The U.K. is a great “gateway destination” for U.S. clients who are traveling across the pond. This is due to the lack of language barriers, easy air connectivity, and the denseness of landmarks and cities in a small area.
Now that international travel is returning, American tourists should “stick to Britain” according to tourism executives. This is because fully vaccinated U.S. citizens are exempted from quarantine.
The EU recently removed the U.S. from its “safe list” — countries whose residents can travel to its member states without pandemic restrictions such as quarantines and testing. Paul Gauger, VisitBritain’s senior vice president for Americas, says that the U.K. has been removed from its “safe list” and U.S. citizens who have received their vaccines can begin their vacation in England, Scotland Wales, Northern Ireland, or Wales.
“Britain makes an ideal destination for Americans returning to international travel. It offers a variety of experiences and is well connected by rail. This makes it possible to travel to any part of Britain. This ease of connectivity allows clients to embrace slow travel and extend their stay to see more of the U.K. Gauger said that this is a way for them to enjoy slow travel and to have an “emotional, meaningful experience.” “Revenge travel” refers to booking a longer, more luxurious trip to make up for the year they missed.
We are hearing from consumers and travel agents that after a year at home, visitors are looking to treat themselves to that bucket-list kind of trip and experience something new.
“‘Revenge travel’ has been a term used since the end of 2020 as people were anxious to make plans once travel reopened,” said Tiffany LaVon Layne, founder and CEO of LaVon Travel & Lifestyle in New York City. My clients are moving towards slower, more immersive travel. They spend more time at a destination and enjoy more experiences. The U.K. is a great option because you can easily navigate and experience so much within the same travel corridor.”
Another benefit to a U.K.-only itinerary is — rather than risking unforeseen COVID-19-related snags when already abroad — travelers who’ve completed all U.K. entry requirements can travel freely between England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Common Travel Area (an open borders area comprising the U.K., the Republic of Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands).
For my clients, I would say they’re moving more toward slower and more experiential travel, where they give more time to a destination and indulge in immersive experiences. Because you can travel and do so many things in the same area, the U.K. is an excellent option.
“Although one of our specialties is multi-country itineraries, we know it becomes a headache for everyone if one leg of the itinerary has an incompatible restriction,” said Jeffrey Roy, vice president at Eurobound.
Barton Mathews is Eurobound’s European operations manager.
” “There are very few countries in Europe that offer as many experiences as the U.K., and it is particularly true when you consider being able to travel seamlessly across borders. It will allow travelers to explore single countries more deeply. For example, instead of visiting London [and] Rome and Paris [and], they might visit Bath, York, or the Lake District .”
Sticking to Britain certainly simplifies travel planning, but there’s also no shortage of activities, attractions and events taking place in the U.K. for the remainder of 2021 and into 2022, not the least of which is Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee celebration in June 2022 to mark her 70th year on the throne. We are hearing from both consumers and agents that visitors want to experience a bucket-list type of trip after spending a year back home. “Agents should consider how to build those experiences into a trip, and also consider that Britain’s world-class hospitality, cultural attractions and natural beauty are available all year round.”
Because of that, Gauger recommends traveling in fall, winter, or spring when crowds are generally smaller. He also notes that travel outside peak season may offer more availability and lower rates which makes it easier for “revenge travellers” to enhance their experience and/or extend their trip by a few nights.
COVID-19 Protocols: Know Before You Go
Agents should note that, regardless of vaccination status, all travelers visiting the U.K. need to complete the online Passenger Locator Form and must take a pre-departure COVID-19 test and a PCR test on or before the second day after their arrival (test appointments must be booked before travel). In addition to testing, unvaccinated travelers also need to complete a 10-day quarantine.
On Aug. 31, VisitBritain presented a webinar with ExpressTest, the sole provider of testing for arrivals at Heathrow, Gatwick, Edinburgh and Birmingham airports, to explain how clients can complete the “on or before Day 2” testing requirement upon arrival at the airport (as well as at locations throughout the U.K.).
I’m Michelle, and I love to travel. As a former hotel expert for one of the world’s largest hotel chains, I’ve stayed in nearly every type of room imaginable (including many that were not so desirable!). Nowadays, I am fortunate enough to be able to explore the world on my own terms. From international flights to learning different languages, there is nothing too far out of reach!