The proportion of travellers arriving in the UK that had received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccination increased from 1 in 10 passengers in February 2021 to over 9 in 10 in March 2022.
The proportion of passengers arriving in the UK who had received more than two COVID-19 vaccinations increased from 11% to 74% for UK residents and from 7% to 57% for overseas residents between November 2021 (when the NHS booster programme for third doses began) and March 2022.
Travellers consistently reported feeling safe with social distancing measures, the wearing of face coverings, and the provision of hand sanitiser at airports between February 2021 and March 2022.
The proportion of travellers arriving in the UK who thought COVID-19 testing was important for travelling fell from 73% to 31% for UK residents, and from 75% to 35% for overseas residents, between February 2021 and March 2022.
Data regarding the attitudes of travellers arriving in the UK towards coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions, guidance and vaccinations have been collected on the International Passenger Survey from February 2021 to March 2022. Over this period vaccination rates of travellers have changed dramatically. In February 2021, less than 1 in 10 travellers arriving in the UK had received a vaccination for COVID-19 (7% of UK residents and 9% of overseas residents), by March 2022 more than 9 in 10 travellers had received at least one vaccination (92% of UK residents and 91% of overseas residents).
This increase also reflects the rise in the proportion of travellers who had received a third booster dose of COVID-19 vaccination. The proportion of travellers who had received a third dose of COVID-19 vaccination rose from 11% of UK residents and 7% of overseas residents in November 2021 to 74% of UK Residents and 57% of overseas residents in March 2022.
Attitudes towards COVID-19 prevention measures remained consistent over the year, with travellers feeling safe with social distancing, the wearing of face coverings, and the provision of hand sanitiser at airports. The only prevention measure that fell in importance for travellers over the course of the year was testing for COVID-19 prior to travelling. In February 2021, 73% of UK residents and 75% of overseas residents arriving in the UK said that COVID-19 testing was very important for safety. By March 2022, the proportions had fallen to 31% among UK residents and 35% among overseas residents. This decrease may have been because of the increasing vaccination levels among travellers over the course of the year.
UK residents consistently found it either “easy” or “very easy” to follow overseas restrictions between February 2021 and March 2022. Similarly, overseas residents consistently understood UK restrictions and were confident in accessing information about them over the year.Back to table of contents
Most travellers arriving in the UK think that having a coronavirus (COVID-19) test prior to arrival is either “very important” or “quite important” for safety (56% of UK residents and 63% of overseas residents in March 2022). In March 2022, one-third of all travellers arriving in the UK said that they think having a COVID-19 test prior to arrival is “very important” for safety; 31% of UK residents (down from 45% in October 2021) and 35% of overseas residents (down from 53% in October 2021), (Figure 3).
Figure 3: UK and overseas residents, arriving in the UK, said COVID-19 testing was “quite important” or “very important” for safety, over time
Proportion of interviewed UK and overseas residents, arriving in the UK, categorised by how important they think taking a COVID-19 test is for safety by month, UK, October 2021 to March 2022
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Travellers continue to feel that the wearing of face coverings and the provision of hand sanitiser made them feel safe during their journey. In March 2022, over half of travellers (59% of UK and 65% of overseas residents) said that the wearing of face coverings made them feel safe during their journey into the UK (Figure 4). Over half of travellers also said that the availability of hand sanitiser during their journey made them feel safe (56% of UK and 59% of overseas residents).
In England, on 10 December 2021, the legal requirement to wear face coverings was reintroduced for indoor settings and on public transport, having been previously removed on 19 July 2021. The legal requirement to wear face coverings was then removed on 22 February 2022. However, individual settings can advise the wearing of face coverings or the use of hand sanitiser and most major UK airports and airlines chose to continue to do so throughout March 2022.
Figure 4: The majority of UK and overseas residents arriving in the UK said that the wearing of face coverings made them feel safe during their journey
Proportion of interviewed UK and overseas residents, arriving in the UK, categorised by how safe they felt because of the wearing of face coverings by month. UK, October 2021 to March 2022
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A person who, being permanently resident in a country outside the UK, visits the UK for a period of less than 12 months. UK citizens resident overseas for 12 months or more coming home on leave are included in this category. Visits abroad are visits for a period of less than 12 months by people permanently resident in the UK (who may be of foreign nationality).
Traffic light system
For the period these data cover, there was a coronavirus (COVID-19) traffic light system in place for travel, banding countries in “green”, “amber” and “red” lists. It is important to note that the categorisation of countries has changed throughout the period July to December 2021. This should be considered when analysing the results of the data on understanding and accessing information on restrictions. On 4 October 2021, the traffic light system was simplified to a single “red” list of countries, which is reviewed every three weeks.
The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine across the UK, phase one of which began in December 2020, following the Department for Health and Social Care’s full UK COVID-19 vaccines delivery plan.Back to table of contents
This bulletin uses data from questions added to the International Passenger Survey (IPS) in February 2021. It measures the attitudes towards and experience of coronavirus (COVID-19) and associated restrictions, among travellers arriving in the UK.
Totals used to calculate percentages include all overseas arrivals (international visitors to the UK and UK residents arriving back in the UK) and exclude travellers leaving the UK. For the purposes of this bulletin, all Crown Dependencies have been counted as overseas residents and data from travel via tunnel and sea (except for Dover ferries) have been excluded because of small numbers.
This release is the final instalment of this series. Data regarding vaccination uptake of travellers arriving in the UK will continue to be collected as part of the International Passenger Survey.Back to table of contents
The International Passenger Survey (IPS) sample used for both UK and overseas residents arriving in the UK across the study (October 2021 to March 2022) totals 61,942 people. Individual breakdowns by residency and month cannot be supplied because of disclosure control of low counts.
Around 90% of international traffic in and out of the UK is subject to IPS sampling. If a person aged under 16 years was sampled, they were not asked the coronavirus (COVID-19) questions unless their parent or guardian gave permission.
It is difficult to predict interview numbers as interviews are being conducted under coronavirus restrictions and passenger flow is likely to be very low. We have attempted to offset the effects of the low numbers of anticipated travellers by reducing sampling intervals (so a higher proportion are selected for interview).
Using unweighted data
To provide the most timely insights, this bulletin contains unweighted data based on the actual numbers of people interviewed for the International Passenger Survey (IPS), meaning no account is taken of the different numbers of travellers represented by each respondent to the survey. Trends observed over time may be because of changes in the composition of survey respondents, rather than trends for the whole travelling population. Analysis comparing the weighted and unweighted data for the IPS for February and March 2021 found little difference in trends, suggesting this unweighted data can be considered as broadly indicative.
Further information can be found in Section 8 of our January 2022 bulletin.Back to table of contents
Contact details for this Statistical bulletin
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