The travel industry has had a torrid 12 months, with the airline industry, tourist destinations across the world and all the secondary economies that serer them severely impacted by the COVID virus, that shut down the travel industry in an unprecedented manner.
Aside from a stop-start late summer, travel from the UK has been badly affected, with holiday booking down by over 75% for many companies last year, and the industry is not looking forward to another summer of the same – with ‘traffic light’ restrictions proposed by a government that has seemingly long since given up on trying to provide travellers or travel agents with any clarity.
With a new set of rules set to be announced on May 7th, ahead of a further easing of travel restrictions on May 17th, the industry finally has something to be hopeful about, and travel businesses are gearing up for the next chapter, and hopefully a resumption of travel at normal levels – though even EasyJet and Ryanair are predicting passenger numbers well down on 2019, and possibly even the annus miserabilis 2020.
The main hope of the travel industry is that the vaccine roll-out continues apace. In the USA over 86 million people have had their first vaccination, which is enough to take the chance of serious illness from COVID down by as much as 70%. For some, including the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, only one injection is needed, whilst for the most prevalent once – The Oxford / AstraZeneca and Pfizer ones – a second injection is needed within 12 weeks of the first. This gives a 90% chance that the patient will generate enough antibodies to repel the COVID virus without getting seriously ill, or hospitalised.
With the virus in full swing, it was understandable that customers shied away from making expensive travel plans that that are often uninsurable, but with the rise in vaccinations, travel firms like PlainSailing.com are reporting surging sales, with much more pent up demand to follow as and when the vaccine programme is completed.
According to the Travel Agents Union, bookings for holidays in June and July have slowly been growing, but it is the late-August and September months that have seen the most action – with customers seemingly still unwilling to book in what could be a confusing early season, but predicting that this will be alleviated by thetime the School Summer holidays come round.
There is still some pain and intricaies to be sorted, with the proposed traffic light system requiring travellers even to ‘Green’ countries to take a PCR test at the start and the end of their holiday – even if they have been vaccinated. At an average of £120 per test, it could add as much as £960 to the cost of a holiday for a family of 4.
Whilst Travel Minister Grant Shapps is keen to get the prices down, it’s thought that any savings will come too late in the day to save much travel in May and June.
Interesting Related Article: “The Effect of COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution on Global Businesses“