As tourists return to Southern Europe, the holiday industry is recovering

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Tourism and leisure industry dynamics

The busy sky over Spain’s Balearic Islands brings good news for Southern Europe-after the catastrophic season of 2020, its tourism industry is on the road to recovery.

The number of 2.4 million air passengers to and from Mallorca in July surpassed the largest island chain double The figure for the same month of 2020, although still a drop of more than 40% from 2019 before the pandemic.

In the old town of Ciutadella on the neighboring island of Menorca, tourists wait in line at dozens of restaurants every night to enjoy local delicacies such as stuffed eggplant and lobster stew.

The influx of tourists is a huge relief for the islands twenty four% Due to coronavirus restrictions preventing holidaymakers from traveling, GDP fell last year.

“The situation is much better than we expected five months ago,” said Maria Frontera, head of the Mallorca Hotel Association, adding that about 90% of her members opened in August , Which is more than twice the amount in May.

Holidaymakers in Thessaloniki, Greece are feeling the economic dividends of the tourism recovery © Konstantinos Tsakalidis/Bloomberg

The tourism industry in Southern Europe is worried that it will fail for the second summer in a row. On the contrary, it avoids repeating the nightmare of 2020, even if there is still a long way to go back to pre-pandemic levels.

“2020 is a disaster,” said Pepe Díaz, who runs three hotels on Menorca. “But this year we have gone from a mediocre May to an extraordinary July-August. By 2022, we expect our hotels will do better than 2019.”

The combination is different from previous years.British tourists have Outnumbered People from France and Germany, even in Spain, are traditionally British favorites.The beach performs better than urban leisure venues, while the high-end market Recover stronger Than budget or home destination.

Overall, the millions of people who stayed at home last year traveled this summer because of extensive vaccinations and loose restrictions that have released suppressed savings and desire to go abroad.

“People either want to leave now or plan ahead for next summer, and they still want to be generous and treat themselves well,” said Alan French, CEO of Thomas Cook, who was in After closing down in 2019, it transformed into an online company. “Greece remains our most popular destination, followed by the Canary Islands, Balearic Islands and Mallorca.” He added that 80% of bookings are for Four-star and above accommodation.

In fact, luxury tourism is booming. The number of private jet passengers travelling to and from Mallorca in July increased by more than two-thirds compared to the same month in 2019, with an average of 83 private jets coming in and out every day. Pepe García-Aubert, who runs MB92, the world’s largest superyacht modification group, also said that it is almost impossible to rent a yacht now.

Mallorca rebound

2.4m

Air passengers in July, more than doubled in the same month of 2020

90%

Percentage of hotel association members that opened in August

83

The daily number of private jets arriving and departing Hong Kong in July

The unbalanced recovery turned into economic stimulus. Maria Jesús Fernández, an economist at the Spanish Savings Bank Foundation, said that a better-than-expected tourist season could increase the country’s overall growth this year by 0.2%, and she now forecasts about 6.5%.

Greece may feel more economic dividends, the country reported that the country’s GDP has increased by 3.4%. Second quarter And hope to do better in the third game, despite having to face a devastating blow Forest fire And the epidemic.

“In May, we said that if we can reach 40% of bookings in 2019, we will be very lucky. Based on today’s data and bookings in September, if there is no unexpected development of the pandemic, we will exceed 50%. Even 60%,” said Yannis Retsos, head of the Greek Tourism Federation.

According to data from the Island Hotel Association, in major destinations such as Corfu, hotel occupancy rates have been between 80% and 90%, and the charges are higher than in 2019. Data from Greece shows that the air traffic volume in Greece in August was about 90% of the level in the same month of 2019. European Control Agency It shows that although this year’s cumulative total is still far lower than two years ago.

But elsewhere, the economic benefits are far from overwhelming. A survey conducted by the French National Federation of Tourism Organizations shows that the situation in most parts of the mainland has improved.

“But this optimism must be influenced by the fact that the numbers are still declining in 2019,” it concluded. “The number of French customers is very large… does not fully compensate for the decline in the number of foreigners in most parts of France.”

Worries about the pandemic are also enduring.

The contagious nature of the Delta variant, coupled with the colder weather and returning to school, has raised concerns about the coming winter.

Philip Miesen, executive chairman of travel operator Jet2, added that the traffic light system used by the UK to determine whether travelers must be isolated on return has caused “persistent short-term uncertainty.” He added that customer bookings are “getting closer to the departure time”, which makes it more difficult for travel companies to measure demand. The system will be reviewed on October 1.

At the same time, bookings for next summer have begun, as consumers are betting on returning to a more normal holiday. Both Jet2 and Tui said that next year’s bookings exceeded the 2019 bookings.

But the holiday industry warns that because reservations are now easy to cancel and the pandemic is far from over, there is a growing need for more flexibility.

“The rules of the game have changed,” said Frontera of the Mallorca Hotels Association. “We need to find a balance-more sustainable tourism and value rather than quantity. Because in the short or medium term, the epidemic does not seem to go away.”

Additional reporting by Victor Mallet in Paris and Miles Johnson in Rome

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