The survey of 1900 people revealed that 47% of visitors are confident to return to rural/outdoor areas immediately and only 2% would wait until there is a vaccine. In a stark contrast, only 7% would immediately visit large cities, with 33% opting to wait until there is a vaccine. 27% would immediately return to coastal destinations and 74% said they would cautiously return to small towns.
Gardens are the most popular immediate day-out destination with 33% of those surveyed happy to visit a garden immediately and an additional 52% felt confident enough to make a cautious return to gardens. Theme parks and festivals/events are the least likely destination for an immediate day-out with 33% and 32% respectively, saying they would not visit before a vaccine is available. Piers, beaches, museums and art galleries can expect a gentle flow of visitors over the summer with almost half of those surveyed saying they would make a cautious return.
Whilst there is a level of confidence about immediate days out, there is an indication that the current sentiment is to wait until next year for short breaks, with almost a quarter of those surveyed saying they would not book a short break until 2021 (24%). 10% would most likely book their first short break to South East in August 2020 and a further 18% in September 2020. The most common concerns for future visits is other visitors not taking the appropriate precautions (56%) as well as staff also not taking the necessary safety measures (43%). With that in mind, most of those surveyed seemed to find confidence in their private "bubble" with the preferred method of transport being a private car (86%) and the preferred type of accommodation staying with family or friends (33%). 22% of respondents would be happy to use self-catering accommodation and 17% would immediately return to campsites.
So what does the longer-term future hold for travel and tourism in South East England? How has this pandemic affected our travel habits and what impact will it have on our future travel plans? When questioned about changes to holiday 'wish lists' for the future, 43% did not foresee any changes. However, 28% said they were more likely to incorporate local produce/resources in their choices and 27% said they would be seeking small capacity solutions. More than a third (37%) of those surveyed said they would now pre-book some elements of their leisure time in advance and two thirds (66%) expressed that the guarantee of a refund would give them increased confidence when booking a short break.
Fran Downton, CEO of Tourism South East commented,
"The survey results are part of a programme of activity that Tourism South East is running to ensure that tourism and leisure businesses understand visitor concerns and current trends. The regional visitor sentiments show signs of a growing confidence in returning to enjoying the South and South East of England. Although, there is clearly still some way to go to fully reassure and encourage short breaks this year. Tourism businesses in South East England are working hard to implement the necessary safety procedures to reassure visitors and safely welcome back their guests."
Read the full report online here.
Tourism South East is a tourism membership-based organisation and the leading provider of tourism services operating across the South and South East of England.