UK holidays: Tier 4 ‘confusion’ may be ‘damaging’ for future staycations

Matt Hancock: Parts of south to enter Tier 4 on Boxing Day

Holidays in the UK saw something of a boom in 2020 as Britons swapped their overseas jaunts for travel here in Blighty. However, as new coronavirus lockdown rules have reared their head, the UK tourism industry saw itself falling back into a spiral of cancellations and refunds.

Now, one expert has warned the “confusing” Tier 4 messaging could be detrimental to future holidays.

Dan Yates, founder of global outdoor accommodation booking platform believes the latest restrictions have damped the spark of hope the vaccine had initially brought for tourism.

“ had seen an increase in consumer confidence via searches on the platform in early December, as the announcement about the vaccination sent a beacon of hope to Brits about the end of the pandemic,” he explained.

“The ruling that in tier 3 you should avoid travelling outside your tier 3 area yet could travel abroad sent out a very mixed message about our national approach. Bookings, however, remained relatively buoyant.”

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This rapidly changed, however, when Boris Johnson plunged millions of people back into draconian measures following the revelation of a “new strain” of COVID-19 said to be 70 percent more contagious.

Under new rules, those in tier 4 areas are not permitted to leave.

Furthermore, people living outside of tier four may only enter the restricted area for essential purposes.

“As we now see a further 18 million people enter tier 4, we expect to see a huge rise in confusion about where customers stand with future and existing bookings,” said Mr Yates.

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“Not least because the rate of change is rapid.

“A key source of confusion is that they need to check the local regulations for both their point of origin and their destination – which may or may not be in the same tier or even country.”

The concern for holiday parks, hotels and operators is that they simply can not keep up with the rapid changes enforced by the Prime Minister.

“As I’m sure many travel businesses are encountering, it seems as soon as we manage to update web content relating to restrictions, it becomes outdated,” the expert continued.

“Confused messages undermine consumer confidence in booking ahead, which is incredibly damaging to the overall leisure economy.

“What we need now is for the government to take notice of this and take action, to facilitate positive steps that keep people safe whilst supporting the sector’s ultimate recovery.”

Tier 4 restrictions were announced initially on December 19, when London and swathes of the south-east were placed under the new rule.

Since then, yet more regions have been pushed into the strict new rule.

This has caused chaos for those hoping to travel for Christmas, with all non-essential journeys now illegal.

Britons living in tier 4 areas are also banned from travelling overseas.

“If you live in a Tier 4 area, you can only travel internationally – or within the UK – where you first have a legally permitted reason to leave home,” states the Government.

Permitted reasons for leaving home include work and volunteering, medical or compassionate visits, essential activities such as shopping or collecting medicine, fulfilling legal obligations, education and childcare purposes and outdoor exercise or recreation.

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