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The travel sector was plunged into chaos earlier this year when the coronavirus pandemic hit. Thousands of Britons saw their holiday plans cancelled as international travel restrictions were put in place. Holiday companies were then hit by an onslaught of customers asking for refunds that they were entitled to following the cancellation of their plans.
The outlook for tourism and travel remains highly uncertain as the coronavirus pandemic continues to hit the sector and countries put restrictions in place.
The latest statistics from the ONS have revealed the startling impact the pandemic has had on the travel industry.
Airlines, travel companies, coach companies and online sites among others have all felt the financial strain of the coronavirus pandemic.
The ONS revealed that between April and June this year, UK residents only made 939,000 visits abroad.
This is down by 96 percent compared with the same period last year.
The data from the ONS was “modelled to extrapolate from past trends”.
Holidays were the most common reason for Britons to go abroad between April and June 2020.
However, there were just 617,000 holidays; this is a decrease of 96 percent when compared with last year.
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Visits to friends or relatives decreased by 96 percent to 219,000, while business visits decreased by 97 percent to 87,000, according to the ONS.
There was a 97 percent decrease in visits to North America (43,000 visits), and visits to European countries decreased by 96 percent (745,000 visits).
Other figures from the ONS show that there have also been fewer visits to the UK with overseas travellers making just 398,000 trips during the same period.
This was also down by a staggering 96 percent compared to last year.
An ABTA spokesperson commented: “Today’s ONS figures for overseas travel lay bare the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on the industry.
“While the figures relate to the first lockdown period, since then the industry has had to deal with constantly changing travel advice and quarantine measures, as well as local lockdowns, meaning there has been very limited scope for recovery.
“As a result tens of thousands of jobs have already been lost and many businesses have closed their doors for good.
“In addition to tailored financial support for travel companies, the Government needs to implement an effective testing regime and introduce a fully regionalised travel corridor approach by the time lockdown is lifted to help people feel more confident to travel.
“It also needs to introduce flexibility into the furlough scheme to support businesses who need to have staff processing refunds, but won’t be generating income.”
It comes as Transport Secretary Grant Shapps insisted today that the government is making “very good progress” in developing a testing regime to reduce the 14-day quarantine period for travellers returning from abroad.
Mr Shapps also said the mass testing programme in Liverpool gives “hope for optimism” that quarantine-free travel in the future could be possible.
People arriving in the UK from countries without a travel corridor are required to self-isolate for 14 days.
The aviation industry has repeatedly called for these restrictions to be eased for people who test negative for coronavirus.
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