Please refer to the below resources for current updates from U.S. health authorities, and travel destinations.
- Industry Guidance for Promoting the Health and Safety of All Travelers (U.S. Travel Association)
- Center for Disease Control
- Dept. of Homeland Security
- US Travel Association
- Brand USA
- Western Governors’ Association
RESOURCES BY STATE:
Rocky Mountain International is working closely with our overseas representatives to receive regular in-market updates on the current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts on the tourism industry. Refer to this page on a regular basis, as we’ll be posting updates here as they become available.
Watch the UK & Ireland market update here.
As of January 5 (via KBC PR)
Boost to travel industry as pre-departure tests and travel isolation scrapped in England
Pre-departure testing will no longer be required for travellers returning to England and arriving passengers will no longer have to isolate until they get a negative PCR test, the UK government confirmed on 5 January.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the House of Commons the pre-departure testing requirement, introduced a month ago, will be removed as the omicron variant is now so prevalent the measure is “having limited impact.” From 4 a.m. on Friday 7 January, people returning to England will not have to take pre-departure tests.
Johnson also announced that people arriving in England will no longer have to isolate until they get a negative PCR test, but will instead have to take a lateral flow test at the end of day two after arriving. Airline and travel industry bodies called for the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish governments to follow suit, although the devolved administrations are typically more cautious than the UK government.
Currently, fully vaccinated travellers into the UK must take a pre-departure test and self-isolate until they receive a negative result from a post-arrival PCR test. The measures acted as a dampener on international travel as they increased costs and logistical challenges for travellers. Those costs have now been removed as lateral flow tests are available free of charge in the UK.
Shai Weiss, chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, said the changes represented “welcome progress and a necessary step towards frictionless air travel for our customers.”
“Travellers can now book with confidence and look forward to reconnecting with loved ones and business colleagues,” he said. “Meanwhile, customer demand will be boosted in a critical booking window for the travel industry and vital testing capacity can be reallocated where it is needed the most – in hospitals, schools and crucial national infrastructure.”
“Plan B” continues for another three weeks
England’s current Plan B rules will carry on for another three weeks, Prime Minister Johnson has confirmed – with the current COVID measures to be reviewed again by 26 January.
The rules cannot be scrapped completely because hospital admissions are rising rapidly, the prime minister added. A record 3.7 million people in the UK had COVID in the week to New Year’s Eve – an extra 1 million more than the week before – according to estimates from the Office for National Statistics. This equates to 1 in 15 people in England, 1 in 20 people in Scotland and Wales, and 1 in 25 in Northern Ireland. The estimate was highest for London, where 1 in 10 people were believed to have COVID – although the ONS said there were some “early signs” cases were no longer increasing in the capital.
“We’re experiencing the fastest growth in COVID cases we’ve ever known,” Johnson said, citing the record 218,724 daily confirmed cases on Tuesday 4 January, although that included some delayed reporting from the Christmas/New Year holiday period.
Under England’s Plan B measures, people are told to continue working from home wherever they can, wear face coverings on public transport and in public places, and show their vaccination status to get into nightclubs and large events.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are in charge of their own COVID rules – and all brought in stricter measures after Christmas. In Scotland, pubs and bars are operating with table service only, and people are being asked to limit social contact to two other households, while in Wales gatherings are limited to six people in public premises, large events are not allowed and nightclubs are closed. In Northern Ireland, nightclubs are also closed and a maximum of six people are allowed at a table in hospitality venues.
Scotland has, however, cut its self-isolation period to seven days for people who record two negative lateral flow tests, which brings it in line with the rest of the UK.
Meanwhile, people who test positive with a lateral flow test do not need to order a follow-up PCR test if they do not have symptoms. Anyone who has symptoms will still need to take a PCR test regardless, and anyone who tests positive with any test must self-isolate. The change comes into force in England from 11 January, in Northern Ireland immediately and in Scotland and Wales from 6 January.
A look behind the UK’s omicron statistics (Source: BBC)
COVID infections have risen to unprecedented levels in recent weeks because of the omicron variant. But, as early evidence suggested it would, this variant is causing milder illness. A fall in the proportion of detected cases ending in hospitalization is a good sign of this; it is now five times lower than it was a year ago. This is largely thanks to a huge amount of immunity that has built up across the population either through vaccination or infection.
Hospital cases are still rising – the sheer weight of infections means while omicron is milder, patient numbers in hospitals have been going up. The total has doubled in just under a fortnight in England to more than 14,000. That, however, is still well under the 34,000 peak last winter when more than a third of beds were occupied by COVID patients. Rises are being seen elsewhere in the UK, although gaps in publishing data over the festive period make it hard to judge how quickly.
Hospital patients appear less sick – a hospital case this winter is not the same as one from earlier in the pandemic. For one thing, a growing proportion of hospital patients with COVID are actually being treated for something else, they just happen to have the virus too. Latest data, from last week, suggested a third of those admitted to a hospital in England were in this position. There have also been early reports that patients are not spending as long in hospitals and the numbers needing critical care have hardly changed. All this puts the UK’s National Health Service in a stronger position to cope.
Experts believe the omicron wave will come and go quickly – there are suggestions it has already peaked in London – with the extra immunity acquired meaning the population will be even better protected for the future.
Watch the Germany market update here.
As of June 7 (via Lieb Management)
Willingness to vaccinate rises sharply
More than 30 million people in Germany have already received a first Corona vaccination – and in the next few months, it is likely to be at least as many again. Since the start of the vaccination campaign in Germany almost five months ago, the willingness to be vaccinated has increased significantly. This is according to a YouGov questionnaire commissioned by the German press agency DPA. According to the survey, 74% of Germans over the age of 18 want to be immunized against the coronavirus. Shortly before the start of the vaccination campaign on 27 December, only 65% had decided to be vaccinated. At that time, 19% refused the immunization; now, that number is only 15%. The proportion of undecided people has dropped from 16% to 11% since the end of December.
Vaccination prioritization to be lifted as of 7 June
The prioritization for a Corona vaccination is to be dropped as of June 7, according to an announcement by Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn. The waiver applies to medical practices, company doctors and vaccination centers. This will further accelerate the vaccination campaign, he said, and will better reach those who previously did not have easy access to a vaccination appointment.
Relaxations for vaccinated and convalescent people come into force
The Federal Council has approved the relaxation of pandemic rules for people who have been vaccinated and those who have recovered from a corona infection. With the exception of the return from virus mutation areas, these groups do not have to quarantine after trips abroad. In the course of the ordinance passed by the Bundestag and by the Bundesrat, contact and exit restrictions for those who have been fully vaccinated and those who have recovered will no longer apply. For example, two unvaccinated people could meet with an unlimited number of vaccinated people in regions with high numbers of infections. People who have been vaccinated and those who have recovered are also treated equally with those who have tested negative. This means that they no longer have to take a test before visiting shops or the hairdresser, for example. The evening exit restrictions are also no longer applicable for both groups, nor is the quarantine obligation after returning from abroad – unless travelers have been infected with a virus variant that is not yet widespread in Germany or have arrived from a virus variant area. The obligation to wear masks and the distance rules still apply to vaccinated and convalescent people.
EU agrees on COVID-19 certificate
The EU Parliament and the EU member states have agreed on a COVID-19 certificate to prove corona vaccinations, tests and past COVID-19 infections. The aim of the digital document is to make traveling in the EU easier. It will probably be available toward the end of June.
Germany relaxes entry regulations
In view of falling Corona infection figures across Europe, the German government has removed a major hurdle to summer holidays abroad: With a decree in force since May 14, it lifted the general quarantine requirement for entry from more than 100 countries. Among them are some of the most popular holiday destinations for Germans, such as Spain, Italy, Greece, Austria and Switzerland. Anyone entering Germany from these countries can be exempted from quarantine by taking a negative Corona test (this test is obligatory for air travelers anyway). For those who have recovered and have been fully vaccinated against Corona, the relaxation goes even further. They only have to be quarantined if they come from an area with new virus variants. Vaccinated and recovered people who come to Germany from the approximately 190 other countries in the world also no longer have to be tested for Corona before or after entering the country. The regulation is the most far-reaching relaxation of entry regulations since Corona began spreading in Germany at the beginning of last year.
Federal emergency brake can expire
The “federal emergency brake” with uniform measures in case of high Corona infection numbers can expire at the end of June, in the view of Chancellor Angela Merkel. At the same time, the chancellor made it clear for the case of nationwide rising infection numbers again: “Should something develop through mutations, which we hope nothing will, then we can reactivate it at any time,” she cautioned. The uniform federal rules that came into force in April are limited in the Infection Protection Act until June 30 at the latest.
Sources: FVW, Bundesregierung.de, tagesschau.de
TOUR OPERATORS & AIRLINES
German Travel Association (DRV) wants to enforce “restart aid” at the beginning of 2022
The association’s list of demands is joined by the idea of granting tourism a one-time marketing and personnel cost subsidy for the months of January-March 2022 for 50% of the corresponding expenses of 2019. DRV’s leader is also optimistic for an extension of the bridging aid beyond the middle of the year.
Destination relaunches: Bookings rise for Greece and Canaries
Tour operators in Germany are seeing improving bookings for Greece and the Canary Islands as pandemic-related travel restrictions are eased for the popular beach holiday destinations and they re-open for international tourists. Germans are now starting to book summer holidays in greater numbers as more people are vaccinated against COVID-19, travel warnings and quarantine regulations are scaled back and more destinations ease international travel restrictions. In particular, holidaymakers returning from a risk area no longer automatically have to undergo a period of quarantine, which removes a major obstacle to demand.
German tour operators predict bookings boom due to COVID vaccination pass
Tour operators in Germany are optimistic about a quick pick-up in bookings once the EU’s COVID-19 “travel pass” comes into effect this month, and some are even forecasting a boom given the massive pent-up travel demand among consumers. Germans are now responding to the improving outlook for summer holidays and are starting to make bookings, news agency DPA reports. Traditional destinations such as Spain, Greece and Italy are in demand and prices are likely to be generally stable, according to tour operators.
“The vaccination campaign has picked up speed dramatically in Germany, and bookings are rising continuously,” a TUI spokesperson told the news agency. “Many people are booking longer trips as they have had to wait a very long time for their holiday. There is a trend to hotels in higher categories and larger rooms with a better location.”
Similarly, the country’s second-largest tour operator, DER Touristik, is seeing “a significant rise” in bookings at present.
“People want to travel and to do so as safely and as quickly as possible,” Central Europe Chief Ingo Burmester said. Holidays will remain low-priced this year, he added: “The very attractive price offers resulting from the very low demand at the beginning of the year are still available for trips in July in some cases.”
FTI Group Managing Director Ralph Schiller expects a travel boom as soon as restrictions are eased. “We can see how big the desire to travel is from the fact that demand for Mallorca and the Dominican Republic – destinations where there are no travel warnings at present – has increased strongly for trips in May and June 2021,” he pointed out. Schiller reported that customers are opting for up-market hotels and predicted “very stable” price trends for this summer. But he warned: “If the expected bookings boom for the main summer holiday period occurs, capacity could get tight and there may be rising prices in some areas.”
Opening euphoria clearly brightens the mood in travel agencies
Germany longs for a relaxation of corona and the summer. The optimism in the population is also rubbing off on travel agencies, shown by the tourism sales climate index by Dr. Fried & Partner for May. In the merry month, the mood at the counter changed, even if the current situation is still critical. “Although the current situation in travel sales continues to be extremely tense, the assessment of the current situation is improving noticeably,” concluded the market researchers. In addition, travel agencies are much more optimistic in May than in the previous month. For the first time, expectations for the next few months will reach a similar level as in 2018 and 2019, and future travel sales look hopeful. Almost half of the offices surveyed (46%) assume that the demand for travel services will increase in the next six months compared to the previous year (previous month: 21%). 20% (previous month: 22%) expect demand to remain the same, and 34% (previous month: 57%) expect demand to decrease.
Corona pandemic has led to a drastic slump in the events business
Last year’s crisis shook up the event industry considerably: According to the recently published Meeting and Event Barometer 2020/21, the number of face-to-face events in this country fell by 70% last year compared to 2019. At the same time, the number of participants fell by 86%. In total, only about 800,000 work-related meetings and other events took place in this country last year as purely face-to-face events. If hybrid or purely virtual formats are included, 2.3 million events with approximately 234 million participants were still held in Germany in 2020.
“The study results clearly show how quickly event organizers have been able to adapt to the challenges posed by the coronavirus and reposition themselves with virtual and hybrid events,” says GCB CEO Matthias Schultze. “The importance of the future role of business events as a corporate communication tool will continue to grow in the process – across all formats.”
Recovery of the events market will extend beyond 2021
A qualitative structural change in the market has already begun and was massively accelerated by the corona pandemic, according to an EITW study. The digital transformation and sustainability trends are generating innovative concepts and new players, it seems, and the trend toward hybrid and spatially distributed events will continue to grow from the current situation. People will return to face-to-face events, but in many cases these will be extended virtually and thus be able to tap into larger communities. Many providers in Germany as a conference and congress location are already responding accordingly. Half of the event centers, conference hotels and event locations surveyed for the study stated that they had invested in technology for hybrid or digital formats due to corona. In addition to the necessary technical infrastructure, the optimal design of the participant experience will be even more important in the future.
German testing institute Certified conducted a survey in April among its network of travel managers, buyers, office professionals and event planners
The most important result: 76% “extremely” or “very much” miss face-to-face meetings. Among other things, the participants of the survey regret not being able to perceive the other participants with all five senses. The inability to “read between the lines” is also seen as a disadvantage of online solutions. The verdict is particularly clear when it comes to emotions: These are only possible to a very limited extent digitally, as opposed to personal exchanges during small talk over coffee, a glass of wine at the bar or a cigarette outdoors.
The vaccination issue is the most-talked-about in the media, especially around vaccination prioritization. In addition, there is still a lot of focus on other countries: how things are going outside Germany, what the government is deciding and what regulations there are. Economically, there is a lot of discussion about short-time work as a result of the pandemic.
Journalists are interested in travelling, but are still afraid of contagion abroad. Many do not want to go on a press trip until they have been vaccinated.
What does the future of the regional daily newspaper look like?
The demand for mobile and individualized offers is particularly high. Two aspects in particular make the local section special: on one hand, local news and stories that positively strengthen the feeling of home and the bond to a place on an emotional level, and on the other hand, service topics as an answer to the question of what is happening locally. Print is by no means dead among young readers; but instead of the classic printed newspaper, younger respondents want a handy format and, above all, a more visually appealing, graphic presentation of the content. And they show a willingness to pay for digital content – if the payment process is simple and based on processes and models like Spotify or Netflix.
Five trends that benefit magazines in the “new normal”
The first quarter was marked by the lockdown this year, whereas last year it was largely business as usual. The population has arrived in the “new normal” after a year of pandemic and has practiced new behaviors. Could magazines benefit from this and establish themselves in the “new normal”? Yes, absolutely.
1. The domesticity forced by the pandemic gave the IVW segment of home and garden magazines a powerful boost. The segment is heterogeneous, and includes architecture titles as well as classic home magazines, do-it-yourself titles, garden and country magazines.
2. People were looking for an alternative to delivery services and fast food. Thus, cooking magazines were increasingly in demand. The highest growth rates were recorded by “Essen & Trinken für jeden Tag” with 21%. Two other magazines, whose titles suggest different concepts, also achieved double-digit growth: “Der Feinschmecker” by around 13%, and “Meine gute Landküche” by 11%.
3. The closure of day-care centers and schools during the pandemic gave children’s magazines an additional boost. This is because most parents preferred to see their children painting, doing handicrafts or reading rather than watching TV. Overall, the segment sold more than 300,000 copies in EV and subscription, or a good fifth more than in the previous year.
4. Four stock market titles posted double-digit percentage growth, including three classic business magazines with a broader range of topics – “Capital,” “Wirtschaftswoche” and “manager magazin.”
5. Team sports could no longer be practiced, so many switched to bicycles. No wonder, then, that three relevant magazines – “Mountainbike,” “Bike” and “Roadbike” – were able to increase their circulation. The highest absolute growth, however, was achieved by “Yacht.”
The following measures are currently in effect:
– Hotels and restaurants are allowed to reopen.
– Shops, museums, culture and leisure facilities are open. Events can take place again under strict protective measures.
– A landing ban for flights from South Africa, India, Brazil and the UK is in effect.
– Entry regulations are in effect, and additional local rules for certain regions with high COVID numbers may be in effect as well.
– For almost all public indoor and some outdoor spaces (hotels, restaurants, events, etc.), one will need to show either a negative COVID test or proof of vaccination/past infection.
– People are required to keep a minimum distance of 2 meters from people from other households.
– FFP2 masks are required on public transport and in other public spaces.
Meetings and events
Meetings without allocated and marked seats up to 50 persons can take place again as of 19 May. Furthermore, meetings with allocated and marked seats up to 1,500 persons in indoor locations and up to 3,000 persons at open-air locations can take place as well. All those meetings must be in line with current COVID-19 regulations.
Switzerland further relaxes COVID-19 restrictions
– Restaurants can open indoor and outdoor areas.
– The requirement to work from home has been downgraded to a recommendation.
– Public events can be held with larger numbers than before.
– People who have been vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 are exempt from quarantine and testing requirements when entering Switzerland. However, this doesn’t apply to travellers from countries with virus variants of “significant concern.”
– A forgery-proof COVID-19 certificate will be available by the end of June to anyone who has been vaccinated, has recovered from COVID or has recently tested negative for coronavirus.
Swiss COVID certificate on the way
The Federal Council has specified the use and form of a Swiss COVID certificate intended to enable people to resume certain activities in a transitional phase and to prove whether they are either immune to the virus (vaccinated or recovered) or have been tested recently. It thus corresponds to the 3G system used by other countries. Those who cannot or do not want to be vaccinated can also receive a certificate with a corona test. However, self-tests were not sufficient to obtain a certificate due to the insufficient accuracy. Children and adolescents up to the age of 16 should generally not need a certificate.
With regards to the travel sector, the Federal Council only provides for a few parts of public life for the mandatory use of the certificate. This so-called red area mainly includes international passenger traffic. It can be assumed that many countries would require a COVID certificate upon entry. However, it is not yet clear how the COVID certificate will actually be used in travel, or what will make it possible or easier: Whether, for example, the quarantine for the return journey in general, including from risk countries, could be dropped, or whether it would only be limited to the new category of “countries with a worrying variant.” The certificate should be available in Switzerland by the end of June.
Source: Travel Inside
Corona is changing travel behavior
The travel plans of over two-thirds of the Swiss population have been influenced since the virus outbreak – mainly through cancellations, followed by travel restrictions and quarantines. The annual TCS study on travel behavior also focused on the question of how great the longing for travel abroad is after a year of corona and whether the Swiss would get vaccinated for traveling. Although many Swiss had to forego travel abroad or were only able to travel to a limited extent, the longing for travel abroad is astonishingly low among the general population at 47%. The situation is different for TCS members: Two-thirds (66%) of the members state that they long to be able to travel beyond Swiss national borders – that is almost 20 percentage points more than the general population. The desire to travel in the population is particularly inhibited by the difficult conditions and different regulations in travel destinations. Although the vast majority (79%) feel well-informed about travel risks, the understandability of the travel recommendations is relatively low at 56%. As a consequence, if the recommendations are unclear, 70% of the respondents do without the planned trip.
The pandemic situation is increasing risk awareness among the population. Online platforms, which offer travel information and safety instructions, travel insurance with cancellation costs and medical repatriation benefit from this. When planning a trip, security measures against corona are weighed almost as highly as general security and supply on site. When asked about willingness to vaccinate, a majority of 64% said they would definitely or probably get vaccinated. A majority (62%) are also prepared to vaccinate themselves solely for travel or a stay abroad.
Source: Travel Inside
TOUR OPERATORS & AIRLINES
Tour operators pay for return PCR testing
PCR tests, as required by Switzerland for entry by air, are often expensive and a burden on the vacation budget. Now the first tour operators are starting to pay for tests for their customers before the return flight at the vacation destination. Market leader FTI, among others, is covering the cost of the mandatory PCR tests before returning to Switzerland for certain trips to its two main destinations, Turkey and Egypt.
Booking status for Whitsun for big Swiss tour operators
Hotelplan Suisse: “We have noticed that our customers want to increasingly enjoy their holidays in a warm destination again. This shows us, on the one hand, the increased search traffic on our website in the last days and weeks. In addition, we are again being contacted more frequently by customers who are interested in vacationing abroad. Hotelplan Suisse is currently recording bookings for holidays abroad, despite a slight increase compared to ‘before corona’ but still at a low level. The most popular destination is currently Spain (Canary Islands/Mallorca), followed by Switzerland, Greece and the United Arab Emirates (Dubai).”
Globetrotter Travel Service “is showing a slight upward trend. Above all, warmer regions such as Greece and Spain are booked. On the long haul, Namibia, Kenya and Mexico continue. There is no noticeable increase in prices.”
DER Touristik Suisse is recording a sustained positive booking trend across all brands, although the restart is not yet apparent for all brands and destinations equally.
FTI Touristik: “We are seeing increased demand for a large number of target areas – especially if they are not on the BAG list – and in some cases it has really skyrocketed. We have recorded particularly strong growth in booking numbers for the Greek islands, Turkey and Spain with the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands, but also recently for Italy and the United Arab Emirates. In addition, we are not only seeing a strong last-minute push for the Whitsun holidays, but also generally increasing demand. In addition to the countries mentioned above, Cyprus, Malta, Egypt and the Caribbean are currently very well booked for the summer season. Long-distance travel is currently particularly popular for the entire winter season 2021/22 and for the summer of 2022.”
TUI Suisse: “In the past few weeks, the demand and contact from our customers has increased. The booking status is currently at a lower level with an upward trend. Customers also book their trips at short notice. Bookings for the summer holidays in July and August have increased since the most recent Federal Council meeting. The Greek islands of Crete, Kos and Rhodes are particularly popular, followed by Mallorca and southern Turkey. Our customers benefit from an attractive and stable price structure.”
Source: Travel Inside
Expo Event Swiss LiveCom Association presents 2020 trade fair statistics
The cumulative results of trade fair venues and organizers show how dramatic the results of the 2020 trade fair year will be. The organizers surveyed by Expo Event still held a total of 166 trade fairs in 2019; in 2020, just 38 trade fairs could be held. As a result, the number of trade fair visitors also fell significantly from 5.1 million to 0.6 million. The turnover realized by the exhibition venues and organizers in 2020 fell by 61.5% to CHF 263.7 million.
Pilot events will be possible from June 1 onwards
The maximum number of people at indoor events is 600, as proposed in the consultation. Outdoor pilot events can have up to 1000 people instead of 600 as originally planned. Five instead of three pilot events can be held per canto. For outdoor events, the obligation to wear a mask at the seat will be abolished.
Watch the Benelux market update here.
As of July 22 (via Target Travel)
Dear travel partners,
We hope your American Independence Day was a joyful day and your holiday was both fun and safe. As you may have heard, nearly 50 million Americans traveled over the holiday, many by car and most within the USA – that rivaled the busiest pre-pandemic holiday for the country.
We were hoping that we would also receive good news in regard to reciprocal border openings near the holiday period as restrictions for travel have eased significantly, but that did not happen. While there is much speculation around when the USA borders will reopen for international visitors, we continue to monitor the situation closely. In various gateway cities around the USA, the bulk of international direct flights are planned to resume by or around the Labor Day holiday, the week of September 6. We hope this will materialize so we can plan to be together at IPW in Las Vegas at the end of September and get back to business. We are so ready!
Across the region, vaccination programs are progressing well and the percentage of the population who are fully vaccinated continues to rise. In the Netherlands, we have reached a 99% vaccination completion rate for those eligible, with 41% of the total population being fully vaccinated, which ranks the Netherlands in the top 10 for completed vaccinations in Europe.
And as the vaccination rate continues to rise, restrictions continue to ease. We are now in Phase 4 of reopening and are starting to see normalcy return to our daily lives. There is no mandatory masking unless social distancing cannot be guaranteed, and people are returning to gatherings, restaurants, bars, the cinema and shopping. And as people move more freely, the demand for long-haul travel continues compound.
On the other hand, we also face challenges while opening up. The number of infections is rising; however, not among vulnerable people, and fewer people are hospitalized. This proves that vaccinating is the way to open up the world. With people vaccinated, we can safely reopen international travel with proper safety measures in place.
We do hope U.S. President Biden is actually coming with more information on the timing for lifting international travel bans within the next several days. Each day that outdated restrictions on travel exist wreaks economic damage. So together with U.S. Travel, we urge, in accordance with the latest science, to swiftly revise the entry policies on international travel.
We hope to meet you all soon in person! Stay safe, stay healthy,
Everyone in the Netherlands has now received an invitation to schedule and receive their vaccine. In total, 18.3 million vaccinations have been administered and 43% of the population is fully vaccinated. The one-dose Janssen vaccine is now approved and being administered. When this vaccine was publicly available, the national health organization received 5 million phone calls from people who wanted to get it. It’s great to see the willingness to get vaccinated is still very high.
A while ago, the government lifted major restrictions (for example, receiving more visitors at private homes and allowing indoor and outdoor events upon showing proof of vaccination or a negative test result). As a result of active testing, the total number of infections increased last week, but thankfully, the number of people needing assistance in a hospital remains minimal. Due to the great summer weather in the Netherlands, people will be spending more time outside, minimizing the risk of spreading infections. A lovely summer is ahead of us.
The daily new infection rate continues to decline rapidly, while the total number of vaccinated people is increasing. In total, 13 million vaccinations have been administered. In Belgium, almost half of the population is fully vaccinated. An additional 25% has received at least one dose. Belgium is working with a four-step plan to open up the country this summer. At each step, which is defined by the number of people who have been vaccinated, rules and regulations are lifted or loosened. With the positive developments in the country, progress is going smoothly.
The European Union has created a CoronaCheck app, which provides people with a QR code that can be presented for entry at events or for intra-European travel. After receiving the COVID-19 vaccination, having a registered negative COVID-19 test or after recovering from the virus, the QR code will be displayed green. Green means “GO!” and we are ready to rediscover our love of travel!
Watch the France market update here.
As of January 10 (via Rep & Co.)
At the moment, France (like most of Europe) is dealing with a huge wave of the omicron COVID variant, although it’s not really translating into many hospitalizations (compared to previous variants). In fact, the sanitary protocols are currently being eased when it comes to omicron: the government has reduced the self-isolation period from 10 to 5 days in the event of someone testing positive, provided this person has a full vaccination scheme. The idea is to avoid having too many fully vaccinated persons missing at work for too long.
The rest of the protocol hasn’t changed, except for non-vaccinated people, who are experiencing more restrictions.
Masks are still mandatory in France (even outside), in crowded public spaces as well as during appointments. As of January 10, we haven’t heard of any new variants in France/Europe.
Watch the Italy market update here.
As of May 1 details remain the same as submitted on March 24 (via THEMA SRL)
We are all at home now (the entire country actually, not just 2 or 3 regions), but since two days with a much stronger list of restrictions which limit our movements just to go out for food or pharma in the proximity of our homes. Police controls are everywhere, and if they get people out without a tangible justification there is a fine. Since 2 days the government has also decided to cut production of goods to the very essential. Some companies are on a temporarily shut down.
Transportation is also partially frozen (in the cities as well as in the entire country). We are hoping that the growing spread of the virus will show a curve down in the next two weeks, but we also believe that the lockdown will continue even after April 3. We seriously doubt we will be able to get back to our offices. I would be happy if this could happen by the end of April, believe me!
All tour operators have drastically cut on staff, sending their people on “vacation leave” or even on layoffs. The majority are working from home, still managing cancellations and postponing of trips. Many of them had people planned to leave for the USA for the Easter holidays, but with the new travel ban all these travels needed to be cancelled or postponed. The situation is absolutely “crazy” with a terrible loss which is making the survival of Tour Operators even worst. In the last 2 weeks the Italian Tour Operator Association composed by some important brands of the industry, decided to charter carriers of the Italian private NEOS airline company (belonging to Alpitour Group) to bring back 22.000 vacationers from various countries. Flights left Italy empty, but returned full. This represented a very high cost for the T/Os that have supported the initiative: there has been no other way, without airlines flying at all ! Companies that we know such as Viaggidea, Presstours, Alidays etc. were part of this “rescue” operation.
We do estimate to re-start a sort of normal business life by next Fall. But: even if Italy could get out of this emergency by July, we all know that the pandemic effect has meanwhile involved other countries, limiting geographically the opportunities to activate a decent travel business and travel planning. There are countries (USA too) that have started now to get affected and infected, and they will all go through the same “hell” we have and are still experiencing here in Italy. (4 months at least)
Travel agencies are closed. Some of them work remotely. Their loss is also unprecedented. For sure many won’t survive.
In Italy we can claim a maximum of 8 weeks of wages, depending on how much turnover a company lose.People right now are seriously worried about losing their jobs. The downturn is visible.
Watch the Australia/New Zealand market update here.
As of June 15 (via Davidson Communications)
As of 15 June 2020 there have been 7335 cases of Covid 19 in Australia; 102 deaths and 1.83 million tests conducted.
NZ is now classed as being Covid-free and has move to Alert Level 1, the most relaxed of response levels and restrictions. New Zealanders are now able to travel freely within the country in both North and South Islands and have no restrictions on gatherings.
Restrictions have been eased within Australia but vary according to the State. In NSW, we are now allowed to go to restaurants, pubs and clubs ( 50 people max) have gatherings of up to 10 at home, 20 at weddings and funerals and are able to travel freely within our state and to Victoria. Other state borders remain closed but are working on opening dates in July.
Adult community sport can resume as of 1 July. The government has been widely advocating the use of a Covid 19 tracking app which allows them to more easily trace infections. The app is currently not compulsory.
International borders of Australia and New Zealand remain closed with no timeframe available for re-opening other than for a trans -Tasman air corridor that may see Australians and New Zealanders travel between the two countries as early as July (TBC) but this is now looking more likely not to be until September. Both NZ and Australian ski resorts will now open for the southern season from late July.
Australia has extended the ban on other international travel until September 17.
The Australian government has added to the current programs supporting the economy, businesses and jobs with additional funding for the construction sector, public hospital funding and mental health support.
The latest research study released by booking.com shows that Australians are still keen to return to the countries that were popular before Covid19 with Indonesia (Bali) first and USA second, followed by Thailand UK and Japan. According to Booking.com this highlights that Australians are not deterred from travelling to “ countries worst affected by the pandemic”.
Australians are placing more domestic travel on wish lists with 49% of lists featuring domestic experiences vs 28% same time last year.
A Lowy Institute study revealed the resilience of Australian travellers with 59% of Australians will be just as likely to travel overseas once the pandemic is contained (6% more likely and 35% less likely).
Flight Centre earlier forecast the closure of up to half their leisure retail business globally and are reining in agreements. Many at head office level aren’t back yet (same office as Centrelink and agreed they’d work to support them under govt arrangement).FC will now be ‘pay to play’ more than before – suspect they will get rid of Infinity. Their strategy will be more content and inspiration rather than front line training.
Helloworld we expect to see movement as they’ve been able to take stimulus package so some staff could come back (July tbc).
Adventure World sent out a Covid update and have retained all staff. Our co-op will be continued when appropriate and report has been supplied.
Collette pivoting to have less people on tours for social distance. They are still keen to have GAW at the original roadshows scheduled for October (which are now slightly scaled down), and will have big event over 3 days where key agents will be invited – November VIP travel forum (in Cairns).
Many other smaller companies and tour operators may not recover and are still either stood down or operating on less hours / less staff.
Future of retail agents may become more important as consumers had more success getting refunds and rebooked travel vs OTAs
United flying SYD-SFO until mid-July to repatriate citizens and for freight. May be extended, other flights tbc.
Virgin Australia deal to save it as domestic and international second airline is still underway but new owners not yet determined.
Qantas restarting domestic routes and Virgin also supported by government for regional domestic only.
Delta Airlines; waiting to confirm schedule once borders re-open, possibly July schedule
Hawaiian Airlines back in GDS as of July ( 14 day quarantine still in effect in Hawaii)
Loss of many media outlets and organisations;
Most freelance journalists now out of work
Bauer purchased Pacific Magazines and made many staff and journalists redundant and closed and put on hold many of the stable of publications
News Corporation has made over 100 regional / community outlets digital only. Escape newspaper travel supplement still running but a tenth of the size; and only 10% international inspiration content.
Fairfax/Nine newspapers; Traveller supplement due to return around July (pending advertising and lowest spend is $AU25K so may be unlikely).
Watch the Nordic market update here.
As of March 1 (via Related)
Latest infection numbers as of 01.03.2022
Denmark: 2,633,759 (81.3% vaccinated, 62.46% boosted)
Sweden: 2,441,142 (73.2% vaccinated, 48.27% boosted)
Norway: 1,242,160 (74.7% vaccinated, 52.69% boosted)
Finland: 657,443 (76.3% vaccinated, 49.82% boosted)
Travel advisory as of 01.03.2022
Denmark: All COVID-related travel restrictions have been lifted, except entry restrictions for travelers from certain countries.
Sweden: All COVID-related travel restrictions have been lifted, except entry restrictions for travelers from certain countries.
Norway: All COVID-related travel restrictions have been lifted, meaning all travelers (including Norwegian citizens and residents) no longer need to register on arrival in Norway. Further, the statutory requirement to obtain a negative test prior to travel and the requirement to register entry into Norway upon arrival have both been discontinued.
Finland: The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) no longer divides countries by color in terms of COVID-19. It is recommended that all who travel abroad should be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Recent Ferie for alle totaled 41,252 visitors
This weekend’s Ferie for alle totaled 41,252 visitors, compared to 2020 with 63,362 visitors. Despite the decline in visitor numbers, 270 stands were present. When the fair was last held in February 2020, it had 1,190 exhibitors from 40 countries in the 14 exhibition halls. However, several large travel agencies had announced that they could not participate this year due to lack of staff, which was the case for Spies, TUI and Jysk Rejsebureau.
Increased travel cravings after eased restrictions
Many Swedes want to travel since COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, and the demand for travel is very high at the moment. So high, in fact, that the pressure on appointments for new passports is overwhelming in several Swedish regions. For example, police in Östergötland are urging citizens to apply for appointments in other regions.
Denmark removes more entry restrictions
From March 1, Denmark will lift more entry restrictions for citizens from EU and Schengen countries, while restrictions on entry from other countries will be reduced. If a traveler is entering from a country outside the EU or Schengen, they will only be required to have a test done within 24 hours of entry. Travelers who have been vaccinated with a recognized vaccine or who can document that they have been infected with COVID-19 within the last 180 days are exempt from this requirement and can enter without restrictions.
Europe gets several new long-distance train routes
This year, at least 20 new long-distance train routes will be opened in Europe, many with accommodation on board. One of them passes Denmark on its way from Stockholm to Hamburg, set to open in the second half of 2022. The route will be run by Swedish railways, SJ, under the name EuroNight. Routes will be added from Vienna to Paris, Amsterdam to Zurich, Genoa to Naples, Brussels to Prague, Brussels, and Warsaw, Grax to Ljubljana, and Budapest, among many others.
General market insights
All four Nordic countries have removed – or will soon remove – the vast majority of COVID-19 restrictions, leaving only a few restrictions or recommendations. The outlook (with recent knowledge about the newest variant) seems to create optimism across the Nordics, and society is very close to being back to normal.
General news media
Media is still writing about the omicron variant, but the sentiment in the Nordic countries is shifting and the pandemic is not considered a hazardous disease anymore, but more like a flu. In this respect, several media outlets are also focusing on lifted restrictions around the world and discussions on when we can see an end to the pandemic. In the past week, there has also been a lot of media focus on the situation in Ukraine.
Most lifestyle media and dailies are focusing on travel and publishing travel stories as normal. The interest for domestic destinations and nearby locations within Europe are still of great interest, but long-haul destinations are also getting more attention. Media are focusing mainly on destinations open for visitors, and there are more and more reports from popular long-haul destinations, with journalists describing their experiences first-hand.
Media and journalists are showing great interest in planning press trips, both short-haul and long-haul, during 2022. The omicron variant is still affecting some planning, though, due to the uncertainty about local restrictions and measures in different countries that can change very quickly. Some media still have policies about not traveling on press trips until after Easter.
A few media outlets in Norway and Finland still won’t travel on press visits due to COVDI (so far until after Easter), and the Ukraine conflict is also causing insecurity among some media.
We are continuously in close contact with editors to get to know the sentiment among the different media and ongoingly pitch relevant story and press trip opportunities as appropriate.
With the Danish society completely reopened since 1 February, sales continue to boom in Denmark. There is not enough time – or manpower – to handle all requests that are coming into tour operators; thus, they are very selective when it comes to new marketing activities, trainings, fam trips, etc. All manpower is being used to handle requests, and new bookings, as well as for the hiring process of new team members. Very little time is currently spent on marketing since the additional requests that a campaign would bring can’t be handled by sales teams.
Sweden has also opened completely since 9 February, and we see a similar pattern there, both with regards to a boom in bookings/requests and lack of hands/labor in the travel industry. The big school holidays are well-booked (February, Easter and summer) and things are picking up in between, as well as cultural group travels. For the named holiday periods, it is primarily the sun and beach product that is requested, as well as ski travels in the upcoming school breaks.
The situation is slightly different in Norway and Finland. Even though Norway has opened since 12 February, consumer activities are still slower than in Denmark and Sweden. And in Finland, it has been announced that the current restrictions will be lifted at the end of this month.
One of the biggest challenges in the market right now is the very high number of infections in all four countries. With many holiday destinations requiring a negative PCR test upon arrival, many travelers are cancelling their trips last-minute because they are still testing positive despite having already recovered from COVID. This is also a big issue for tour operators and travel agents, since they need to deal with a lot of last-minute changes and even cancellations.
Preliminary list of activities, fairs and events taking place in 2022 (dates are subject to change, and events may be converted to virtual events, postponed or canceled):
– March 3: Travel Match; Norway
– March 7: USA Travel show; Denmark
– September 13-15: Discover America Norway roadshow
– October 8: Swanson’s America Day; Sweden (consumer show)
– October 10-13: Discover America Sweden roadshow
– October 26-27: PATA Worldwide workshops; Denmark
Norwegian has signed an agreement with AerCap, one of the world’s largest companies for aircraft leasing. Ten new Boeing MAX 8s are now being leased, which will be delivered during the first half of 2023, according to a press release. With the new additions, Norwegian will have a total of 80 fleets by the summer of 2023.
As a result of increased demand, SAS is presenting a larger summer program with 230 direct routes from Scandinavia to 120 destinations. This spring and summer, there will be 150 flights per week between Scandinavia and North America. Demand to Southern Europe continues to increase, and SAS is offering 500 flights per week to destinations such as Alicante, Barcelona, Nice, Malaga and Milan. While SAS is increasing its capacity for summer, they have presented a strategy and savings plan that will ensure DKK 5.2 billion in annual savings after a deficit of DKK 1.8 billion last quarter. They also revealed that SAS’s new strategy plan – named FORWARD – will be launched, including new routes, higher frequencies, and opening new bases to improve Scandinavian connectivity.
The situation in each Nordic country
All restrictions have been lifted in Denmark. The only COVID-related restriction remaining is for foreigners entering Denmark from countries outside the EU or Schengen: They will be required to have a test done within 24 hours of entry. Persons entering from outside the EU and Schengen who have been vaccinated with a recognized vaccine or can document that they have been infected with COVID-19 within the last 180 days are exempt from this requirement and can enter without restrictions.
The Norwegian government has removed all restrictions. All travelers (including Norwegian citizens and residents) no longer need to register upon arrival in Norway. Further, the statutory requirement to obtain a negative test prior to travel and the requirement to register entry into Norway upon arrival have both been discontinued.
All restrictions have been lifted, but a few recommendations still apply in Sweden. Everyone is encouraged to stay home and avoid close contact with others if they are ill with symptoms that may be COVID-19. The Swedish Public Health Agency also recommends that adults who have not been vaccinated take special precautions such as avoiding crowds.
Some regional restrictions remain in Finland, as well as recommendations for the use of face masks. Changes are made in step with how the regional spread of infection develops.