collapse in May.
New flight bookings for all international future departures from the EU slumped by 80 per cent in the first half of June, compared to the same period in 2019, recovering from a hefty 92 per cent decline in May.
Gloria Guevara, WTTC chief executive, said: “Travel restrictions and quarantines have continued to quash air travel and strangle demand for travel to and from London, causing it to fall to the bottom of the league for top ten most booked European cities, according to latest flight bookings.
“However, analysis by ForwardKeys clearly shows demand for flights to and from Europe has begun to recover, thanks in part to a relaxation of travel restrictions which has fuelled the recovery in the tourism sector.
“We eagerly await the UK government’s announcement it will finally allow travellers to make plans for the summer and visit destinations across the whole of Europe and allow the UK tourism sector to kick-off its much needed recovery.”
Last year, the UK attracted more than 40 million overseas visitors.