LOTUS CORONAVIRUS UPDATE (11.12)
CANARY ISLANDS REMOVED, SAUDI ARABIA AND BOTSWANA ADDED
On Thursday 10 December, the UK Government announced that arrivals coming back from the Canary Islands would have to self-isolate from Saturday 12 December, 4 am.
At the same time the Government added Botswana and Saudi Arabia to the UK travel corridor list.
The Government’s removal of the travel corridor to the Canary Islands effectively stifles the only mainstream winter sun destination left open to Brits and has led to widespread industry condemnation. In addition, operators are waiting to see if Foreign Office travel advice changes as expected in line with the new measures.
Programmes to the islands will have to be cancelled if the FCDO advises against all but essential travel as most insurance policies will be invalid.
TUI said on Thursday that holidays are currently operating as planned; they will contact customers if their holidays are affected and those due to travel from Friday 11 December up to and including Thursday 17 December have the option to amend for free to any holiday that’s currently on sale.
Under the UK government’s new ‘test and release’ scheme people will be able to take a COVID test after their fifth day of quarantine and no longer need to self-isolate if negative, against current 14-day quarantine restrictions for countries without travel corridors, but they will have to pay privately for these tests.
While COVID-19 case numbers in Tenerife are high at 96.1 cases per 100,000 over seven days, the rest of the Canaries have relatively low case numbers – all below 50 per 100,000.
This week UK airlines, travel agents and operators have joined forces to call on the government to urgently revise its approach to foreign travel advice, "which risks preventing the industry getting back on its feet and holidaymakers back in the air", reports TTG.
Despite the new test and release scheme, which allows for reduced quarantine measures for international arrivals, the collective said that the numbers of people travelling overseas is unlikely to significantly increase as the Foreign Office (FCDO) advises against all but essential travel to the vast majority of countries and there are concerns that the current approach is being used to control the pandemic in the UK as opposed to its actual purpose, which is to assess the risk to travellers in-destination.
In particular, they have asked the government to urgently review its travel advice to allow for travel to countries where infection rates are comparable to, or lower than, the UK and have developed public health responses to the pandemic.
QUARANTINE SHORTENED TO 10 DAYS
On Friday 11 December, a statement from the four UK chief medical officers confirmed that the quarantine period for those returning from countries deemed ‘high-risk’ will be shortened from 14 to 10 days. The change will come into effect from Monday and also applies to those that are in self-isolation having been in contact with someone with a positive COVID test.
According to the statement: “People who return from countries which are not on the travel corridor list should self-isolate for 10 days instead of 14 days.”
PERFECT STORM OF BREXIT & COVID RESTRICTIONS
A story in The Financial Times on Thursday 10 December outlined the impact of EU COVID travel restrictions together with the end of the Brexit transition process and drew a conclusion that most Britons would be barred from visiting the EU from 1 January 2021.
The piece also sited un-named EU officials saying that there was no proposal to add the UK to the list of ‘safe nations’.
In reaction, UK travel trade bodies moved to dampen fears that popular business and holiday destinations would impose such restrictions on UK visitors – and urged the Government to agree a trade deal with the EU.
In its newsletter to members, ETOA summarised the situation:
From 16 March the EU recommended to member states a temporary restriction on non-essential travel from non-EU countries to the EU+ (included 4 non-EU Schengen associated countries). Due to the Brexit transition period during 2020, the UK has been treated the same as a member of the EU and thus exempt from this recommendation which was subsequently extended in April and May. From 1 July, the EU recommended that restrictions be removed for some third countries and this list is reviewed every 2 weeks (latest list can be seen on the Re-Open EU map). Not all EU member states are adopting this recommendation relaxing restrictions to non-EU countries and final decision on border entry remains a matter of national competence.
From 1 January, UK nationals will no longer be treated in the same way as an EU member and therefore are subject to the EU review every 2 weeks alongside other non-EU countries. The EU recommend exemptions to the restrictions, namely UK nationals resident in the EU, workers, students and passengers in transit. Travel for tourism purposes is not considered. EU member states can still decide to admit UK nationals if not on the EU recommended list, but there is growing pressure among Schengen states to adopt the same criteria in the Schengen area (where there are no internal border controls). Of the EU27 member states, the only EU member state not applying Schengen rules at their border for non-EU nationals is Ireland.
From 1 January, UK nationals will be subject to third country rules (i.e. passport validity, additional checks) when entering the Schengen area and not be entitled to use EU/EEA/CH entry lanes (includes UK nationals resident in the EU). UK passports with EU symbol remain valid travel documents until their expiry. Further information can be found here and on ETOA’s border process grid for visitors.
Travel between Ireland and the UK will continue the same as prior to Brexit due to the Common Travel Area.
An ABTA spokesperson said: “The EU has sought to adopt a common approach to travel restrictions, but this is only a recommendation and individual countries are able to implement their own measures, including options like travel corridors and testing.”
Gloria Guevara, president and chief executive of the World Travel & Tourism Council, said: “It is vital for countries to work together to enable seamless travel throughout the pandemic – and beyond.
“With lower infection rates than much of the EU, there are compelling reasons why the UK should be added to the EU’s ‘safe travel’ list, to enable international travel to continue. British travellers are a major contributor to European economies, and vice versa. UK visitor numbers make up the biggest proportion of inbound travellers to many major EU countries, such as Spain, Portugal and Cyprus.
She added: “Suffocating international travel is counterproductive and benefits no one. We should be building stronger ties to support mutual economic growth and more opportunities for the already struggling travel and tourism sector, which has been hammered by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
DEAL OR NO DEAL
The UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, made a statement on Thursday 10 December that said that there is a "strong possibility" the UK will fail to strike a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU.
Sunday 13 December has been agreed as a deadline for renewed efforts on negotiations but both sides seem willing to allow the process to go beyond that if progress has been made, reports the BBC.
Disagreements still remain on fishing, competition regulations and governance of a final deal. It is widely believed that 700,000 jobs in the EU, 22,000 jobs in the UK and 91,000 jobs in China are at risk from a no-deal scenario. Without a deal, UK goods to Europe will become more expensive as tariffs will be imposed, accountant giant EY said that four in five companies are not yet prepared for Brexit.
Consumer media titles have variously provided details of what travellers need to do with regards to travel. These include:
- Ensure there is six months validity on a passport
- Ensure adequate health insurance is taken out as an EHIC will not be valid from 1 January 2021
- Ensure visits aren’t over 90 days in a 180 day period
- Apply for an international driving permit
- Keep vigilant on roaming charges. Free mobile-phone roaming will no longer be guaranteed throughout the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway after 31 December.
- Travelling with pets will differ, but it is unclear exactly what the regulations will be. Contact vets four months ahead of travel to ensure a smooth ride for a pooch.
The pound dropped by as much as 1.6 per cent against the dollar at one point this week as apprehension over Brexit continued.
CONTINGENCY MEASURES TO ENSURE WE KEEP FLYING
This week, the European Commission released a set of targeted contingency measures designed to ensure basic reciprocal air and road connectivity between the EU and the UK in the event of a no deal Brexit.
The aim of these contingency measures is, the commission said, to cater for the period during which there is no agreement in place.
If no agreement enters into application, they will end after a fixed period.
The commission said it was putting forward four contingency measures to mitigate some of the significant disruptions that will occur on 1 January 2021 in the event of a no-deal.
- Basic air connectivity: A proposal for a regulation to ensure the provision of certain air services between the UK and the EU for six months, provided the UK ensures the same.
- Aviation safety: A proposal for a regulation ensuring that various safety certificates for products can continue to be used in EU aircraft without disruption, thereby avoiding the grounding of EU aircraft.
- Basic road connectivity: A proposal for a regulation covering basic connectivity with regard to both road freight, and road passenger transport for six months, provided the UK assures the same to EU hauliers.
- Fisheries: A proposal for a regulation to create the appropriate legal framework until December 2021, or until a fisheries agreement with the UK has been concluded – whichever date is earlier – for continued reciprocal access by EU and UK vessels to each other’s waters after December. In order to guarantee the sustainability of fisheries and in light of the importance of fisheries for the economic livelihood of many communities, it is necessary to facilitate the procedures of authorisation of fishing vessels.
The UK and Swiss governments have agreed a deal that will allow British business travellers to continue travelling freely to the Alpine nation after the Brexit transition period ends on 31 December.
VACCINES & TESTING
This week, the UK’s Vaccine Taskforce Chief Kate Bingham and UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock both predicted a more normal summer with the prospect of summer holidays in 2021.
On BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, Kate Bingham said travellers would be “in a much better place to get on planes” next year, while Matt Hancock said he was looking forward to a “bright” summer.
Hancock said: “We think that, from the spring, things can start getting back to normal and, because we’ve been able to get this vaccination programme going sooner than anywhere else in the world, we’ll be able to bring that date forward.”
Ms Bingham said: “It is likely that those people most at risk will be vaccinated through to April, and then the [Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation] and the Department for Health will then consider how to broaden out the vaccinations to other adults. I think by the summer we should be in a much better place to get on planes.”
However, she cautioned: “I don’t think we’re going to get away from this virus ever, so we’re going to have to maintain sensible hygiene and washing hands, and so on. I would like this vaccine to be as routine as an annual flu jab and that we manage it rather than get bowed down by it.”
VACCINE BOUNCE FOR TRAVEL TRADE
The trade experienced week-on-week sales growth, reports Travel Weekly, thanks to vaccine news with spikes in demand reported for December 2020, and for 2021 and 2022, particularly for high-value cruise holidays and bucket-list experiences as clients plan ahead, but also for last-minute festive getaways.
TEST TO RELEASE SCHEME DELAY
The industry is unlikely to “hit the ground running” at the launch of the ‘test to release’ scheme for arrivals in England from 15 December, reports Travel Weekly. The government has had a delay in publishing a list of approved test providers and this means costs are unclear and some of the preparations are on hold.
The government has specified tests must have a sensitivity of 97%, which currently means only lab-based PCR tests, which typically cost £120. The government has not participated in Heathrow trials or trials on transatlantic flights.
NEW EUROPEAN COVID TESTING AND QUARANTINE GUIDELINES
New European guidelines for COVID testing and quarantine for air passengers have been published by the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
The European Travel Commission has called for the guidelines to be used in order for travel restrictions to be lifted, reports Travel Weekly. The guidelines also confirm that air travellers account for less than 1% of all detected cases of the virus.
The ETC has consistently called for a common and risk-based approach to restarting European tourism in a safe manner, given the importance of travel and tourism on the path to economic recovery in the region.
INTERNATIONAL AIR TRAVEL CURBS ‘OF LITTLE USE’ AGAINST COVID-19
The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine has published a study showing that travel restrictions were largely ineffective in countries where the virus was already prevalent, reports The Times. The research concluded that restrictions such as compulsory periods of quarantine and the complete closure of borders should “not be applied uniformly”. They said that the measures could be effective in the early stages of the pandemic or when the virus had been suppressed to low levels, citing the successful use of such tactics in New Zealand, but that putting them in place when the spread of COVID-19 was high often had little benefit.
Academics drew up estimates based on expected international passenger numbers in September and found that restrictions would have been effective in controlling the virus in only 37 out of 162 countries. In other countries the impact of international travel on the spread of the virus would have been “usually small”.
DELTA AND KLM
Delta Air Lines and transatlantic partner KLM are to trial ‘Covid-tested’ flights between Atlanta and Amsterdam during the week commencing 14 December.
TESTING MORE IMPORTANT THAN VACCINES IN SHORT-TERM
In a Barclays Travel State of the Nation webcast, Martin Alcock, Travel Trade Consultancy director said: “In the short term testing is more important [to demand] and more likely to move the dial [than vaccination]” due to the logistics of rolling out the vaccination at speed. An added danger is that the government will put all the effort into vaccination and pull back on investment in testing.
PEAK BOOKING PERIOD ACROSS 2021
January’s peaks will be spread throughout 2021, new research from PWC with TTG has predicted. While only 6% of consumers saying they plan to book during the traditional post-Christmas period, there was evidence of strong pent-up demand.
David Trunkfield, PwC’s hospitality and leisure lead, said there was cause for optimism. The poll found 40% of consumers were undecided if they will take a summer holiday next year but only 18% said they would not. “That suggests quite a lot of pent-up demand.”
However, the research found only 15% planned to book between January and April. “There is pent-up demand, whether the traditional peak period will be too early is the question,” Trunkfield said.
More than £1 billion in COVID-19 disruption refunds has been paid by Jet2.com and Jet2holidays to customers since the start of the pandemic in March.
Chief executive Steve Heapy said: “Our guiding principle of putting customers first will not change for anything, including the pandemic, and the feedback we have received shows we have done the right thing throughout.”
Meanwhile, Wizz Air’s UK boss has said that tour operators and travel agents using low-cost airlines should not expect fares to be returned when packages have to be cancelled due to Foreign Office advisories, reports Travel Weekly.
UK managing director Owain Jones said COVID-related refunds issued to customers who had booked via the trade had been “more difficult” than those issued to direct customers.
He hailed his company’s “industry-leading” refund processing speed to direct customers.
London is home to the highest rate of COVID-19 cases in England, according to the latest weekly surveillance report from Public Health England and faces Tier 3 restrictions in the government review on 16 December.
Wales faces a new lockdown as COVID cases hit record highs.
All 11 areas living under Scotland's toughest level four coronavirus restrictions are to be downgraded to level three. The move means that non-essential shops and many other businesses across those areas will reopen from Friday 11 December. More than two million people have been subject to the level four restrictions since 20 November. Infection rates in all 11 council areas have fallen since then.
The Scottish government will lift travel restrictions on most of the Republic of Ireland later today, allowing non-essential travel to all areas barring County Donegal in the northwest.
Spain’s rate of confirmed coronavirus cases fell to 193 cases per 100,000 people on Wednesday 8 December to reach the lowest level recorded since August, health ministry data showed.
Malaga has been awarded co-winner of the 2020 European Capital of Smart Tourism competition for its strategic plan for tourism and citizens to sustainably manage the tourism infrastructure while also plan for recovery from COVID-19.
Spanning electric mobility, water conservation, renewable energy generation and tourism apps, the plan also includes a website with data and up-to-date information on safe solutions for travelling around and visiting the city.
Tenerife has been put on an emergency 11pm to 6am curfew amid fears that coronavirus cases are spreading too quickly.
The Canary Islands government says it will come into force on Saturday and last for one week.
In addition, for the next fortnight, social gatherings have been slashed to just four rather than six on the other islands.
All travellers arriving to Greece from abroad between Friday 18 December and Thursday 7 January 2021, will be required to self-isolate for 10 days, reports GTP, the Greek Government announced on Monday 7 December.
- Those who test positive for COVID-19 at Greece’s land borders will be denied entrance to the country, and
- Visits to the monasteries of Mount Athos are not allowed for those who do not live there permanently.
Italy has unveiled tough new restrictions for Christmas after recording the highest number of deaths since the pandemic began, reports Sky News. People are being urged not to invite any guests to their homes during the holidays amid fears it could lead to a further spike in new infections. Midnight mass on Christmas Eve is also being banned. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte added that movement between towns will also be forbidden on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day, and a curfew will be in force on New Years Eve.
Sweden will close its high schools for a month and students will take online classes after a spike of COVID-19 deaths and a rise in infections that are exceeding forecasts. Its Public Health Agency now predicts a peak in its second wave will be reached in mid-December.
The Times reports on Bavaria having imposed controls on the Austrian and Czech borders, whilst ordering people to stop leaving their homes without a “compelling” reason, with the healthcare system currently strained to its limits.
Germany’s partial lockdown since early November has slowed, but not stopped the disease spreading. Chancellor Angela Merkel has told colleagues that existing lockdown measures in place would not be sufficient to get the country through the winter.
Berlin’s mayor, Michael Müller, said he would seek the approval of the city’s parliament next Tuesday to close stores apart from supermarkets until 10 January, and also to extend the school break until that date or put lessons online for a week. He told the Berlin Senate yesterday afternoon there was ‘no other way’, adding: “The health of Berliners is more important than the shopping experience”.
Nearly half of Denmark’s 5.8m people, including those living in Copenhagen, have been placed under a partial lockdown.
France has imposed an 8pm curfew for the Christmas holidays but lifted its travel ban, after coronavirus cases remained twice the target level following a second lockdown. Jean Castex, the prime minister, also reversed an earlier promise to reopen cinemas, theatres, concert halls, museums and casinos next week, saying the decision was “especially painful to accept”.
The number of new coronavirus cases in the Netherlands has risen for the first time in several weeks.
REST OF THE WORLD
Manila, the main gateway to the Philippines, will remain under the general community quarantine (GCQ) for the entire month of December, reports Travel Daily.
Seven other provinces – Batangas, Iloilo City, Tacloban City, Lanao del Sur, Iligan, Davao City, and Davao del Norte – will be under GCQ until 31 December.
The states of Queensland and Western Australia have reopened their borders to the residents from New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria without the need for quarantine, reports Travel Daily.
The Japanese government is re-considering lifting travel restrictions for international tourists in the spring of 2021 as a trial for its planned full reopening in the summer in time for the delayed Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.
Japan is currently experiencing a “third wave” of COVID-19 outbreak with new clusters reported in Osaka and Hokkaido. The country has reported over 150,000 cases and more than 2,000 deaths.
California imposed some of the harshest coronavirus restrictions in the United States from Monday. The order bans private gatherings of any size, shuts all but critical infrastructure and retail operations, and requires everyone to wear a mask and maintain physical distancing.
South Africa has entered a second wave of the pandemic, the health minister declared this week.
The UK economy grew by 0.4% in October as the recovery continued to slow in the face of tougher coronavirus restrictions, reports the BBC. October was the sixth consecutive month of growth for the UK after the economy contracted by a record 19.5% in April amid the first lockdown. But output is expected to shrink again in November after England's second shutdown forced businesses to close. However, the chief executive and chairman of recruitment company and jobs giant Reed predicts the UK will avoid a double-dip recession and GDP will power ahead in 2021.
Official forecasts predict the UK economy will shrink by 11.3% this year - the biggest decline in 300 years.
Bank of England chief economist Andy Haldane has revealed that Britons amassed around £100bn in ‘excess savings’ during lockdown. He said curbs on non-essential shopping and the hospitality sector resulted in a ‘pent-up demand’ that was now being unleashed. The household saving ratio rose to an all-time high of 29.1pc in the second quarter, up from 9.6pc in the first quarter, and Haldane said there will be ‘some catch-up in social spending’.
Confidence among UK business leaders has grown to its highest level since March on hopes that COVID-19 vaccines will aid recovery, according to a poll by the Institute of Directors. More than two thirds of company directors believe a mass vaccination programme will improve their organisation's prospects for next year with net optimism up 16 points. However, business chiefs are gloomy about the long-term prospects for the British economy, with 56% saying that they felt pessimistic about the future and only one in four upbeat about the economy next year.
UK companies are the most pessimistic in Europe about hiring in the first quarter of next year, with London’s jobs outlook hitting its lowest level on record as the hospitality industry is battered by coronavirus. According to the Manpower jobs survey, the overall jobs outlook for the UK for the first three months of next year improved by three points to minus six. It was the second increase since the record low of minus 12 for the third quarter.
The Evening Standard reports that Begbies Traynor has warned that there will be “a wave of business insolvencies” once furlough schemes end. Tens of thousands of firms will go under.
Europe’s coronavirus recovery has been marked down again as the region’s biggest economies struggle with the impact of fresh restrictions. The latest verdict on growth for the third quarter revealed a rebound of 12.5pc, against an estimate of 12.7pc in October. New curbs in response to rising infections are likely to push Europe into a double-dip recession in the current quarter.
The Times says that while the short to medium term provides a tough environment in which to trade thanks to ongoing disruption caused by COVID-19 restrictions, international markets have been buoyant as it looks towards a new economic cycle and ‘vaccine trade.’
GLOBAL GDP FORECASTS
The Global Economic Forecasts report from Euromonitor shows that the aggregate global GDP forecast for 2020 is a projected contraction of 4.7% (with a plausible range of 4.2–5.2% decline), followed by 5.1% growth in 2021 (with a plausible range of 3.5–6.5%).
Advanced economies for 2020 growth have improved on average by 1 percentage point, mainly due to faster economic recoveries in Q3 and a more relaxed attitude towards pandemic restrictions in the US.
In developing economies estimates have been downgraded by 0.7 percentage points, despite improving outlooks for Brazil and China. This reflects the much worse than expected effects of the pandemic in India.
GDP is expected to decline by 3.5–4.5% in 2020, followed by 1.7–4.7% growth in 2021.
The economic recovery heading into Q4 has been more V-shaped than expected, but US COVID-19 infections and deaths have increased substantially in October and November, exceeding first wave levels and causing major strains in the healthcare system, leading to some states to impose stronger restrictions.
China’s recovery has been faster than expected. Chinese real GDP growth is projected to increase by 1.4–2% in 2020 and by 6.5–8.5% in 2021 making China the only major economy with a positive economic growth forecast for 2020.
In November China and 14 other Asia Pacific countries including Japan, South Korea and Australia signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) free trade agreement, which consolidates and extends earlier tariff reductions between Asia-Pacific countries.
India’s GDP is likely to decline by around 10% in 2020, which is almost double compared to the August forecast. However, the recovery is expected to be greater than before, with around 9% growth in 2021 and 8.5% in 2022.
The Japanese economy is predicted to contract by around 5.8% in 2020 and is predicted to grow by 2.8% in 2021. In Q4, private consumption was strong due to government stimulus and exports rebounded. However, the country is currently undergoing a third wave of the virus.
The Eurozone economy is expected to contract by 8.5–10.3% in 2020, recovering by 3.5–6.5% in 2021. This outlook balances the significantly faster than expected economic recovery in Q3 with a much worse than expected second wave of the pandemic, leading to renewed lockdown measures in Q4 of 2020.
The lockdown 2.0 restrictions were less onerous than in the spring, but November economic activity at retail and leisure locations were down 66% down pre-pandemic levels in France, and Italy, 51% below pre-pandemic levels in Spain and 48% below pre-pandemic levels in Germany.
GDP is expected to decline by 5.5% in 2020. Full recovery is expected to occur in 2021 and growth is expected at 3%.
GDP is expected to decline by 6.5% in 2020 and growth for 2021 is expected to be at 3.2%.
Worsening infection rates in the US and in Europe have caused an increase in pessimism in economic recovery, but positive news from vaccine trials has buoyed the scenarios. The new Joe Biden presidency eliminates risks of a global trade war.
Norwegian Air filed for a form of bankruptcy protection in Norway on Tuesday 8 December, reports Travel Weekly.
The airline will now enter into a supplementary Norwegian reconstruction process “which enhances the outcome of the Irish process with a view to re-size its balance sheet”.
London Luton Airport (LLA) served 105,000 passengers last month, a drop of 90% compared to the same period last year, reports Travelmole.
Passenger numbers are expected to increase in December, although remain at an historic low.
Qantas has reported a significant spike in domestic bookings as borders begin to open around Australia and expected to climb further leading to the Christmas holidays.
With the reopening of domestic borders, the airline predicted the domestic capacity would be sitting at almost 70% of pre-COVID levels by December and rising to nearly 80% at the beginning of 2021. CEO Alan Joyce said the opening of the Queensland border with NSW and Victoria has seen 200,000 fares sold in the first three days. However, international travel is unlikely to start until at least the end of 2021 pending a vaccine.
- Heathrow Airport is in talks to start charging drivers £5 to drop off passengers.
The airport has announced the plans will be a Forecourt Access Charge (FAC), starting from the end of next year, reports The Sun.
It will apply to all drivers entering the terminals, excluding blue badge holders and emergency vehicles.
- Heathrow has said it will keep Terminal 4 closed until the end of next year as the pandemic continues to affect travel. The company said passenger numbers at the airport fell 88% in November "as travel restrictions and a second lockdown took their toll".
BA / SOUTHAMPTON
British Airways will operate up to 17 flights each weekend to 11 European locations from Southampton next summer, reports Travel Weekly.
ETIHAD AND DARTeC
Etihad Airways has become the first airline to join the £65 million Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre (DARTeC) consortium, which is due to open next year at Cranfield University, reports Travolution.
Researchers attached to DARTeC are working on a number of projects “to reimagine what airports and airlines look like post-COVID-19, and [are] driving forward innovations in digital airspace and airport infrastructure that will help the UK reach its target of net zero carbon emissions”.
Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O’Leary has forecast a strong post-COVID recovery, but accused rival carriers of wanting to keep aircraft on the ground next year to raise fares, reports Travel Weekly, from a Eurocontrol webcast. He said: “The legacy guys have taken out 10-20% of capacity…They want to come back with less capacity and higher prices. They want to keep planes on the ground next summer.”
O’Leary also spoke out as to whether the EU should extend the waiver of the rule on take-off and landing slots. The rule states that airlines should use slots 80% of the time or lose them, but due to COVID, this has been waived until March 2021. Major airlines are lobbying for it to be extended throughout the summer too. O’Leary argues that all prices – including for air traffic control charges and taxes – should be lowered to get people flying again.
TRAVEL COMPANIES UPDATE
Travel agents and tour operators have lost 90% of their business between February and October, according to data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS).
It is the service sector to have suffered the most from the COVID-19 pandemic, ranking below the creative arts and hospitality industries for monthly growth over the course of 2020 – both of which have benefited from government support packages.
While the Scottish parliament has pledged funds to help support travel firms in Scotland, the figures have prompted ABTA to renew calls for tailored financial aid across the entire country.
In annual financial results, Europe’s largest tour operator TUI reported:
- An annual loss of €3.1 billion due to COVID-19 restrictions from March
- Revenue for the year to 30 September fell by 58% from €18.9 billion to less than €8 billion
- More than 2 million customers took TUI holidays since operations re-started in mid-June
- Will operate 20% of usual capacity this winter as against 40% previously indicated as a result of increasing travel restrictions caused by the rising number of infections “and the associated later booking behaviour of some customers”. Winter bookings down 82%
- Will prepare to operate 80% capacity for summer 2021. Summer bookings ahead 19% but summer bookings overall are down 10% because of a slow down in November.
- There is considerable uncertainty in the short-term
- Immediate uplift in demand when destinations reopen with long-haul destinations such as Jamaica and St Lucia reporting load factors of over 90% on reopening
TUI said: “Tourism will remain a growth industry in the long term. As a safe and reliable form of travel, package tours in particular will play an important role in the resumption of travel.
“With strong holiday brands, differentiated products and broad-based distribution in the key European markets, TUI is well positioned to get back on track successfully after the pandemic.”
ON THE BEACH
Online Travel Agent On the Beach has reported total losses of £46 million for the year ended 30 September due to COVID-19 restrictions, reports Breaking Travel News. The UK-based tour operator saw profits of £19 million the previous year. Total revenue fell 76 per cent to £38 million.
Top Network Group
TOP Network Group has launched a talent sharing network with the aim of helping to keep travel industry staff in their jobs, reports Travel Weekly.
SCOTTISH TRAVEL AGENTS GRANTED £5 MILLION
Travel agents in Scotland have been granted £5 million by the Scottish government as part of a £185 million support package for businesses, reports Travel Weekly.
Tour operators and coach companies were handed £6 million as part of Holyrood’s scheme and visitor attractions are set to benefit to the tune of £1.5 million.
TREASURY TAX GRAB
Uber fares and Airbnb stays could cost 20 per cent more after the Treasury launched a review into VAT and the sharing economy, reports The Times.
The Treasury has issued a call for evidence amid concerns that growth in the platform apps could cost as much as £20 billion in lost tax revenue as activity shifts online.
Shares in Airbnb more than doubled, making the company the biggest ever to double its value on its first day of trading, when the company launched on the Nasdaq stock exchange on Thursday – a price that valued the short-term rentals company at close to $100bn, reports The Guardian.
More money has been raised in IPOs in 2020 than in any year since the financial crash, according to Dealogic, and this year may surpass the 2007 peak. Markets have surged to all-time highs amid monetary stimulus measures and the prospect of a coronavirus vaccine boosting the economic recovery.
Airbnb faced an existential crisis in the first half of the year as lockdowns meant travel plummeted, leading it to lay off a quarter of its staff. However, it has benefited from a rise in “staycations” as tourists travel to rural destinations and avoid the city centres where hotels are clustered.
The company made a profit in the third quarter of the year but has never turned an annual profit and has said it expects to suffer in the fourth quarter of the year amid new surges in coronavirus cases.
Airbnb takes a percentage of all bookings made on the website, from both landlords and guests, and has attempted to expand into other areas such as experiences. It had revenues of $4.8bn last year, and $2.6bn in the first nine months of 2020.
EventMB and Skift have launched 10 Trends that Shape Events in 2021, which outline the move to smaller live formats; experimentation with hybrid events that allow for greater inclusivity. Safety will come first, outdoor activities will come to the fore; alcohol at networking events will be reassessed and event technology platforms will further improve.
TRENDS & CUSTOMER SENTIMENT
Global Travel Profiles, a new YouGov research tool which tracks global consumer sentiment and attitudes every day across the largest travel and tourism markets, has published a new study based on a sample of almost 17,000 people overall across 25 countries has found:
- 29% do not plan to travel at all in the next year
- Three in ten (30%) are planning to travel abroad over the next 12 months
- 43% are considering a domestic holiday
- Brits are the most likely nationality in the world – alongside Singaporeans – to say travel restrictions are preventing them from travelling at the moment
- Two thirds (67%) of British people say that the current curbs are preventing them from taking trips
- 58% say that health concerns are doing the same
- These factors are ranked the other way around in most market around the world, with health concerns outweighing restrictions as a reason not to travel
- Generation Z are the most eager to travel soon, with 41% of respondents indicating that they would be confident to travel abroad this year
- Millennials also have a higher comfort level than the average ‘affluent’ when it comes to flying within their region this year (52%) or going on holiday within their country (66%).
- Younger generations are keen to travel again for the upcoming festive period or early 2021 as long as there are clear COVID-19 policies in hotels or with airlines.
BOOKING.COM LOOKING AHEAD
Predictions from Booking.com on 2021 based on research from 20,000 travellers across 28 countries and insights from Booking.com data show
- Tech will help consumers gain confidence to travel again, by helping consumers regain spontaneity, confidence as well as helping those who help themselves to travel safely and responsibly
- Workations. Remote work becoming a long-term reality and it’s looking promising for those who are able to travel as over half of global travellers (52%) said they would take the opportunity to extend any business trip so that they could schedule in some leisure time. Many are also likely to add a week or two to their holiday in order to work remotely.
- Value For Money
- Responsible Travel
- Seeking travel inspo
- Travellers expect new health and safety measures to be implemented to mitigate the chances of catching COVID.
The UK has a greater appetite for travel during the COVID-19 pandemic than other EU countries, according to a study by data specialist, Adara. Britons who were surveyed are the most resilient travellers, compared to other EU countries, now making up 23pc of all international bookings from EMEA. The study found that UK citizens can’t wait to escape lockdown Britain as travel hopes surged on vaccine news.
ABTA TRAVEL TRENDS
ABTA has released its Travel Trends Report for 2021.
The top overseas destinations people plan to visit in 2021 are:
- Spain (33%)
- France (19%)
- USA (17%)
- Italy (16%)
- Greece (14%)
- Portugal (9%)
- Germany (8%)
- Croatia (5%)
- Netherlands (4%)
- Australia (4%)
ABTA has identified six travel trends with two distinct types of traveller – those who are eager to return to old favourites and those who want to take a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ trip.
1. Embracing old favourites, close to home, Spain, Canaries, Balearics, Turkey, Greece, Italy and the Algarve
2. Others have spent lockdown planning the Next Big Trip to indulge their wanderlust with unforgettable experiences such as seeing the Northern Lights, diving and visiting Everest Base Camp.
3. A strong commitment to cruise holidays. 21% of those who have taken a cruise holiday before say they would do so again, in line with last year (22%), and rising to 31% of those over 65, up slightly on last year. While restrictions remain on cruising from the UK. Many have booked new cruises for 2022 and all cruise lines are investing in new health and safety protocols
There is a rise in interest for
4. The great outdoors. Getting back to nature in idyllic remote, rural hideaways are catching up with beach holidays and city breaks in the popularity stakes and coincides with the domestic holiday trends and a growing interest in walking and cycling holidays.
5. Responsible tourism. Consumer demand for responsible tourism has been steadily rising over the past decade, and has been consolidated during the pandemic.
6. Holidaymakers are seeking the reassurances that come with booking a package holiday and the expertise of a travel professional
LOTUS’ is uniquely placed to assist travel brands to exploit the opportunities of emerging trends with access to the only UK benchmarking survey for 100+ destinations. The UK Travel Intelligence Reports provides strategically representative consumer insight on destination perception, experience and awareness and data can be tailored to intelligently inform communication campaigns for 2021 and beyond. Contact Hollie@wearelotus.co.uk for further details.
LOTUS is a multi-award-winning PR, marketing and representation consultancy specialising in travel and tourism, working with destinations, travel associations, hotel groups, airlines, tour operators, transportation companies and other tourism related businesses.
In challenging times, working with an established and intelligent partner is key. Steering clients through this territory, LOTUS provides essential client counsel, industry insight, new commercial opportunities and flexible strategies.