While flight searches and bookings remain down, similar to the previous few weeks, people still looking for travel in the near future, according to Sojern’s insights about COVID-19’s travel impact in Europe.
What is interesting is that while down, countries that have announced steps to reduce or ease their lockdowns, are slightly less down when compared to countries that are still in the midst of full lockdown.
For example, Switzerland has reopened some businesses, such as approved hairdresser and flower shops, with the next stage of easing occurring on 11 May, when primary school children return to school and all retail stores reopen. Greece is opening registry offices and courts today (27 April), with plans to potentially reopen some shops next week. We see that travel searches to Switzerland and Greece are both down by 73% YoY, but this is slightly higher when compared to countries like the UK or France, that have not yet implemented lockdown restrictions, and are down more than 80% YoY.
Switzerland and Greece Show Uptick in Travel Intent
When we look more closely at Switzerland and Greece long-term, we also see an uptick in Intra Regional (ie – European) travel intent as early as November. By February 2021 we see that European travel searches to Greece are up nearly 18% YoY. Switzerland is also showing a positive upwards trend for the same period, although we currently see it peak in January 2021.
Diving a bit deeper into this data, the flight searches that are currently happening, are for more immediate travel. For example, about 87% of searches for travel for the next 11 months to Greece, and 81% of searches to Switzerland at the moment are for travel in either Q2 or Q3. While bookings are a greater sign of travel confidence than searches, this is a positive sign that people are still looking for travel in the near future—far sooner than 2021.
What is also encouraging is that there is an increase in flight bookings from European origins to these two countries during the same period – to the point where they are only up or down a few percentage points YoY.
Czech Republic Eases Non-Essential Travel, and Travel Intent Surges
One European country that has started to dramatically reduce lockdown restrictions is the Czech Republic. Today the government has reopened universities – and in fact, non-essential travel is now permitted, although masks are required to be worn while in public. Domestic hotel searches have seen a dramatic uptick – and at last reading were up 15% YoY. While bookings are still down, this is a positive trend, showing that once travel restrictions are lifted, there is a near-automatic recovery in travel intent.
These insights are based on data collected on the 27th April, 2020. Sojern’s insights are based on over 350 million traveller profiles and billions of travel intent signals, however it does not capture one hundred percent of the travel market.
- Sojern’s insights on COVID-19’s on Travel Impact in Europe - April 30, 2020
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