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Visit Scotland | Alba


  • During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, international travel was severely restricted. The International Passenger Survey (IPS), which collects data from passengers as they enter or leave the UK, was suspended on 16 March 2020. Data collection only fully restarted in July 2022
  • During this time, we worked with our partners to monitor travel restrictions. We also explored concerns around travel and the propensity to travel with up to twenty international markets

  • Four waves of research took place during 2020 to 2022
  • The research was jointly commissioned by VisitBritain, VisitScotland, Visit Wales and London & Partners

1. Executive summary

Wave four of the research took place between 10 and 23 February 2022 and covered twenty international markets.

  • Travel intentions

    Desire to travel internationally had increased further at the time of the research (February 2022). It reached the highest level recorded since 2020.

    More than 5 in 10 respondents intended to travel internationally in the coming 12 months. Vaccination and spending power continued to fuel confidence in travel.

    France, Italy and Ireland showed the most positive sentiment towards travelling abroad. Norway had a more reserved attitude. For long haul markets, the US, India, Brazil and Gulf countries expressed a strong willingness to travel.

  • Motivations

    Holiday motivations remained the main purpose for future travel. But visiting friends and family was still a significant purpose for a third of respondents on average.

  • Planning and booking

    Booking last-minute due to travel uncertainties was becoming less dominant at the time of the research. This is because consumers gained confidence and were offered more flexible cancellation guarantees.

    Trust in using public transport had jumped and crowd-averse attitudes declined.

  • COVID safety

    For long haul markets, British destinations had a "COVID safe" image. The idea of Scotland being "COVID safe" was particularly high in Australia, Canada, USA, China, Brazil and India.

    Some of the short haul markets (Ireland, Italy, and Spain) rated Scotland safer than their neighbor destinations.

  • Destination experience

    A "return to normal" in destination experience was tangible. This can be seen through the increased interest expressed for all types of activities and events. These include those considered at risk COVID-wise in the recent past. Dining out had returned to being a dominant activity envisaged, growing strongly in interest.

    Outdoor activities remained popular for Germans, French, Italians and Dutch. A strong appetite for culture was seen in France, Italy and Spain.

2. Methodology

The research used an online survey and spoke to males and females aged eighteen and older who had travelled abroad in the past five years. 11,000 interviews were conducted per wave of research. This covered up to twenty different international markets.

During the evolving pandemic, consumer sentiment was subject to fluctuations. This impacted travel, which was changing every week. This research was a study about people’s perceptions, travel intentions and reassurance needed for future. Travel intent should therefore be interpreted as travel desire and not actual booking behaviour.

Four waves of this research were conducted in the following periods:

  • Wave one: fieldwork was conducted between 2 and 16 December 2020 in fourteen markets
  • Wave two: fieldwork was conducted between 24 March and 5 April 2021 in twenty markets. Trended data was calculated using the fourteen markets included in wave one
  • Wave three: fieldwork was conducted between 23 August and 6 September 2021 in thirteen markets. Trended data was calculated using the thirteen markets consistently included in previous waves
  • Wave four: fieldwork was conducted between 10 and 23 February 2022 in 20 markets

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