A fifth of British travellers who went on last-minute summer holidays were not vaccinated, according to official data.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimated that 82 per cent of travellers had received at least one jab in August.
This was slightly lower than the 85 per cent of foreign people coming into the UK who said they had been inoculated.
Britons are not required to have a jab to go on holiday but having two doses of the vaccine was necessary to avoid quarantining for ten days on return from amber or red list countries in the old traffic light system.
New rules intended to make travel ‘easier and cheaper’ came into force yesterday, with fully vaccinated Britons no longer needing a test before flying back.
The UK has scrapped the green, amber and red categories for a ‘go’ or ‘no go’ system following criticism the previous system was too complicated.
Travel chiefs last night called on ministers to also scrap the the requirements for PCR testing on day two of re-entry to the UK for double-jabbed Brits. They pressed for all Covid testing to end for fully vaccinated Britons and for the switch to cheaper rapid tests to be brought forward.
Just four fifths of British holidaymakers returning from abroad this summer were vaccinated, according to official data. Graph shows: The proportion of British travellers returning to the UK who were vaccinated in each age group over time
Graph shows: The proportion of foreign travellers leaving the UK who were vaccinated in each age group over time
Ministers plan to replace the requirement for ‘gold standard’ PCRs — which can cost upwards of £100 — with cheaper and quicker lateral flows later this month, but have not yet set a date for the change.
The ONS figures come from the International Passenger Survey, which interviewed more than 26,000 passengers from March to August.
It showed 96 per cent of British holidaymakers leaving the country in August were vaccinated.
This was higher than the proportion of overseas travellers returning home from Britain (93 per cent).
Only 56.4 per cent of 16- to 24-year-olds said they had received a jab, with the UK’s vaccine rollout not extended to all over-16s until late August.
Meanwhile, a slightly higher proportion (60.7 per cent) of overseas travellers aged 16 to 24 leaving the UK during July had received a vaccine.
But the proportions across all other age groups were lower than in British holidaymakers.
Some 67 per cent of overseas residents said that they were not at all confident accessing information about the UK’s Covid restrictions
Britain’s current red list of countries/territories
The UK Government’s ‘red list’ of 54 countries is tipped to be reduced to just nine. These are the countries currently on the red list:
Congo (Democratic Republic)
Trinidad and Tobago
The ONS said: ‘Older UK residents, arriving into the UK, continue to be more likely to have been vaccinated than younger UK residents, aligning with the progress of the vaccine rollout in the UK.
‘Respondents in older age groups were more likely to have received their vaccine earlier during the vaccine rollout, and proportions reporting that they have had at least one dose among these age groups remained stable in August, but increased in younger age groups.’
In August, the majority of UK residents arriving into the UK said that they had found it either difficult (47 per cent) or very difficult (32 per cent) to follow overseas restrictions.
Some 67 per cent of overseas residents said that they were not at all confident accessing information about the UK’s Covid restrictions.
The Government’s ‘red list’ of 54 countries is tipped to be reduced to just nine on Thursday, just in time for families travelling during the half-term break.
Fully vaccinated residents and unvaccinated under-18s from more than 50 countries and territories can now enter the UK without a pre-departure lateral flow test.
Those groups now only need to take a single day-two PCR post-arrival test costing around £65, and complete a passenger locator form.
Under-11s were already exempt from pre-departure testing.
People arriving from a red tier destination will still be required to spend 11 nights at a quarantine hotel costing £2,285 for solo travellers.
It comes as travel bosses called on the Government to speed up its plans to ditch PCR tests in favour of cheaper lateral flow kits.
EasyJet boss Johan Lundgren said: ‘With half-term approaching, we urge the Government to move quickly on the planned replacement of PCR tests.
‘UK consumers need simple and affordable lateral flow tests now so travel opens up for more hard-working families.
‘But ultimately UK consumers have for too long been held back by unnecessary and expensive travel testing whereas across Europe testing has not been required for the vaccinated since July 1.’
British Airways chief Sean Doyle said: ‘We welcome the Government’s changes to the traffic light system, allowing travellers to benefit from the UK’s world-leading vaccination programme.
‘However, with fewer than 1 per cent of travellers returning from low-risk countries testing positive for coronavirus, we urge ministers to scrap all testing for fully vaccinated travellers as soon as possible.’
Under the new system, all people returning from red list countries must still quarantine in hotels for 11 nights at a cost of £2,285.
For the double-jabbed, pre-return tests which had to be taken within 72 hours of returning to England were ditched.