London,
06
May
2020
|
12:26
Europe/London

LOTUS CORONAVIRUS UPDATE (05.05)

BACK TO WORK

Editorially, the last few days have been focused on how to get the UK out of lockdown and restart the economy.

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson offered his sympathies to those in tourism who have taken a hit from Covid-19. He promised that a road map would be announced this week with a menu of options together with dates and times of each measure dictated by data on where the nation is with the pandemic.

The Government is obliged to review the restrictions on 7 May, but at the weekend it announced that full details will not be revealed until 10 May. The Sun reported that the Prime Minister is keen to get the nation back working by the end of the month and speculation is rife as to what measures will be taken to enable restrictions to be loosened safely.

Grant Shapps: Be realistic about the shape of aviation post-pandemic

However, in a week full of negative headlines about aviation, it is clear that there are many questions that need answering and tackling prior to a complete recovery.

In an interview at the weekend with Andrew Marr on BBC1, the Transport Minister Grant Shapps said the UK needed to be realistic about how the aviation and holiday industry emerges from the Covid-19 crisis.

Travel Weekly reported that Shapps said: “It is clearly going to take some time for industries like aviation to come out of this.”

He also clarified comments made last month about him not planning to book a summer holiday this year.

He told Marr: “I have not said I would not book a holiday this summer, but that I would not book one yet.”

Asked about reports that visitors to the UK may be put in quarantine when flying does resume, Shapps said the Government would look at the medical advice.

He said medical screening procedures had not already been put in place at airports for returning Brits because it was not considered that it would make much difference to the spread of the disease during the peak. (Two week quarantine measures have been reported as being considered as part of a ‘second phase of response’ from the Government).

But he said as the infection rate domestically is brought under control and borders start to re-open it is vital that the UK does not import more Covid-19 cases from abroad.

Responding to the minister’s comments, Airlines UK – which represents airlines including British Airways, easyJet, Virgin Atlantic and Ryanair – said a quarantine would “completely shut off the UK from the rest of the world when other countries are opening up their economies”.

Chief executive Tim Alderslade told the BBC: “The danger is it would be a blunt tool when what the UK should be doing is leading internationally with health and aviation authorities on common standards, including health screening, which will enable our sector to restart and give people assurances that it’s safe to travel.”

Workplace Rules

The BBC has revealed that it has seen one set of seven possible workplace rules post-lockdown, which includes reducing hot-desking and alternatives to social distancing where it is not possible and recommendations to stagger shift times and maximise home working. These plans could only be put in place when the Government’s five tests have been met, which include a sustained and consistent fall in daily deaths.

There are plans for rail timetables to resume to normal schedules on 18 May, but this is so far unacceptable to the RMT and the rail unions who want to see evidence that it is safe to increase services and more detailed plans of safety at work before they agree to a return.

This mirrors the sentiments of the TUC, which has, according to London Loves Business slammed the Government’s draft guidelines for getting employees back to work during the coronavirus crisis, deeming them as putting people’s health at risk.

 

AVIATION

Concerns are growing over the UK's aerospace and aviation industry after a week that saw companies warn of more than 23,000 job cuts.

Boeing will reduce its workforce by 10%, citing a significantly reduced demand for production and a net loss of $641 million in Q1 this year and has said it does not expect air travel to return to 2019 levels until at least 2023.

Rolls Royce plans to cut up to 8,000 jobs and Airbus has said that it needs to ‘right size’ the business.

Chris Haslam in The Sunday Times quantified the size of the disaster and quoted a BA senior executive as describing it as ‘horrifying.’ His piece asked what the sector needed to do to survive given that Alex Cruz, the chief executive of BA, has said that the recovery of passenger demand to 2019 will take several years.

His piece outlined:

  • South African Airways is likely to follow Virgin Australia into administration
  • IATA says demand is down 82% and revenue by £250 billion. IATA’s chief economist predicts that airlines will spend cash reserves of more than $60 billion to stay afloat this quarter, threatening 25 million aviation-dependent jobs worldwide.
  • Airlines will:
    • Slim down
    • Abandon unprofitable routes
    • Reduce capacity
    • And airfares will be more expensive
    • Mandatory social distancing could be the biggest practical challenge to post-lockdown travel.

EU transport commissioner has not said what measures will be required, but The Sunday Times said it will likely to be based on an EASA (European Union Aviation Safety Agency) report which will include wearing face masks.

Air Changan in China is allowing each passenger to buy eight seats for £180 and EasyJet has said it would take middle seats off sale.

However, industry group Airlines for Europe, told the EU last week that “social distancing is neither necessary nor viable on board an aircraft” – which of course would lower load factors and margins.

IATA says that passenger confidence will be hit by personal economic worries, a wider economic recession and concerns about the safety of travel.

The industry is also embroiled in the refund row, further eroding passenger trust with 4.5 million customers who booked cancelled flights up to June 30 issued with credit notes valid for up to two years, but with no guarantee as to how much they will be worth.

Haslam quotes Rob Burgess from Head for Points who believes business travel will not recover quickly as companies reassess the need to travel.

Heathrow Airport

Heathrow gave a trading update last week.

The chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, said:

  • Physical distancing measures could not work in airports as you need one kilometre for one plane load of 450 people.
  • He called on the Government to save the summer season and take the lead in developing a global agreement for new common international standards at airports for health controls, which could include temperature screening at the entrance to airports and the wearing of face masks
  • He said that the UK Government stands out globally as being one of the few governments not to bail out airlines – as a result jobs are being shed.

Ryanair & IAG

Whilst Ryanair is not asking for government bailouts, it says that it won’t resume flying until July and its announcement of job cuts came with a promise to go to the European Courts about how it is now operating in an unfair environment as many European governments are bailing out airlines – such as Lufthansa, Air France-KLM, Alitalia, Vueling and Iberia. Michael O’Leary, the CEO says this is happening despite it being a clear breach of EU competition and state aid rules. (Norwegian Air Shuttle and Swiss Air are also now receiving state aid).

Parent company of Vueling and Iberia, IAG, has said that it does not want help from the UK Government for BA, although it announced 12,000 jobs will go in the airline. This move by IAG is two-faced says the Unite Union: “This is another gross insult to the UK workforce that BA plans to send to the dole.”

Buffett Ditches US Airlines

Many media outlets reported that as the aviation industry loses billions and sheds tens of thousands of jobs, the billionaire chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett, has sold off all his shares in US airlines saying: “We took money out of the business basically even at a substantial loss.

“We will not fund a company…where we think that it is going to chew up money in the future.” This he did, despite pent up demand for the sector says Travel Daily.

Investment bank ‘to advise on keeping UK airlines in business’

On a more positive note, Travel Weekly reports that Morgan Stanley is due to advise the Government on a package of measures to keep UK airlines afloat during the coronavirus crisis and a £5.7 million government grant is being made to secure air links between Northern Ireland and the mainland UK.

Facemasks required at MAG and on Eurostar

Travellers using Manchester Airports Group terminals and Eurostar trains will be required to wear face masks from this week.

 

CRUISE

The Daily Telegraph reports that demand for cruises will bounce back within the year, said the CEO of TUI cruises, Wybcke Meier. She said that roughly half of those guests whose trips have been cancelled have already rebooked.

Cruises to sail with fewer guests

Cruise ships are likely to be restricted to carrying fewer guests to allow for “more natural space” when cruising first re-starts after the Covid-19 pandemic, the boss of Royal Caribbean UK has said. Vice president EMEA Ben Bouldin said that as well as enforced reduced load factors, cruise lines are also anticipating more automation at check-in, increased screening and enhanced medical facilities and capacity on board.

He said lines were also looking at new procedures to disembark guests quickly from ships in the event of a future Covid-19 outbreak and said social distancing measures in dining rooms and around the pool decks are all likely for post-pandemic cruising.

Royal Caribbean could sail partial summer season

Cruise Critic reports that Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas, which was due to start sailing from the UK this month, could still sail a partial summer season. Ben Bouldin, revealed that past the line’s cancelled sailings (to June 11), the ship is really well booked”. 

 

HOTELS

Hotel gains

PhocusWire reports on an uptick in hotel activity. Two of the latest hospitality industry reports, one from RateGain in collaboration with IDeaS and HSMAI, and the other from STR, both hint at slight increases in demand in markets around the world.

RateGain’s second Covid-19 Report tracks room reservations and cancellations trends from more than 20 countries in North America, South America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

From 12 to 18 April, 18 of the 20 countries showed a week-over-week increase in reservations, ranging from increases in the 60% range for countries such as Oman, Argentina and Czech Republic to an increase of 17% in the United States and 5% in the United Kingdom, Thailand and Vietnam.

STR’s report looks at occupancy during the week of 19 to 25 April. In that period in the U.S., absolute occupancy rose slightly to 26%, up from 23.4% and 21% the two prior weeks.

Caribbean hotels 'fear for survival'

Caribbean hotel owners have told Travel Weekly that they fear for their future after numerous tour operators changed their payment terms.

 

TOUR OPERATORS

Tui News

TTG reports that Tui Group boss Fritz Joussen has urged EU member states to develop "a roadmap" to restore leisure travel in Europe "and make holidays possible in 2020".

Speaking following the resumption of Tui China’s operations, chief executive Joussen said Tui holiday travel search was almost back to normal levels, adding bookings for 2021 were at a "favourable level".

He also suggested some countries were already taking steps to ready themselves for a return of tourism, citing Greece, Cyprus and Portugal as being ahead of the game.

"Tourism within Europe needs a clear perspective," said Joussen. "The EU and the member states should develop a roadmap for travel within Europe and make holidays possible in 2020.”

Tui has extended cancellation of holidays until 11 June for beach breaks and 30 June for sailings

 

TRAVEL AGENTS

TTG has reported a jump in sales through travel agent sales through its Agent Tracker.

  • The survey of 191 travel consultants for the week ending 24 April found 42% of respondents made a sale in the past week, compared with 29% in the previous poll.
  • Europe accounted for nearly half of all enquiries, with North America the next most popular destination (19%).
  • Beach holidays were the most popular holiday type, with 40% asking about these, while 19% named cruise as the next most popular choice.
  • There is also evidence that consumers are not afraid to spend, with the highest proportion of new bookers (36%) being those of £1,000-plus.
  • Less than 4% of sales were for this summer, with winter and spring 2021 packages accounting for 24% of sales. The biggest seller is summer 2021, with 33% of the total.

Industry Won’t See Bookings Upturn Until ‘Early Autumn’

Travel businesses should not expect an immediate bounce back once coronavirus restrictions are lifted, Chris Photi, head of travel and leisure at accountants White Hart Associates has warned

Some businesses would not take any bookings until 2021, Photi predicted, adding cruising “would come back last” – not until 2021 – with domestic travel rebounding first; although resorts with “closed environments” like holiday parks would be slower to bounce back, he said.

TripAdvisor

Tripadvisor CEO Steve Kaufer informed employees last week that the company is reducing its global workforce by 25 percent, as part of a broader restructuring, Skift has learned.

 

ENTERTAINMENT / ATTRACTIONS

Merlin Entertainments

Merlin said 90% of its 28,000 employees globally have been furloughed and it called for furlough to be extended in the UK. The Financial Times reported that the operator of Legoland and Madame Tussauds is raising €500m in new bonds, with the private equity-backed Merlin Entertainments seeking urgent funding to see it through a near total shutdown of its theme parks and attractions.

Florida parks

A Daily Telegraph feature reported that despite reports on guidelines to open parks in Florida in June, it is likely to be July before any are open.

 

THE REFUND ISSUE

Developments

  • The BBC, reports that MPs at a select committee on Wednesday will hear witnesses including John Holland-Kaye, chief executive of Heathrow Airport; Simon Calder, senior travel editor of the Independent; and Mark Tanzer, chief executive of ABTA about how implications from the Coronavirus have impacted the transport sector. Issues covered include the finances of airlines and airports, refunds and quarantine periods and how air travel will work as the restrictions are eased.
  • Package holidays have not been included in the CMA’s investigation into refunds and cancellations reports TTG.  
  • The CAA said that airlines should provide cash refunds. Under European law, airlines should refund customers within seven days of a cancelled flight. Ryanair say that it will take six months and said that the airline was dealing with 25 million refunds.  
  • The Daily Mail says that airlines and tour operators owe an estimated £7 billion to holidaymakers. The paper claims it has seen documents that suggest easyJet has saved at least £700 million, partly by encouraging passengers to choose vouchers.
  • Tour operators have been accused of taking money for holidays even after bookings. The Times has been told about customers of Jet2.com, the airline and tour company, who have been charged as much as £2,500 for holidays despite being informed weeks earlier that it had fallen foul of the coronavirus lockdown.
  • The European Commission has rejected a German government scheme to replace cash refunds to consumers for cancelled holidays with vouchers. This is despite the commissioner twice advising member states to find “flexible solutions” to demands for refunds, saying consumers “should consider accepting a voucher” during the Covid-19 crisis.
  • The European Travel Agents and Tour Operators’ Association (Ectaa) and EU Travel Tech, representing online agents and travel technology providers, called for a temporary amendment of EU legislation to allow voucher refunds to replace cash repayments to consumers.
  • The governments of Germany, Italy and Spain have joined 12 others in the EU demanding a suspension of airline refund rules.
  • Nigel Thompson, travel editor of The Daily Mirror has commented that the travel industry is tarnished by the issue, whilst understanding why so many companies are struggling with refunds, he says: “Rightly the public are furious….Government intervention is surely required.”

 

FUTURE OF TRAVEL

With no immediate sign of government advice against non-essential travel, airlines such as Ryanair state that it is not going start flying again until July and The Times says this means many Britons will miss out on a traditional summer holiday.

Last week, in line with other European countries, tour operator Tui extended its cancellation of all its programmes from the UK to mid-June. However, it does look as if late June and the beginning of July will see a reignition of the industry to some extent.

Skift: Timeline re-opening of tourism in the western world  

Skift reports on a timeline of the re-opening of tourism in the western world produced by Canadian consultancy Twenty31.

According to its report:

  • Domestic travel will begin again at the end of June / beginning of July for some destinations.
  • Although some destinations (Spain, Australia) are hinting that tourism may not return this year.
  • In Canada, leading indicators continue to point to an easing of travel restrictions occurring gradually starting with inter- and intra-provincial travel (around mid / end of June / beginning of July), followed by regional travel (mid-July), and eventually international short-haul (mid- to late-August) and long-haul travel (into the autumn). When travel does restart, outdoor and small group activities appear to be more promising when compared to higher density activities.

What will travel look like when restrictions lift?

Different media have speculated on how different travel will be post-pandemic. These include the following:

The Sunday Times

Duncan Craig, Travel Editor, The Sunday Times said:

· “Let’s stop talking about travel in binary terms: on or off. The reality is tranches, tiers, staggered reopenings and rapid reclosures,” in a round up entitled The Future of Travel: The Experts featuring key figures in the industry.

· In the short term, only most fervent travellers will want to fly and subject themselves to the medical / quarantine measures, the hassle, the cost and the risk. Could flying become a young and healthy person’s game?

There will be:

  • The eradication of ghost flights
  • An end to phantom levels of protection
  • An end to excessive and binge travel
  • A trend to towards fewer, longer and more meaningful holidays
  • A domestic travel boom
  • Major amounts of autonomous travel – ie self-drive by Channel Tunnel
  • A trend of nature and fresh-air holidays over city breaks
  • Social distancing in restaurants, spas and beaches

Other viewpoints in the feature included:

Jules Ugo, MD of LOTUS

  • The travel industry is resilient, but we may not have the choice we are used to
  • Domestic travel will open up first
  • Other countries will open up as and when their situation allows
  • Keep travel fluid and don’t book too far in advance
  • Bucket-list destinations will remain popular as people commit to ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ places. We may travel less, but we will travel better – and contribute more to aid projects and local communities
  • Our need for human contact will prompt us to visit friends and family overseas, but we will seek out villas, AirBnB and the like
  • City breaks may suffer in favour of open spaces and clean air
  • Hotels, airlines and airports will have to work out how to manage crowds while safeguarding health — it will be a springboard for tech that helps to limit people-to-people contact

Noel Josephides, Director of AITO (Association of Independent Tour Operators) and Chairman of Sunvil

  • There is an immense will to travel, but it will be more expensive, with job losses and a smaller sector
  • 60-70 year olds may not feel so confident about travel in destinations with small medical facilities
  • Destinations may not want Brits
  • Environmental issues will still be a priority

Susan D’Arcy, Hotel Editor for The Times and Sunday Times

  • UK hoteliers hope lockdown restrictions will be eased by July, but few think this will be end of worries. As while demand might be high, a significant part of peak season travel will have been lost.
  • There will be pressure to discount
  • Hotels will have to implement post-pandemic measures
  • Some hotels will delay opening until spring 2021 when conditions are improved
  • Luxury country house hotels set to do well, with space and location in their favour
  • Urban hotels braced for downturn amongst business and leisure
  • London may not recover fully before 2022
  • Safety measures will be financially punitive
  • Self-service check-in will become the norm
  • Cleanliness will be lauded with hotels doing this better than AirBnB
  • More will follow Singapore and Portugal’s lead of independently audited hygiene schemes
  • More extended families in luxury lodges and private villas

Rory Boland, Travel Editor for Which?

  • The bargain prices of the past 20 years may be behind us
  • Without government intervention, travel businesses will go bust
  • More of us will look beyond price and customer service has become important
  • Deals will tempt us back, but consumers will choose to pay a bit more to book with a better company with a good customer-service record.

Gordon Smith, Editor, Airliner World

  • Consolidation in the airline world is now inevitable resulting in higher fares and fewer airlines
  • High airfares will kick in early on major corporate routes such as London to Frankfurt, New York and San Francisco, but in the short term we may see troughs of dirt-cheap tickets to midweek leisure destinations such as Faro in Portugal, Krakow in Poland and Girona in Spain
  • We can expect greater health-and-safety measures, but possibly not the vacant middle seats at which easyJet has hinted
  • Many airlines have used the crisis to give their fleets a comprehensive spring clean, so you’ll be less likely to find chewing gum down the side of your seats, and big names including BA and Virgin Atlantic have retired some of their oldest jets early, so there will be fewer dated cabins and more fuel-efficient aircraft

Mark Smith, rail expert and founder of seat61.com

  • Assuming people can afford to travel, the most significant medium-term risk is an economic downturn that suppresses demand, forcing operators such as Eurostar to trim services and defer expansion plan
  • Most national state-owned train operators, including franchise operators in the UK that the Government has temporarily nationalised, are well placed, and could bounce back quickly as lockdowns are lifted and borders reopen
  • Privately owned licensees running commercial routes — “open-access operators” such as Hull Trains and Grand Central — are in a more difficult position
  • Beyond the Covid-19 crisis, climate change will not have gone away and, if airlines are fewer in number and airfares higher, rail could look more appealing for longer-distance and international travel

Sue Bryant, Cruise Editor, The Times and The Sunday Times

  • Setting sail again depends on: airline capacity for fly-cruises; access to ports, and the availability of services such as tour buses and attractions at destination
  • For the rest of 2020, there will be shorter, closer-to-home itineraries until ports and borders reopen
  • Longer term there’s undeniable demand. Of the nearly 30m cruisers who set sail worldwide each year, 2m are from the UK and Ireland and bookings for 2021 are strong
  • Cruising won’t be the same. New guidelines may include more stringent health declarations (fit to travel doctors’ letters, frequent temperatures checks) fewer guests or social distancing and the demise of the self-service buffet

Sean Newsom, Ski Editor, The Times and The Sunday Times

  • If the 2020/21 ski season does go ahead, British skiers should expect fewer catered chalets, flights and financially protected packages. What is more, if they want their travel insurance to cover Covid-19 disruption or illness, they will have to pay a premium
  • The coronavirus is also likely to accelerate existing trends such as ski-touring and cross-country skiing
  • The resurgence of ski apartments is likely to continue too because they are more private and because increased staffing costs will force up chalet-holiday prices
  • A new wave of ski fanatics is gathering: the 2022 Winter Olympics will be held in Beijing and the neighbouring province of Hubei, and China aims to create 300m winter-sports fans through a massive construction programme of ski areas and skating rinks.

Andrew Dunn, Founder, Scott Dunn luxury travel company

  • Travel and hospitality will come back, but different countries will come back at different times, it won’t be uniform
  • We will reach a point at which people just want to get away. What will happen first is that those with ultra-high net worths will get in their private jets and go to private islands, or places where the accommodation is isolated or separat
  • People are likely to holiday differently. They will want to keep their distance, so open space, clean air and mountain retreats are likely to be the focus. The other thing is that people have gone fitness crazy during the lockdown, so trips may become more activity-centred
  • From 1 to 23 April they had a surprisingly high number of inquiries — nothing like what it would have ordinarily been, but they thought that it could be zero. People have been inquiring about ski holidays, the Indian Ocean, Kenya, Tanzania, Costa Rica and the Caribbean. They’ve taken a few bookings for the back end of this year, but most are for 2021. There is no doubt that people are dreaming about the future.

The BBC

The BBC looked at what measures are being looked at by the industry and what global travel may look like ahead of a vaccine:

  • Hong Kong International Airport is testing a full-body disinfectant device. This, the airport says, can sanitise users within 40 seconds, using sprays that kill bacteria and viruses on skin and clothing.
  • Airports with electronic check-in kiosks are encouraging passengers to use them to avoid unnecessary interaction.
  • The introduction of an immunity passport
  • Several airports announced they were introducing "thermal detection screening". But with many people infectious and asymptomatic, this is a divisive measure.
  • The Emirates are offering passengers rapid Covid-19 blood tests prior to boarding at Dubai airport terminals. Emirates says the tests produce results within 10 minutes.
  • On the plane, staff and passengers to all wear masks.
  • Most major airlines have already declared that they stepped up sanitation measures before lockdown.
  • Airlines such as Korean Air have cabin crew with full PPE.
  • Costs for airfares on airlines who enforce social distancing will go up.
  • Some destinations are considering tall sheets of plexiglass used to separate sun loungers on beaches.
  • Hotels are considering not opening every room and restaurants will adapt working procedures and take out tables.
  • European countries have been discussing ‘corridors.’ Croatia, for example, has already said that it may provide tourists from the Czech Republic and Slovakia with special access to its beaches this summer.

The Daily Mail

Tom Chesshyre and Rob Crossan in The Daily Mail also looked at how airports, airlines, trains, cruises, insurance and resorts could be affected. Whilst they acknowledged there has been speculation of business failures and a slow recovery, they concluded the travel landscape will change. With Heathrow calling for international regulations to be uniform, they speculate what the new rules at airports could be:

  • Queues for boarding with two-metre spacing. Passengers may be sent text messages calling them to gates to avoid crowding.
  • Earlier check-in times. Turning up four hours before flights could be commonplace.
  • Widespread Covid-19 testing of passengers. Already in Dubai, Emirates is carrying out blood tests. At Hong Kong International, tests with results taking up to 12 hours are in place
  • Health certificates. Thai authorities already demand that documents showing visitors ‘pose no risk of being infected’ are issued no more than 72 hours before landing.
  • Insurance certificates could also come in; Thailand requires Covid-19 cover for up to £80,000.
  • Walkways to planes with ‘disinfectant tunnels’, in which passengers are checked and bags ‘sani-tagged’ after electrostatic cleansing or UV disinfection.
  • More facial recognition systems and fewer passport checks, which might make immigration faster.
  • More sophisticated security machines that do not require you to remove laptops or liquids.

They conclude: new procedures are likely, but there is a chance that, once systems are well established, movements could be smoother than ever.

The Telegraph

  • The Telegraph reported that Britain’s leading institutions and museums are considering setting times and limit numbers in order to adhere to social distancing rules.
  • Drive-in cinemas are poised for success in era of Covid-19. Drive-in cinemas have opened in Germany, Lithuania and Czech Republic and there are early signs that they could also be popular in the UK.

 

ECONOMY

The Sunday Times reports that the Office for Budget Responsibility’s scenarios for the impact of the shutdown based on a 35% fall in second-quarter GDP and nearly 13% for the year, suggest unemployment will soar by two million to 10% in the second quarter.

Furlough has protected about 4 million jobs, but it is planned that the scheme will be wound down after 30 June.

 

DESTINATIONS

Tourism Ministers in the EU met last week to discuss ideas for a Covid-19 passport – a certificate confirming they do not carry the virus, but details have yet to be worked out.

The European Commission has promised to come up with proposals by 13 May.

The UK

The Telegraph reports that all but eight countries around the world have effectively banned UK tourists.

Steve Bird has written in The Telegraph how UK seaside resorts – desperate for business – will have to adapt to draw visitors back. Tourism trade bodies are calling on Government to launch a public information campaign to promote the staycation in July & August and show it is “socially responsible” to travel if people practice social distancing once travel restrictions are eased. Visit Britain is asking Government for a trademark slogan to promote staycations as locals and consumers alike are now nervous about the dangers of the ‘outside world’.

The Telegraph has provided a round-up of popular destination countries and their lockdown status.

Germany

Last week the German Government extended its advice against all foreign travel until 14 June. Asked last week to give assurances her compatriots would be able to go abroad this summer, the chancellor, Angela Merkel, replied curtly the issue was “not on the agenda”.

In Brandenburg, Germany, museums have opened their doors, says The Telegraph.

Italy

As of 4 May, four million Italians returned to work and can now  visit relatives, jog in reopened parks and attend funerals, but masks must be worn in closed public spaces and social grouping is still forbidden, as are visits to second homes.

Shops will not reopen until 18 May, apart from the essential ones that never shut, while cafés and restaurants will remain closed until 1 June and schools will not reopen before September, with some home schooling remaining even then to keep classes smaller.

The Telegraph reports that hotels will hope to reopen at the end of May (although they were not ordered to close, few were open during the travel ban), but realistically, there is no clear idea when international tourists will be allowed back in.

The Guardian reports that the banking group UBS said that Italy’s tourism revenues fell by 95% in March.

France

The French Government announced measures to open the country from 28 April. Small museums, galleries and libraries - that can respect distancing guidelines - will be able to reopen from 11 May, along with national parks, but bigger museums, theatres and beaches will not be open until June.

Spain

According to the Spanish Government there is a four point action plan to get the tourism industry working again. The Telegraph reports hotels on the smaller islands of Spain such as in Formentera in the Balearics, and La Gomera, El Hierro and La Graciosa in the Canaries, are able to reopen from 4 May at 30 per cent capacity, but hoteliers have criticised the move as there are no tourists to accommodate; nightclubs are due to stay closed as they don’t have enough money for the increased health costs, staff wages and running costs.

However, the MallorcanTonic, told The Telegraph there has been a surge in online interest for luxury hotel holidays from the British, American and German markets and said that many hotels will consider offering flexible rates and relaxed booking conditions this summer and autumn, with savings of as much as 20 or 30 percent on 2019 rates.

No specific date has been given for when bars and restaurants will reopen, although rural ones will open first.

The Guardian says that the banking group UBS said that Spain’s tourism revenues fell by 77% in March.

Officials in Mallorca and Ibiza are cautiously hoping that international tourists could be allowed in from late July.

Lithuania

The Guardian reports that Vilnius announced plans this week to give over much of its public space to hard-hit bar and restaurant owners so they can put their tables outdoors and still observe physical distancing rules.

USA

Non-essential businesses and national parks are still closed. Some states like Texas are phasing an exit with social distancing and opened businesses like restaurants to open at 25% capacity. New York is in strict lockdown but measures to release have been announced for upstate.

The LA Times believes that domestic trips will be possible by the summer, and overseas trips by the autumn.

Australia

The Government has started to relax restrictions, reopening some schools and allowing individuals to drive for longer distances.

There are currently no flights operating between the United Kingdom and Australia and it has given no timeline for when international travellers will be able to enter the country.

Nicaragua

President Daniel Ortega wants life to go on as normal in Nicaragua and is urging his people to gather for "Zumbathons" and go to the beach for bikini pageants as well as other festivities that are being advertised with more prominence than usual.

China

Breaking Travel News reports that TUI China has resumed business operations, offering domestic tours for holidaymakers in China.

Three months after the subsidiary had to completely stop selling tours, the company is now offering mainly short trips to the mountains and Chinese beach resorts under the product name TUI Selection.

 

CONSUMER AND BUSINESS CONFIDENCE

Healthy Over 70s should be allowed out

The British Medical Association (BMA) and the Royal College of GPs have warned the UK Government that lockdown should be eased for the healthy over-70s because keeping them inside is damaging their mental health.

People fearful of leaving home

The BBC reported on an Ipsos Mori poll that has found that more than 60% would be uncomfortable about going out to bars and restaurants or using public transport, should ministers decide to relax the lockdown.

More than 40% would still be reluctant to go shopping or send their children to school and more than 30% would be worried about going to work or meeting friends.

UK Business Confidence at all-time low, survey reveals

The Guardian reports that, according to a survey of finance chiefs at Deloitte, business confidence at British companies has dropped to an all-time low due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The accountancy firm found that nine out of ten finance directors believe there is a high or very high level of uncertainty facing their business.

Three-quarters of the companies surveyed (76%) described reducing costs as a strong priority, as over half the firms (59%) have furloughed employees or (52%) have reduced output and shut down factories.

In addition, 30% of firms have accessed or intend to apply to the Bank of England’s Covid-19 corporate financing facility.

Travellers will seek reassurance and information before flying

Travellers are optimistic of flying again but are seeking information to reassure them it is safe and flexible, Skyscanner told a Travolution online conference panel last week.

Skyscanner’s regular consumer barometer is finding a high degree of optimism over the safety of international, and particularly domestic travel, within the next six months.

A spokesman for the company said: “We see travellers wanting to start travelling again. But we also see a lot about information being very important to travellers, about what the journey is going to be like, what restrictions there might be, what the border arrangements are.

“A lot of information or advice is needed and travellers are wanting that assurance when they are booking right up to travel, and also flexibility.

“So travellers are believing we might be in a cycle of opening up, then closing and they are wanting to know that they have flexibility so we’ve started adding notes on flexibility options for hotels and flights responding to that sort of feedback from a traveller.”

Consumer confidence crash

The Times reports that consumer confidence crashed to all-time low in April.

The YouGov/CEBR index, which is based on a survey of 6,000 households in Britain, fell to 92.7 in April, down from 98.6 in March. It was the lowest reading since the survey began in January 2012. Any score below 100 means that more consumers lack confidence than are confident.

The fall comes amid warnings that Britain is on the cusp of one of its worst economic downturns in modern history. According to the Office for Budget Responsibility, the UK economy will shrink by as much as 35 per cent in the second quarter of the year and unemployment will rise by 2 million to reach 10 per cent.

CLIA: Drop in consumer sentiment for cruise

Travel Weekly reports: 

  • Sixty-one per cent of consumers who have never cruised before would be “very likely or likely” to take a cruise in the next two years, according to new Clia research.
  • This compares to 71% when asked in autumn 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Of those who had cruised before, 75% said they were very likely or likely to take a cruise in the next two years when asked last month, compared to 79% who said the same last autumn.

The survey was of 500 respondents who have taken an international holiday in the last two years.

Clia UK director and vice president of membership, Andy Harmer said the results were encouraging.

“It is not a massive drop and so suggests that cruising is still robust. Once the time is right and people can travel again, this shows that people will cruise again.”

Families are still booking holidays after lockdown

The Daily Express reports that families are still booking summer holidays abroad. The piece quotes a travel source that people are dreaming and preparing for their next trips. Some travel providers have policies that are more flexible for people booking in the peak summer period. The piece also includes research by TravelSupermarket revealing that people are increasingly searching for holiday packages in October and November. Among the most popular holiday searches are Benidorm, the Maldives, Las Vegas, Tenerife, Orlando, New York, Cancun, Dominican Republic, Dubai and Majorca.

IATA

A recent survey by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) found that 60% of people questioned would wait for two months before booking flights after the coronavirus is contained - 40% said they would wait for at least six months.

Silver Travel Advisor Survey

Silver Travel Advisor has published the results of a survey  completed by over 800 older travellers between 15-30 April 2020 about how Coronavirus has affected their holiday plans and future travel intentions.

Key findings include:

  • 52% have not been affected at all by the economic implications of Covid-19 and another 30% are cautious but not feeling the pinch
  • Only 4% say that they have been hard hit economically
  • 55% expect that travel will return to a version of ‘normal’ in 2021
  • 81% are keen to travel again, of which 36% don’t see any change at all in their plans

The survey findings also identify four emerging categories of older travellers:

  • The stay-at-home Nesters
  • The cautious Belt & Bracers
  • The optimistic Believers
  • The get-out-there Avengers

LinkedIn: Workforce confidence survey

LinkedIn has published a survey of workers and those working in recreation and travel feel less confident than most about their job security, finances and career opportunities.

Those working in construction and healthcare currently feel more confident than people in other industries in the UK.

The latest survey results, based on a poll of 2,154 UK members over the weeks of 1-7 and 13-19 April, show how workers feel about their ability to get and keep a job, to improve their financial situation and to advance in their careers. The index gives a score ranging from -100 to 100, and the latest data shows that the construction industry had a score of 24 and healthcare had a score of 21. At the other end of the scale, two industries dipped into the negative, with a score of -1 for recreation and travel and -2 for media and communications.

The poll also asked respondents how they think their companies will fare six months from now, and the scores were negative across the board, with professionals in all industries believing their firms will be worse off by October. Looking longer term, those in the software and IT services sector are the most optimistic about how their firms will fare two years from now.

 

… And Finally

Dining on Michelin Starred Takeaways

Chef Alain Ducasse, who has been awarded 17 Michelin stars in his career is providing take-outs for Parisians starved of their usual gourmet offerings. Similarly, Jean Sulpice, of the Auberge du Père Bise, Lake Annecy is doing the same. Usually, the eight-stage menu costs €235, now a three-course takeaway for €35 is available.