A holiday survey carried out by TUI amongst UK travellers says that they put Spain and Greece as their favourite summer holiday destinations, but there’s a massive catch.
THE travel giant says that over half of those questioned are putting aside any thought of a summer trip this year and are now looking forward to 2021.
The coronavirus pandemic has ravaged the travel and air flight industries, with a number of European countries like Greece and Spain announcing plans to bring back international tourism from July.
The problem is which countries will be allowed clearance to fly into them due to their infection rates, and also what kind of services will be provided by budget air carriers.
There is also the issue of how long the UK plans to keep its air quarantine measures going for visitors arriving back in the country.
Ryanair announced early in May that they were going to introduce a schedule from the start of July which amounts to around 40 per cent of what they would normally run at the beginning of the high summer season.
Their website started to advertise those flights last week, and in keeping with the TUI survey, it appears that the Irish air carrier might have got the level of demand for travellers about right.
Boss Michael O’Leary suggested that he expected the routes to be around 50 per cent full, so even though the doors might be wide open to traditional holiday markets in Spain like the Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca, there may well be a lot of reluctance for people to make bookings so soon.
easyJet are reintroducing mainly domestic-based routes in mid-June and have made no announcements over what they are planning to offer at the same time that Ryanair are to boost their flights a few weeks later.
Both companies have announced substantial job losses in the wake of the economic crisis caused to air travel by the coronavirus pandemic.
Another factor in customers choosing to hold back for this year is getting exact clarification as to whether they would be allowed to visit a particular country.
Greece was very much ahead of the pack by announcing international tourist services resuming in mid-June to mainland centres of Athens and Thessaloniki.
Island services to popular holiday magnets like Corfu, Crete, and Rhodes are expected to return from July 1.
The issue though concerns letting tourists in from countries with high infection rates like the UK, Spain, and Italy.
The Greek government did not put those territories on their first approved list for mid-June arrivals, though that did feature the important German market.
In other words, UK travellers are not going to be expected to start booking for Greece, until they know that they will be allowed in, and that could still be a few weeks away, as the season continues to move on at a pace.
There are some fears that Spain might follow suit despite pledges of no quarantining for arrivals from July.
Like with Greece, they make be holding back until the picture becomes clearer, along with the matter of 14-day British quarantine rules being introduced shortly for arrivals in the country.
The UK travel industry and air carriers have branded the quarantine measures as a serious block in getting holidays going again, and there has been recent speculation that Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, might ‘quietly’ drop the plans that were confirmed last weekend by Home Secretary, Priti Patel.
All these points, combined with a natural fear of long distance travel under the current health circumstances, mean that an earth-shattering European holiday travel spike in numbers once July 1 arrives is extremely unlikely.
As the TUI survey indicates, a lot of eyes are already turning towards next summer, and with tourists preferring to keep hold of their money because of all the uncertainty, it may be quite some time before there’s a return of the high UK number going for European summer holidays abroad.