Three months ago, the travel and leisure industry had high hopes that holiday bookings would be flying by February 2021 given the vaccine breakthrough. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem as if the public is ready to commit to overseas holidays just yet, having been burned in 2020 by airlines being difficult over refunds and nervousness about booking anything until they’ve had the vaccine.
“Summer 2021 bookings for TUI are down 44% versus the same period two years ago. However, it is still optimistic about a last-minute surge for bookings, given it plans to operate 80% of 2019’s summer capacity for the same period this year,” according to AJ Bell.
“Pricing will be an interesting aspect to watch. While the travel and leisure industry may seem on its knees now, which implies scope for brave travellers to bag a bargain, as soon as the Covid vaccines have been administered to all over-50s there could be a large number of active people ready to travel. It is feasible to suggest that people will pay almost any price simply to reclaim their lives and get their two weeks in the sun.
“Holiday companies and airlines might try their luck at pushing up prices by a considerable amount as they need to claw back a considerable period of lost income.
“TUI is gambling its fortunes on a last-minute surge for summer bookings. Any major delay to rolling out the vaccine to a younger and more active age group could put significant pressure on its finances which are already creaking due to very high debt levels.”
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