POSITIVE SUMMER HOLIDAY REVIEW
TUI, the number one travel company in Belgium, looks back with satisfaction on the past two months of vacation. In comparison with summer 2020, almost 3 times more Belgians have booked air vacations.
The circumstances were more favourable this year when last summer there were no vaccines yet. Reservations were also very atypical: until April 19, date of the lifting of the ban on non-essential travel, they hardly budged. Holidays have since been allowed again – although still not recommended – and more and more destinations are being assigned a green or orange code. Due to the gradual increase in vaccination coverage, an exceptional wave of last-minute bookings has been created. On July 1, the negative travel advisory for Europe also ended, making all package travel to European destinations possible, regardless of their colour code.
This summer, it seems that many Belgians have felt a great need for a vacation, especially because of the gloomy weather. Thus, compared to summer 2020, three times more people have booked air vacations. However, this result represents only half of the number of travellers in 2019, during the last “normal” summer vacation. The constantly changing colour codes and the resulting uncertainty, as well as negative travel advisories for non-European countries, are the main reasons for this. Reservations for popular destinations such as Turkey, Tunisia, Egypt or the Dominican Republic, therefore, had to be cancelled each time a few weeks before departure.
A number of European destinations have therefore aroused increased interest and even exceeded the number of travellers in 2019. All the Greek and Spanish islands have thus welcomed many more holidaymakers. The Greek island of Santorini stands out with 50% more bookings than in 2019. Rhodes was the most popular destination, followed by Mallorca, Crete, Kos and Tenerife. The fact that the Greek islands were able to keep a green or orange code for a long time in terms of contamination figures certainly explains this success. This summer, and for the first time, Greece is the number one destination and beats Spain: 46% of the total number against 39% for Spain. Bulgaria (5%), Italy (4%) and Portugal (3%) complete the top 5 countries for air holidays with much more modest percentages.
It is striking to note that for the third consecutive summer, Belgians spend more on their holidays (on average € 1,239 / person compared to € 1,165 in 2019) and at the same time book increasingly shorter holidays (average 8 nights compared to 9 nights in 2019). For the first time, as many travellers left in July as in August, when July is usually the most important holiday month. The wait for a full vaccination may have played an important role here.
Vacations by car were already relatively popular in 2020 and this trend continued into the summer, although TUI still saw 30% fewer bookings in this segment compared to the successful summer of 2019.
July remains by far the most popular period and collects 60% of reservations. One in three car trips involves France, a country that has been popular for many years. And 19% of TUI holidaymakers – a record! – have chosen Belgium and booked a holiday at the coast or in the Ardennes. Austria succeeded in convincing 15% of travellers, Germany 12% and Italy 8%. The average budget per person was 439 € / person, an increase of 15% compared to 2019.