After the Easter business is canceled for travel companies due to the Corona restrictions, they urgently need more bookings for Whitsun and in summer. But is there any reason for hope at all?
If a company boss is unshakably optimistic, then Tui CEO Fritz Joussen. “Our bookings for the summer are at an encouraging level,” said the manager recently at the general meeting of Europe’s largest travel group. He was particularly pleased that his customers are currently spending an average of almost a quarter more on their vacation than they did before the crisis. And so that more people will finally book, he promised his customers: “Travel in Europe will be possible in the summer of 2021 – safely and responsibly.” That is why Joussen is forced to spread confidence: “The increasing interest in holidays in the summer season is evident on all sales channels. ”
But his hope remains shaky. Current figures from the HomeToGo travel portal show that customers are less likely to search the Internet for summer and Whitsun trips than they used to. Apparently they don’t really believe in the summer vacation abroad. “We see a clear trend towards domestic German destinations,” says Jonas Upmann from HomeToGo.
HomeToGo data mainly relates to holiday apartments and houses. But in terms of trends, they also apply to the entire market. “On average, these customers tend to travel abroad more than normal vacationers because they consider staying in rented properties to be safer than staying in hotels and usually already very familiar with their destinations,” said a board member of a travel company.
Less interest in the bathtub
The preference of German vacationers for their homeland hits the organizers hard. Because while customers mostly book their time-out around the Mediterranean with Tui, the Rewe subsidiary DER, Alltours or Lufthansa, holidaymakers usually turn to hoteliers or holiday rental landlords for their vacation in Germany, bypassing the travel giants.
The heavily indebted Tui and its financially hardly healthier competitors actually need a record-breaking wave of bookings in the summer this year – if possible on the days of Pentecost. Because of the Corona restrictions, business has already been canceled for the New Year. And because the companies had to cancel almost all of the good bookings at Easter, the otherwise first important sales driver of the season remains minimal. That is why the travel companies are already missing at least a quarter of their annual income. “Even if the worst case scenario is the 50,000 vacationers on Mallorca causing gasps: Because this is only a shadow of the previous business, it makes almost no difference to the industry,” says a board member of a travel company.
The swing to organizer-free leisure time in their own country is huge this year. While up to two thirds traveled abroad during the most beautiful weeks of the year before the crisis, according to HomeToGo only 40 percent plan to do so in the coming summer and only 30 percent at Pentecost. So it is little consolation that the Germans are still the most loyal foreign travelers this year. In Italy and Spain, only ten percent are interested in holidays abroad. That’s not even a third of what it was before the crisis. At 20 percent, the proportions in France and even in Great Britain are hardly better – despite the vaccinations.
Finland instead of South Africa
The lower interest in holidays abroad is distributed quite unevenly. Some countries even show a significantly higher level of interest. Around five percent more people are looking for a summer in Denmark than last year and in Norway and Finland the interest was in places even 20 percent higher than last year. In the Maldives, where there are few corona cases and vacationers are usually allowed to move without a mask after a test and a short quarantine, it is a good four percent more. This is ensured not least by the fact that some prominent managers such as the Austrian publisher Christian Mucha use the archipelago for long-term home offices.
In contrast, interest in the USA has fallen by 64 percent and in Thailand by as much as 73 percent. Almost no vacationers are interested in Indonesia and South Africa, which has recently been relatively safe. The differences are also relatively large within the countries. While in Italy the regions in the north around Lake Como and Lake Garda, which are easily accessible by car, have only slumped by 20 percent, the decline in islands such as Sardinia is more than two thirds.
However, the organizers should not give up all hope of good summer business yet, reassured HomeToGo manager Upmann. “We expect that there will be many more bookings in the short term as soon as there is a clear concept under which conditions may be traveled.”
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