As US travel restrictions relax, travel from UK to increase by 10 million


  • Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFR) travelers who may lead the request in the immediate travel resumption phase.
  • VFR travel is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24.8% between 2021 and 2024.
  • Flights between the UK and the US are expected to support the resumption of travel between two countries as demand for flights increases.

The announcement that travel restrictions to the United States for vaccinated UK residents will be relaxed from early November will be greeted positively by those keen to reunite with family and friends. The number of people traveling outside the UK to visit friends and relatives (VFR) is expected to increase from 10.6 million in 2021 to 20.5 million by 2024, an impressive CAGR of 24.8 %. This is only good news for American tourism, which will benefit from an influx of British tourists.

VFR travel is expected to drive demand in the immediate future as travel restrictions begin to ease and pent-up demand is released. In fact, VFR is expected to increase at a faster rate than recreation, which is unusual as pre-COVID recreation was significantly more in demand than VFR. Focusing on the demand for VFR travel would be a smart move for the UK and we airlines, as British travelers seek to reconnect with loved ones after months of separation.

In a recent poll, 58% of people polled around the world found that quarantine requirements were the biggest deterrent for international travel, and an additional 55% said they would be deterred by travel restrictions.

Reluctance to travel is subject to change with the relaxation of travel restrictions and quarantine requirements. From early November, fully vaccinated UK travelers will be able to bypass quarantine requirements and face fewer travel restrictions when entering the United States. However, they will still need to provide proof of a negative test result no more than three days before travel or proof of recovery from COVID-19 within the past three months.

This relaxation bodes well for those who wish to venture abroad. The we has long been a popular destination for UK tourists and industry analysis shows that the we was the fifth most popular international destination in 2019. With the easing of restrictions, it is likely that pent-up demand will be released and provide much-needed revenue for travel agencies.

Direct flights could also play a role in generating much-needed income and increasing the frequency of flights.

UK-based airlines with a strong we flight schedules, including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, have reported an increase in demand for flights to the United States. Direct flights are likely to be preferred by travelers as they provide a seemingly safer experience than connecting through a hub.

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