TUI confident for European summer holidays
The world’s biggest holiday group said that increasing COVID-19 vaccination means Europe will reopen for travel, though ongoing restrictions and uncertainty have so far held back an expected surge in demand after winter lockdowns.
TUI, which took 23 million people on holiday annually before the pandemic, said it has a total of 2.6 million summer bookings, 69% lower than at this time in 2019.
The group said it was optimistic, however, given that new bookings had doubled since April and it expects more destinations to open in the next few weeks.
“We are now at the beginning of the expected restart. The anticipation is palpable, these are opportunities for tourism and for TUI,” Chief Executive Fritz Joussen said in a statement.
Travel companies and airlines across Europe will be buoyed by TUI’s optimism about the coming holiday season, having suffered huge losses during 14 months of restrictions.
Southern Europe economies are also desperate for holidaymakers to return. In Greece, tourism accounts for about a fifth of the economy and jobs market, while Spain used to derive a tenth of its gross domestic product from tourism.
Britain, which along with Germany is one of TUI’s two biggest markets, last week said that people could travel again from May 17, but its limited list of destinations not requiring passengers to quarantine on return, disappointed the travel industry.
Some of TUI’s most popular destinations, such as Spain and Greece, were kept off its green list of low-risk destinations, but the company said it expects this to change when the list is reviewed at the end of the month.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic struck Europe last February, TUI has required multiple bailouts from the German government to survive.
Reporting results for the six months to March 31, TUI said it had sunk to an EBIT loss of 1.3 billion euros ($1.58 billion) on revenue that contracted by 89% to 716 million euros.
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