Suppliers in some key summer destinations have been overbooking for August as they don’t believe the British market will return.
Sunvil chairman Noel Josephides told the Aito general meeting in London on Wednesday (21 July) that some suppliers were not convinced UK tourists would be arriving later this summer after trips earlier this summer had to be axed due to travel restrictions.
“Suppliers say ‘we don’t believe you’re going to send anybody in August’, so they have been overbooking,” said Josephides, who is also Aito’s director of industry affairs.
“We make commitments on seats and accommodation, and we have more seats to sell. When the Balearics goes into amber and France to amber plus, it just destroys confidence if you’re operating in Europe.”
Josephides called for the UK government to adopt a policy of not changing the status of any amber list countries for the next few months.
“The government needs to say we will not retract any amber permissions – if you’re travelling to amber, it will be an amber destination until October. That would probably help a great deal,” argued Josephides.
The meeting heard repeatedly how the UK was now “lagging behind” Europe in opening up international travel, with MP Huw Merriman saying the country had “not properly accessed the vaccine dividend” and taken advantage of its high vaccination rates.
This was illustrated by research carried out by Travel Trade Consultancy showing that online travel searches have been soaring in several European markets, such as Germany and the Netherlands, compared with the UK.
TTC also asked more than 200 travel firms about their prospects, with 72% saying they expected bookings in the rest of 2021 to be less than 40% of 2019 sales.
While nearly half of companies (48%) said they were planning for 2022 bookings to be less than 60% of 2019’s total.
TTC director Matt Purser added: “We’re still well short of what we were looking at last year and nothing like 2019. We’re lagging behind Europe – their figures are ahead of last year.”
Several delegates said they had seen no business since the start of the pandemic last spring – mainly due to their destinations being on the red list or not currently allowing UK residents to visit because of high Covid rates.
Farzana Dobbs, from London-based agency Travel Gallery, described how the pandemic has changed the type of holidays they have been selling.
“We sold experiential holidays before but then they were doing fly and flop in the Maldives,” she said.
Dobbs added the “problem with UK holidays is it makes no money and you spend months chasing very small amounts of commission”.