Research Insights U.K. travel market outlook and key developments

U.K. travel market outlook and key developments

July 2020
Phocuswright Research

Given the initial July reopening of U.K. accommodation, outbound tour operating and selected tourist attractions, Phocuswright projects that the actual decline in the total U.K. travel market will be greater than initial, more optimistic projections from early June. U.K. total gross bookings in 2020 are expected to drop 55% to £22.6 billion. Below are the outlook and key developments for the remainder of the year.

U.K. Total Gross Bookings, Monthly YoY Change (%), 2020 vs. 2019


2020 outlook: A full recovery of the U.K. airline industry will take time, large investments and financial security measures to avoid capital burnouts by airlines and airports.

  • Rescue program for travelers, but not airlines
  • Standstill in operations
  • Government loans and investments needed 2020


Hotel & Lodging  

2020 outlook: Despite glimmers of hope, full recovery will take a long time.  July reopening includes strict safety and hygiene measures, and occupancy is expected to grow slowly.

  • Accommodation recovery set to begin
  • Uncertainty in London 



2020 outlook: Further increases in service and passenger volume strongly depend on governmental regulations. The public rail in the U.K. will be resilient enough against COVID-19.

  • Mind the queues
  • The triumph of the facemask
  • Generosity in refunds 


Tour Operators  

2020 outlook: In 2020, the U.K. tour operator segment risks losing the vast majority of its business.

  • Deep cost cutting
  • Thomas Cook: ATOL's COVID-19 warmup
  • Reimbursements with minimized cash



2020 outlook: The fate of OTAs has always been linked to suppliers, and this dependence is especially true in the time of the coronavirus pandemic. With travelers turning to supplier-direct channels to access the most recent information on travel restrictions and safety measures, OTAs risk losing relevance in the distribution funnel.

  • The refund dilemma
  • OTAs fan flames of travel demand


For full projections of 2020 gross bookings, percentage changes and insights into each development and outlook, download the full report here. The report covers airlines, hotel & lodging, rail, car rental, tour operators and Online Travel Agencies (OTAs).

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To the Brink & Back


Did you see the announcement regarding the theme for The Phocuswright Conference 2020? Read about "To the Brink & Back" here