The latest research by Redfield & Wilton Strategies finds that roughly a third of German (33%), French (30%), and British (29%) adults intend to travel abroad on holiday this year. Meanwhile, Italians are significantly less likely to be planning a holiday abroad (22%), but more likely to be planning a domestic holiday within their country (48% of Italians are planning a domestic holiday, compared to 33% to 39% of respondents from the other three countries polled). Despite these differences, the proportion of respondents who do not intend to go on holiday at all this year is roughly similar across the four countries, ranging from 39% in Italy to 46% in Britain and Germany.
The proportion of respondents who intend to travel abroad this year is higher relative to the proportion that intended to travel abroad last summer. In July 2020, less than a fifth of respondents in Germany (15%), France (12%), Great Britain (12%), and Italy (9%) said they intended to travel abroad for holiday that summer. Likewise, there has also been an increase in plans to travel domestically since that July, when 24% of Germans and 21% of Britons responded that they intended to travel within their countries during the summer of 2020. The increase was less marked in Italy and France, where considerable numbers of Italian (40%) and French (35%) respondents already intended to travel domestically for the summer back in July 2020. Although part of the difference in responses between July 2020 and now lies in the fact that back then we asked only about summer (whereas now we asked about the entire year), there is nonetheless a visible pattern of travel intention having increased, which is likely an outcome of coronavirus vaccines having been discovered.
It appears possible that vaccine passports—which would certify that a traveller has already been vaccinated—will be one policy proposal that may be enacted to better reopen to tourists. Our polling finds a high willingness to carry a vaccine passport for international travel among respondents in Germany (78% willing), France (62% willing), Italy (85% willing), and Britain (89% willing). Although all of these figures constitute majorities, it is nonetheless remarkable that there is a twenty-seven-point gap separating the French and the British when it comes to willingness to carry a vaccine passport for international travel—especially considering that similar proportions of British (29%) and French (30%) respondents intend to travel abroad on holiday this summer.
The above figures reflect that the proportion of French respondents who say they are unwilling to carry a vaccine passport under any circumstances (38%) is twice as high as the proportion in Germany, and four times as high as the proportion in Britain who say they would refuse. Such an unwillingness is a reflection of both vaccine scepticism in France—where it is much higher than in other European countries—as well as the relatively slow speed of the vaccine rollout in continental Europe. In other words, it seems probable that British respondents are more likely to support vaccine passports because they think vaccines are safe and because they are confident they will receive theirs soon.
Indeed, 69% of British respondents say they support restricting international travel so that it is possible only to those who have been vaccinated against coronavirus. Meanwhile, such a measure only has the support of 35% of respondents in Germany, 42% in France, and 40% in Italy. As highlighted above, the discrepancy between figures from Britain compared to the continent are most likely a function of British respondents being aware that they will likely receive their coronavirus vaccine soon.
French respondents are simultaneously the most likely to oppose vaccine passports for international travel and the most likely to say they would feel safe travelling to another country now. Whereas 27% of French respondents say they would feel safe travelling internationally at this moment, this sentiment is only shared by 21% of Germans and 20% of Italians. Indeed, 70% of Germans and 71% of Italians would presently feel unsafe travelling abroad—and so would 63% of French respondents.
Despite headwinds for the European Union’s vaccination drive, our research finds that respondents in Germany, France, and Italy are not substantially less interested in travelling abroad on holiday at some point this year than British respondents, who are likely to be vaccinated much sooner. Nonetheless, the difference in vaccination rates manifests itself in the much higher willingness of Britons to carry vaccine passports for international travel and to restrict such travel only to those who have already been vaccinated. Although roughly half of respondents across the four countries say they do not plan to travel on holiday this year, the remaining half do intend to go on holiday somewhere, thus providing a degree of respite to the hard-hit European tourism industry.