Travel bookings increase despite the omicron but far from 2019 levels

The travel agency They view the final stretch of the year with moderate optimism but acknowledge that activity is far from pre-pandemic levels. The Corporate Association of Specialized Travel Agencies (Acave), the main employer in the sector, reported this Monday that the average of the bookings for the Constitution Bridge, Christmas and New Year’s Eve campaigns is around 10% more than in the same period last year. 57% of the association’s agencies assure that they are registering increases in activity above that threshold. The president of Acave, Martí Sarrate, assured that although the recovery is perceived, “the turnover of the companies will still be 50% below that of 2019 and compared to before the pandemic, 25% of the agencies of trip. If things don’t improve, they could close 15% more. ” The closure of some 2,500 tourist management offices during the last two years, somewhat less than what was feared, does not hide the increase in travel demand in the final stretch of the year, especially in proximity destinations. In trips abroad, agencies have perceived a strong demand for trips to New York. The prices of flights and hotels to this particular destination have multiplied since the opening of the US border to European travelers. “Recovery is far from optimal growth rates, so pre-pandemic levels will not be reached until 2023 or 2024,” Sarrate said.

Travel agencies have not registered cancellations due to the increase in mobility restrictions derived from the pandemic or the appearance of the variant of the omicron virus, according to data from Acave. Just a few reservations bound for Austria. For this employer it is important that health policy make clear decisions and avoid the current situation, in which each autonomous community is making different decisions to avoid the rise in covid infections.

Regarding the evolution of travel demand in the coming days, Sarrate acknowledges that the best indicator is that of the degree of flight occupancy, with clear indicators of price increases. Another factor that invites optimism is the Black Friday effect, for which promotions have appeared that had not been seen in previous years. Iberia’s flight schedule for 2022 tends to normalize and invites optimism, according to Sarrate. The president of Acave has criticized the Government’s proposal to reduce the number of people on guided tourist visits to 15 people (now it is 30). This proposal has not had the advice of professionals in the sector and is a sign, according to Sarrate, that “decisions are made by people who have no idea” and do not foresee the economic consequences that such a regulation may have. .

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On the debts contracted with the airlines for the cancellations of flights during the pandemic, which represented a hole of 400 million, Acave estimates that there are around 80 million to be collected. And that is not counting what is owed to individuals who, according to the employer, will have a very difficult time recovering what was paid on canceled flights.

National destinations account for approximately 20% of total bookings for this campaign and the Canary Islands have been the most popular destination for these dates, followed by Andalusia and cities such as Madrid or Barcelona. The cold and snowfalls suggest that the ski resorts will increase their reserves in the coming days and will be one of the star destinations of the next parties. Incoming agencies also predict an increase in foreign travelers who will visit Spain for these dates, who will come mainly from countries such as France, Benelux, Nordic countries and Portugal, which will be attracted by the quality / price ratio and the high vaccination rate.

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