Charting the trends – understanding of government guidelines and limitations related to COVID–19 travel differs significantly from country to country

The global response to the coronavirus pandemic has differed from country to country, as have government guidelines and limitations related to COVID–19 travel. From blanket closures, via forced quarantines, to open borders, it is confusing picture for travellers. What’s more it is forever changing as changing infection levels can necessitate fast action to limit spread.

It is no surprise to therefore learn that consumers across the world have a mixed understanding on their respective government’s guidance for travellers entering or leaving their home countries. As part of its new International Travel & Tourism Report 2021, international research data and analytics group YouGov has been tracking consumer perceptions of the new COVID-19-related travel protocols around the world.

It asked consumers in 17 countries in Jun-2021 how clear or unclear their government’s guidance on travel is for travellers entering or leaving their home countries and the responses were as varied as the travel rules themselves. While 70% of respondents in the United Arab Emirates were clear on the government rules, only 27% of respondents in Germany shared the same observation on their own country’s rules.

In France, Germany, Hong Kong, Sweden and the United Kingdom more than half respondents were not clear on entry and departure rules: Spain had the highest level with 58% of respondents uncertain on the government border rules.

Not fully understanding the rules can have a prohibitive impact on travel. For example, the USA requires all air travellers entering the country to present a negative COVID-19 test before entering the country as well as provide proof of recovery in the case that they contracted the virus in the past 90 days.

The YouGov data shows that In the US, slightly more than a third of American adults say these travel guidelines are clear, with 29% saying they are not very clear with a further 22% of Americans unaware of travel guidelines for the country.

Strict travel guidelines are in full force in many European countries. In the UK, it’s advised not to travel to amber or red listed countries to reduce the spread of new strains of the virus. In Spain, it’s mandatory to present proof of full vaccination or a negative test result, whereas prospective travellers to Denmark are subject to a mandatory COVID-19 test and a 10-day quarantine period.

The YouGov data indicates that more than half of the public in the UK (56%) and Spain (58%) believe that there is a lack of clarity in these guidelines. Danes are divided in their opinion of their country’s travel guidelines, with 36% saying they’re clear and 37% saying they are not clear.

Apart from Poland where respondents who say they are clear about travel guidelines (45%) outnumber those who say it’s unclear (33%), a similar situation is prevalent in other European countries. This includes Italy, France, Germany, and Sweden where those who are unclear about travel guidelines in their home countries (49%, 52%, 52% and 54% respectively) significantly outnumber those who say these guidelines are clear (37%, 30%, 27% and 28% respectively).

Unlike theses two areas the research from YouGov shows that in general, consumers across Asia Pacific and the Middle East & North Africa describe the travel guidelines relating to COVID-19 in their home countries as clear and easy to understand.

The UAE, for example, tops these countries with seven in ten Emiratis (70%) say they are clear about travel guidelines. Even with frequent changes in air travel bans to specific countries or mandatory vaccination certificate requirements, a majority of Indians are also clear on travel guidelines related to COVID-19 (64%). Similarly, more than half of Singaporeans (56%) and Australians (56%) also agree that the travel guidelines in their respective home countries are clear.

They say ‘a picture paints a thousand words’. In this regular section CTC – Corporate Travel Community offers an illustrative insight into a key industry observation or trend, this week highlighting a graphic from the aforementioned YouGov research that illustrates understanding of government guidelines and limitations related to COVID–19 travel.


Departure frequencies down -1.03% versus last week; up +38.72% versus 2020 and down -30.58% versus 2019.

Seat capacity down -1.26% versus last week; up +42.06% versus 2020 and down -31.44% versus 2019.

CHART: Week-on-week change in flight departures by region

CHART: Year-on-year weekly departures performance for world’s top 30 markets versus 2019

CHART: Year-on-year weekly departures performance for world’s top 30 markets versus 2020

CHART: Departure capacity trends with year-on-year performance

CHART: Departure capacity trends versus 2019

CHART: The world’s biggest aviation markets by departure seats

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