Vaccinated older generation could give Edinburgh a tourist boost
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The findings are revealed in a Covid-19 UK consumer tracking report commissioned by national tourism organisations VisitEngland, VisitScotland and Visit Wales.
The tracker, based on weekly data from March 10 to April 10, sought to capture the "mood and sentiment" around taking overnight short breaks and holidays over the Spring (April-June) and Summer (July-September) periods.
The results reveal that older age groups, which may have been more at risk from Covid but are now vaccinated, could be the ones to give the tourism industry the boost it needs.
The report found that optimism over travel has been steadily increasing and is now "at its highest point since the pandemic began", with 40 per cent of the UK population (44% of Scots) believing the "worst has passed".
It found evidence that the roll out of the vaccine has driven this uplift in optimism - with UK adults aged over 45 who have had the vaccine significantly more likely to believe the worst has passed than those who haven’t.
Over 45s who have had the vaccine were found to be more confident that a trip would go ahead in the next six months than over 45s that have not received the vaccine. As a consequence, they are also more likely to be intending to take a trip in spring and summer this year.
Retirees were the life stage most likely to be intending to take an overnight domestic trip in spring, indexing above the population for the first time for any upcoming season since the research began in May 2020.
For the first time, retirees are also the life stage least likely to state "concerns around catching COVID-19" as a reason for low travel confidence.
Moreover, a "significant minority" of those who have received the first dose of the vaccine cited they won’t feel confident travelling until they have been vaccinated, suggesting the second dose will further reinforce confidence.
The over 55 age group represent around 40 per cent of domestic (GB resident) visitors to Scotland and are among the higher spending demographic on tourism products.
Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said: "These survey results offer the most encouraging signs yet that people are looking to Scotland for a holiday this year.
"Scotland has always been a popular destination with UK residents, and we’re pleased to see, with the roll-out of the vaccine, that there is increasing confidence to plan a trip.
"In particular, it’s heartening that the over-55s, who are a hugely important market for Scottish tourism and have been in the higher risk category for Covid-19, are now feeling more confident to return to travel.
"They are among our higher spending visitors and so could offer that much needed boost for the industry, as well as help to rebuild their own mental health and well-being. Everyone deserves a holiday, and Scotland, and all it offers, will be the perfect antidote after lockdown."
The report found that one in seven UK (14%) and Scotland adults (13%) anticipate taking an overnight UK trip in Spring this year. More than twice that plan on taking a Summer trip (35% of UK adults and 30% of Scotland adults). These figures have increased significantly since the beginning of the year showing increasing confidence; there are now fewer people stating that they "don’t intend to take a trip".
Overall, for Spring, 55 per cent of people who intend to take a holiday or short break in Scotland are from outside of Scotland with the balance being made up by Scotland residents (45%). For Summer, 64 per cent of "Scotland intenders" are from outside Scotland with 36 per cent being resident in Scotland.
Scots remain very loyal to staying in Scotland for their next break. Of those planning to take a trip, 62 per cent of Scotland residents plan to take their overnight break in Scotland in Spring with 60 per cent planning a summer break north of the Border.
Many Scotland residents are only considering Scotland as their destination for the Spring/Summer. The next most loyal audiences for choosing Scotland are those in the North of England - in particular the North West.
As of early April, around half of UK and Scotland adults have received at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, with a further one in four intending to have it as soon as they can.
The proportion who have had the first or second dose of the vaccine rises to 92 per cent of retirees and 62 per cent of older independents. Only one per cent of retirees do not intend to have a vaccine, rising to 10 per cent of "pre-nesters" - those aged 16-34 without children in the household.