More than a third of TTG Travel Agent Tracker respondents have cited travel restrictions as the greatest issue now facing their businesses, with more than 20 respondents to the latest Tracker survey – nearly a fifth – directly referencing Spain in their comments.
While the latest Tracker survey (Week 16) covered trading in the week to Friday 24 July, TTG left responses open until Wednesday morning (29 July) to give agents and homeworkers, who found themselves caught up in the fallout from the government’s decision on Saturday evening (25 July) to revoke Spain’s travel corridor, time to respond.
"Some confidence was coming back, only to be hit by the Spanish restrictions," said one respondent. Another added: "We need stability. It’s too confusing, and impossible to offer advice to clients.”
Others decried "the conflicting and inconsistent advice" from the government. “Clients fear committing to new sales with ever-changing policies," said one agent respondent. More than 20 respondents added in their responses that consumer confidence was the biggest issue facing their businesses.
With the impact of the government’s decision to revoke Spain’s travel corridor, and the Foreign Office advisory against all but essential travel to Spain, unlikely to become apparent until next week, respondents reported business was continuing to rebound in Week 16.
Some 85% of respondents said they took new holiday enquiries last week, down just two percentage points on Week 15, while 57% said enquiries were up on the previous week – a week-on-week increase of 11 percentage points.
For the first time since the Tracker was launched in early April, more than two-thirds (68%) of respondents took new bookings or made new sales during Week 16 – up six percentage points. Nearly half of all respondents (46.5%) also said sales were up week-on-week.
The rate of respondents reporting no bookings, meanwhile, has fallen to its lowest level in the Tracker’s history, just 20.5% (down 5.5 percentage points week-on-week). “Enquiries and bookings are starting to pick up," said one agent. "Departures in the near future are proving risky due to cancellations and Europe being so expensive, but towards the end of the year and into next is stronger.”
Nearly half of all respondents (47%) converted a summer 2020 enquiry last week, up 15 percentage points from 32% just a fortnight ago when the UK’s first travel corridors came into effect and we saw the first images and footage of people heading on holiday this summer.
Spring and summer 2021 collectively continue to prove the most popular booking window, with fewer people overall seemingly ready to commit to travelling this summer.
In terms of destinations, more than half of all Tracker respondents (53%) made a European (Mediterranean) booking last week and a quarter (25%) a European (non-Med booking) making Europe, by far, the most commonly booked destination.
Demand for domestic (UK and Ireland) breaks continues to increase, with 24% of respondents reporting such bookings – up 2.5 percentage points week-on-week. However, a number of respondents suggested in their comments UK capacity for summer 2020 was running low and proving difficult to book.
While Tracker respondents continue to flag difficulties getting hold of suppliers, they reported contact from a record number of different suppliers last week – 98 in total.
Jet2holidays was the most commonly cited (43), followed by Travel 2 (11) and Gold Medal (10). Intrepid Travel was also referenced 10 times owing to its efforts to drive the UK’s first National Travel Agent Day on Friday (24 July).