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New research from UK-based travel insurance specialist Columbus Direct reveals millions of Britons have cut their holiday short due to an unforeseen event in the last 12 months

A quarter (25 per cent) of travellers surveyed had to head home early because of illness or accidents either to themselves or a travelling companion. In light of geopolitical events across the globe in the last 12 months, one in six (16 per cent) Brits that had to catch an earlier flight were forced to do so as a result of security and safety threats at their holiday destination. Included in this number are people who have received official warnings from government bodies, such as the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), to leave their holiday resort as a result of a plausible terror threat or in the event of a terrorist attack.

Of the top 10 countries most visited by UK holidaymakers, four countries are ‘very likely’ to experience terror threats according to the FCO. France, the US, Turkey and Germany all have high terror level alerts and, as extremely popular destinations for British tourists, could mean even more Brits abroad may need to be flown home early in coming years, leading to increased travel and accommodation costs. 

 

Table 1: Top holiday destinations2 and their FCO terror threat level3

Destination

Country

FCO terror level

1

Spain

Likely

2

France

Very likely

3

Italy

General

4

USA

Very likely

5

Greece

General

6

Portugal

Underlying

7

Netherlands

General

8

Turkey

Very likely

9

Irish Republic

Underlying

10

Germany

Very likely

Source: Office of National Statistics and FCO

 

Being light of pocket also affects holidaymakers’ travel plans, with one in ten citing either running out of money, or theft as the reason they headed home early. It’s not only holidaymakers that go bust, however, as one in thirteen of those that had to leave a holiday early did so as a result of their holiday company becoming bankrupt in the middle of a trip.

Although people may use vacations as a chance to escape real life, 22 per cent have had to leave a holiday due to issues back home, with nine per cent needing to get back to work earlier than expected, and 13 per cent rushing back for a family emergency.

 

Table 2: Top five reasons for leaving a holiday early

Number

Reason

Percentage

1

Illness or accidents

25 per cent

2

Unsafe/official warnings to leave the country

16 per cent

3

Family emergencies

14 per cent

4

Weather conditions/natural disasters

13 per cent

5

Running out of money

10 per cent

Source: Columbus Direct, 2017

 

Alison Wild, head of travel insurance at Columbus Direct, said: “From an insurance perspective, travellers should make sure to check whether they are covered for the extra costs that may be associated with leaving a holiday early; if you have accident and injury cover while abroad, will it also cover the expense of an earlier flight home, or the refund of accommodation? This is easy to check through your insurance provider and it is better to be safe than sorry and to be prepared for the unexpected.”