Exclusive: Most Brits are against international tourists visiting the UK this summer

Polling for the New Statesman suggests more than half of Britons think the country should not welcome tourists from abroad this year.

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Most Brits would not welcome international tourists this year, according to polling for the New Statesman.

Some 55 per cent of UK residents think travellers from abroad should not be allowed to visit the country this summer – even if they observe quarantine restrictions, the survey by Redfield & Wilton Strategies* found.

Just 31 per cent of those polled said tourists should be welcomed and 13 per cent said they did not know.

Currently only visitors from the handful of countries on the UK’s green list are allowed to enter the UK without have to quarantine when they arrive. 

Bernard Donoghue, director of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA), said: “We want to welcome international visitors back to the UK when it is safe for them, and safe for us to do so.”

He added that tourism is the UK’s fifth biggest industry and third largest export sector. “Our international visitors are crucial to this sector’s repair and recovery. Without them many businesses, including iconic attractions, will simply be unable to remain open.”

[see also: “I’ve never been more lonely”: The families separated by the amber list]

With another year of domestic holidays on the cards, the historic pattern for UK residents is to favour trips to coastal towns such as Scarborough, Blackpool, Skegness, Torbay and Brighton, along with city breaks. In May London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced a £6m campaign to attract domestic tourists to the capital to help revive its ailing economy.   

Meanwhile the Scottish government is supporting the tourism sector with a £25m tourism recovery package including funding to promote tourism in Scottish cities. A Scottish government spokesperson said: “We understand the concerns around international travel but with travel restrictions come significant difficulties for the tourism sector, both outbound and inbound.

“International travel restrictions are important in limiting the importation of further cases of the virus. We look forward to welcoming back international visitors safely to Scotland, when the time is right.”

*Polling of 1,500 eligible voters in Great Britain, conducted 19 May 2021.

[see also: How the pandemic has devastated global tourism]

Samir Jeraj is a Special Projects Writer at the New Statesman

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