Upbeat note sounded by Biden, poll showing Brits feeling safer about travel, buoy industry. Here are some UK market notes.
● Here we were—slip-sliding along toward a depressing third-quarter for 2021 and no news on the horizon when U.S. President of United States Joe Biden told us late last week during a White House meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that information on the timing for lifting international travel bans could come “within the next several days.” (A ban on non-essential travel to the United States from overseas was put into place in March 2020 as the crisis wrought by the COVID-19 virus shut down travel globally.)
Biden’s remarks were well-received at the U.S. Travel Association, the travel and tourism industry’s chief lobbyist. Tori Emerson Barnes, the organization’s executive vice president of public affairs and policy said: “We welcome the president’s remark, delivered today with German chancellor Angela Merkel, that more information on the timing for lifting international travel bans could come ‘within the next several days.”
● Meanwhile, for the first time in six months, people feel it is safer to travel abroad.
—Results of a poll 2,000 people in Europe* by the Copenhagen-based DFDS shipping and logistics firm best known for its ferry service showed a third of them now think they will travel within the next three months. (The UK is the largest overseas source market for inbound travel to the U.S. Germany, which was next closest to the UK results in terms of optimism with a similar pattern of results over the last few months, is Number 6.)
—The majority in the UK plan on booking this month, possibly reflecting ongoing uncertainty about which countries will be on amber and green lists for permitted travel and quarantine.
—15 percent of UK respondents said that they have already booked travel, while 25 percent of Germans had done so.
—August and September are also popular choices for booking months across the countries.
—Fewer than 20 percent of respondents in most countries who were surveyed say they will book earlier now than they would have previously.
—More than 45 percent in each country say they will book closer to the departure date, with the rest saying Covid-19 has not changed how early or late they plan on booking their holiday.
—Those who feel optimistic heavily outweigh those who feel pessimistic and the majority feel the same or optimistic regarding their household finances.
—Most respondents think it will take at least a year for life to return to normal with some 40 percent of UK customers indicating that it will take more than a year.
—The majority of UK respondents were more than 55 years old: 29 percent for those aged 55-64 years and 36 percent of those aged 65-74 years.
* The survey was sent to DFDS customers in the UK, Netherlands, Denmark, France, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Germany, Sweden and Norway. The ferry company has been carrying out a travel intention tracker each month across the ten European countries since last November to follow the development of its customers’ desire to travel and their plans for traveling now and in the future.
It should be noted that the UK has in place a “traffic light” system (difficult for many to understand) that labels countries as red, green or amber. Those from red nations face extremely difficult restrictions, while people from amber nations face restrictions, but not as serious as those for red nation residents. Travelers from green nations face even fewer restrictions.
● Travel Agent “Truth Squad” tells Companies to Stop Using Inflated Figures—It Hurts the Cause. TARGET (Travel Agent Reform Group Engaged Together), a travel industry group that has been at the forefront of efforts to secure government help and understanding, wants travel companies to stop talking unsubstantiated increases in bookings and says members have threatened to put repeat offenders on stop-sell.
Perhaps part bluster, perhaps part boosterism, a fair number of companies have told the news media that they are experiencing a surge in bookings since changes to quarantine rules were announced—changes that, in effect, relax the rules—with some giving percentage increases but no actual figures.
Jill Waite, TARGET’s co-founder, said: “It is so annoying to see figures of four-to-five hundred percent increases in bookings,” adding, “these statements will destroy our chances of getting more financial support from the Government, who will think that everything is now fine.”
“We all know that is not the case and targeted sector specific support is still needed to get us all through to next year,” noted Waite. “So many people in the travel industry have worked so hard to contact their Members of Parliament and the media to get the message across as to why travel needs sector specific support. This opportunist statements by travel companies are irresponsible and selfish.”
Underscoring Waite, TARGET Co-Founder Graeme Brett said: “The Government seems to think that these changes to quarantine are enough to save the travel industry and the false bookings claims support them.”
“They are totally wrong. We need an independent survey of customers to present to Government to prove that there is still a substantial resistance from customers to travel.
● Just remember this: Even if Freedom Day (July 19th) removed shutdown requirements and related regulations, and included a recommendation that more people work from home, airline passengers are still required to wear face masks at airports and on flights. The same requirement remains in effect across the pond in the United States. The mandate requires passengers on public transportation to wear a mask at all times, including while in airports and during flight – whether that flight is 50 minutes or five hours. The federal mask requirement is scheduled to expires on Sept. 13. The mandate requires passengers on public transportation to wear a mask at all times, including while in airports and during flight – whether that flight is 50 minutes or five hours.