Industry Report: Traffic-light system stopped two in three holidaymakers going overseas

Industry Report: Traffic-light system stopped two in three holidaymakers going overseas

Two-thirds of Brits blame the traffic-light system for their decision not to take an overseas holiday in the past year, reveals research released today (Monday 1 November) by WTM London.

Of those who didn’t travel abroad on holiday in the past 12 months, 66% replied ‘yes’ to the question: Has the traffic light system introduced by the UK government for overseas travel put you off travelling overseas over the last year?

When it was introduced, the traffic-light system was hailed as an easy-to-understand way for the Government to grade destinations according to Covid statistics, and determine whether or not people entering the UK would have to quarantine.

However, there were several instances of destinations being relegated to amber or red, causing chaos among holidaymakers who were often given just 48 or 72 hours to get home, or who had to cancel their plans. In addition, the Government introduced an extra level – the ‘green watch’ list, of destinations in danger of turning to amber.

Respondents told the WTM Industry Report traffic-light uncertainty had put them off travelling in the past 12 months.

“Boris Johnson cannot make his mind up from one minute to the next what countries are in what colour. It is just not worth travelling abroad at the moment,” said one respondent.

Another explained: “I don’t want to pay a fortune for a COVID test and be stuck indoors to quarantine.”

“It changes at a moment’s notice and is very confusing – the Government is shambolic and doesn’t know what it is doing.  Boris flip-flops from one ill-thought-out decision to another,” another respondent said.

A fourth explained they were put off by the traffic-light system: “Because they change the system without any notice at all so you could potentially have to isolate with no notice.”

Among the remaining one in three Brits who didn’t holiday overseas in the past 12 months, some said they just did not feel safe about travelling.

“It’s just too high risk so have chosen to wait. It’s not the traffic light system, it’s Covid that has stopped us,” said one.

WTM London takes place over the next three days (Monday 1 – Wednesday 3 November)  at ExCeL – London.

WTM London Exhibition Director Simon Press said: “The traffic-light system was intended as a simplified version of 2020’s travel corridor system – but in reality, turned out to be just as complicated, perhaps more so.

“Airlines, operators and destinations were constantly dismayed at the lack of countries on the green list and had to act quickly when countries moved up or down the traffic light grades, often at short notice.

“In addition, the traffic-light list is different to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) guidance on travel to a particular destination, so travellers needed to check both. To add a further complication, green-list countries aren’t, or weren’t, necessarily open to Brits, so the whole system proved incredibly confusing.

“With the removal of the amber tier, leaving just red and green. It remains to be seen whether this move will instil confidence among Brits who want to travel abroad on holiday.”

The WTM Industry Report polled 1,000 UK consumers.




World Travel Market (WTM) Portfolio comprises leading travel events, online portals and virtual platforms across four continents, generating more than $7.5 billion of industry deals. The events are:

WTM London, the leading global event for the travel industry, is the must-attend three-day exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry. Around 50,000 senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international media visit ExCeL London every November, generating over £3.71 billion in travel industry contracts. In 2020, WTM Virtual facilitated 20,000+ meetings and held 42 live content sessions over the 3-days show.

Next live event: Monday 1 to 3 November 2021 at ExCel London

Next WTM Virtual: Monday 8 to 9 November 2021 – Virtual

Travel Forward London is the leading travel technology event, co-located with WTM London. Travel Forward is renowned for showcasing the next-generation technologies for the travel, tourism and hospitality industry. Over 19,000 travel officials and 150+ innovative solution providers attend for 3 days of cutting-edge insights, open debate and unrivalled networking opportunities. The combination of a 2-day conference, interactive exhibition and start-up showcase makes Travel Forward truly unique.

Next live event: Monday 1 November to Wednesday 3 November 2021 at ExCel London

Next Travel Forward Virtual: Monday 8 November to Tuesday 9 November 2021 – Virtual

London Travel Week, brought to you by WTM London, is the one-stop-shop for event hosts and visitors to be able to shape the next 12 months of travel together. The festival of events supports the global travel and tourism industry through capturing invaluable news and enhancing industry connections.

Next event: Friday 29 October – Friday 5 November 2021

WTM Virtualis the WTM Portfolio virtual platform, created to offer global delegates the chance to arrange one-to-one virtual meetings, to do business, attend conference sessions and roundtables, take part in speed networking and more. WTM Virtual embrace the global leading travel shows in one platform.

WTM Latin America takes place annually in São Paulo and attracts around 19,000 tourism professionals during a three-day event. The show offers qualified content, as well as networking and business opportunities. In its ninth edition – the first 100% virtual – WTM Latin America followed its focus on effective business generation and reached the milestone of 4,200 meetings held between buyers, travel agents and exhibitors.

Next event: Tuesday 5 to Thursday 7 April 2022 – Expo Center Norte, SP, Brazil

WTM Africa launched in 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa. More than 6,000 travel industry professionals attend Africa’s leading inbound and outbound travel and tourism market. WTM Africa delivers a proven mix of hosted buyers, media, pre-scheduled appointments, on-site networking, evening functions and invited travel trade visitors.

Next event: Monday 11 to Wednesday 13 April 2022 – Cape Town International Convention Centre, Cape Town

Arabian Travel Market (ATM), now on its 29th year, is the leading, international travel and tourism event in the Middle East for inbound and outbound tourism professionals. ATM 2021 showcased over 1,300 exhibiting companies from 62 countries across nine halls at Dubai World Trade Centre, with visitors from more than 140 countries over the four days. Arabian Travel Market is part of Arabian Travel Week. #IdeasArriveHere

Next in-person event: Sunday 8 to Wednesday 11 May 2022, Dubai World Trade Centre, Dubai

Arabian Travel Week is a festival of events taking place within and alongside Arabian Travel Market 2022. Providing a renewed focus for the Middle East’s travel and tourism sector, it includes ATM Virtual, ILTM Arabia, Arival Dubai, Influencers’ events and activations, as well as Travel Forward. It also features the ATM Buyer Forums, ATM Speed Networking Events as well as a series of country summits.

WTM Global Hub, is the new WTM Portfolio online portal created to connect and support travel industry professionals around the world. The resource hub offers the latest guidance and knowledge to help exhibitors, buyers and others in the travel industry face the challenges of the global coronavirus pandemic. WTM Portfolio is tapping into its global network of experts to create content for the hub.

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RX is in the business of building businesses for individuals, communities and organisations. We elevate the power of face to face events by combining data and digital products to help customers learn about markets, source products and complete transactions at over 400 events in 22 countries across 43 industry sectors. RX is passionate about making a positive impact on society and is fully committed to creating an inclusive work environment for all our people. RX is part of RELX, a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers.


RELX is a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers. The Group serves customers in more than 180 countries and has offices in about 40 countries. It employs over 33,000 people, of whom almost half are in North America. The shares of RELX PLC, the parent company, are traded on the London, Amsterdam and New York Stock Exchanges using the following ticker symbols: London: REL; Amsterdam: REN; New York: RELX. The market capitalisation is approximately £33bn, €39bn, $47bn.*

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