Agents have been left to pick up the pieces after the government’s decision to revoke Spain’s travel corridor shattered consumer confidence.
Responses to TTG’s latest Travel Agent Tracker survey (Week 18, week to 7 August) painted a bleak picture of failing confidence in travel.
"Nobody has any faith in travel at the moment due to the constantly changing advice," said one respondent, while another added: “Holiday decision-making has stalled.”
Enquiries rallied during Week 18, with the rate of respondents reporting new enquiries recovering four percentage points (ppts) to 72%. The rate of respondents reporting enquiries being up week-on-week, meanwhile, increased five ppts to 29%.
However, enquiries are still massively down from a high of 87% less than a month ago in Week 14 (week to 10 July) ahead of the first Tui and Jet2holidays trips departing for the costas.
Worse still, bookings collapsed during Week 18 with the number of respondents reporting new sales or bookings down 13 ppts to 49.5%. This means less than half of all Tracker respondents made a new booking in the week to 7 August.
"In July, we sold around 90% of what we sold in July 2019. So far in August, we’re at 40% of last August," said one respondent. "It’s a massive drop, directly attributable to government policy on Spain and quarantine."
Another said: “Business started to pick up until the change in restrictions with Spain – enquiries I have followed up for Greece, Turkey and Croatia have said they don’t feel confident booking in case the government does exactly the same as they have with Spain."
Interest in European Mediterranean breaks has fallen away, down 11 ppts week-on-week from 60% of respondents reporting interest from clients in Week 17 to 49% in Week 18, although there was an encouraging eight ppt increase in reports of interest in European non-Med breaks.
It remains to be seen what the effect of the government’s decision to revoke France, the Netherlands and Malta’s travel corridors on Thursday (14 August) will have on holiday intent.
Interest in domestic (UK and Ireland) breaks though continue to defy any instability, with 36% of respondents reporting enquiries from clients – holding steady at the same rate as seen in out Week 17 Tracker data.
In fact, domestic bookings are now second only to those for European Med destinations; during Week 18, 33.5% of respondents reported taking a European Med booking (down 16 ppts week-on-week) and 29.5% a domestic booking (up 5.5 ppts week-on-week).
The rate of respondents reporting no bookings in Week 18 increased four ppts to 32.5%, up from a rate of just 20.5% in Week 16 (week to 31 July) highlighting the severity of the government’s decision to revoke Spain’s travel corridor.
Summer 2020 is no longer the most popular booking window either; respondents reporting summer 2021 bookings fell two ppts week-on-week to 36.5% while summer 2020 bookings fell 10 ppts to 30.5%.
Respondents cited contact from 96 suppliers in Week 18, up from 83 in Week 17 and just two shy of a Tracker record of 98 in Week 16; Jet2holidays led the way with 32, meaning it was referenced by more than a quarter of respondents, followed by Gold Medal with 11, Tui and If Only with nine, and Olympic Holidays with eight.