TUI boss says summer vacation can be saved through vaccination

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The boss of Europe’s largest travel company has said he is “optimistic” that the summer holidays can be saved with successful vaccination programs.

In an interview with the BBC, Friedrich Joussen, CEO of the Tui Group, said bookings had reached 2.8 million by March, with the company expecting to be able to run up to 75% of its normal schedule for the summer season.

Britons will be allowed to travel abroad for overseas vacations from May 17, according to the government’s roadmap to ease restrictions on the coronavirus.

Britons may travel abroad for overseas vacations from May 17, according to government roadmap to ease coronavirus restrictions

Referring to the success of vaccination programs in the UK, US and Europe, Mr Joussen told the broadcaster: ‘We are still confident that we will have a decent summer.

‘All the medical advice we receive as a company says that existing vaccines work with existing variants.

“Now they may be less efficient at times, but it’s much better than not getting vaccinated.”

Mr. Joussen also said he thinks a negative test result would be as effective as a vaccine passport in preventing the spread of the virus, although he admitted that the tests would have to be cheaper for the strategy to succeed.

Last month, Tui lowered its summer vacation schedule to three-quarters of its pre-pandemic capacity amid a spiraling third Covid wave in Europe.

The Anglo-German company already planned to operate at 80 percent capacity, but confirmed it would cut vacation options by an additional five percent.

Tui Group CEO Friedrich Joussen (pictured) said bookings had reached 2.8 million by March

Tui Group CEO Friedrich Joussen (pictured) said bookings had reached 2.8 million by March

TUI expects to implement up to 75 percent of its summer schedule this year

TUI expects to implement up to 75 percent of its summer schedule this year

Bookings for the summer are down 60 percent compared to the same period in 2019.

Tui chief executive Fritz Joussen told the company’s annual general meeting that it must “maintain sufficient flexibility” to increase capacity “if our customer demand recovers more quickly when travel restrictions are lifted.”

Many UK-based travelers who have booked trips that were due to commence before May 17, the earliest date for the resumption of foreign holiday travel for people in England, have moved their holidays to a later date.

“We are optimistic about the coming seasons,” said Joussen.

“ We are seeing strong demand coming summer in the UK with bookings up about 120%, with May 2022 in particular already up over 150%. ”

If the rules for the coronavirus are relaxed, there will be a “ strong summer business in tourism this year, ” Mr Joussen said.

“The prospects for this are good in the UK anyway,” he added.

Tui revealed that it plans to close 48 additional stores in the UK, stating that the travel industry and the high street are ‘both under unprecedented pressure’.

This came after it was announced in July 2020 that 166 stores closed due to the virus crisis would not reopen, which was nearly a third of the total.

One foot in the Algarve! Portugal’s ban on flights from Britain expires tomorrow … but Brits hoping for a holiday will have to wait until May 17 before UK restrictions are lifted

By Tom Pyman for MailOnline

Portugal is lifting its ban on flights from Britain tomorrow, but holidaymakers hoping to travel to the Algarve will have to wait until May 17, when the UK’s own restrictions are lifted.

According to Boris Johnson’s roadmap from lockdown, it is still illegal for Britons to travel abroad on holiday, but that measure could be lifted next month if the number of Covid cases and deaths continues to decline, as has consistently happened since the start of the year.

When international travel resumes, a ‘traffic light system’ will be used to determine where in the world is safest for tourists to fly to.

Portugal, along with a number of other popular destinations, is expected to be on the ‘green’ list next month, where the level of risk is considered low.

Despite the ban, British Airways will resume flights from London to Faro this Saturday, April 24.

It comes as Portugal’s tourism minister said last night that the country will do its best to avoid quarantining visitors upon arrival, with much of the continent heading for Covid passports to try and enter the travel industry. to initiate.

People enjoy the beach in Loule, Algarve last May, when the lockdown restrictions were first lifted

People enjoy the beach in Loule, Algarve last May, when the lockdown restrictions were first lifted

A man sits on a bench in a quiet marina in Faro last month amid Covid's continued incarceration

A man sits on a bench in a quiet marina in Faro last month amid Covid’s continued incarceration

According to the plans, fully vaccinated tourists can enter countries without any restrictions, but those who have not had both injections will require a negative test before arriving, and may encounter other curbs.

Rita Marques told an online conference that the country would ‘try at all costs to avoid quarantines and additional Covid-19 tests’ if the travel pass plan goes ahead.

Tourism-dependent Portugal holds the rotating EU presidency and is responsible for negotiating the new pass with member states.

It would make it possible to free international travel despite the bloc’s slow vaccination campaign and the risks posed by new coronavirus variants.

Marques said that while this summer would not be “completely normal,” Portugal “would certainly bet on upholding the basic principles of the free movement of people and goods.”

The country’s once thriving tourism sector suffered its worst year since the mid-1980s in 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent locks grounded flights worldwide and kept visitors away.

Meanwhile, Brexit is seen by Portuguese hotels as another difficult obstacle, as Britain is one of the country’s main markets.

“Portugal still identifies many issues that require special attention due to Brexit, but the Portugal brand is strong, especially among the British,” Marques said. “The UK remains … the main outbound country.”

Between the start of the pandemic in March 2020 and February this year, Portuguese hotel revenues fell by 74% to 1.1 billion euros, while the number of domestic and foreign tourists fell by 71%, according to official data.

It comes when travel bosses yesterday denounced the government’s approach to resume international flights, claiming it was ‘too cautious’ and warning that many vacation companies are ‘teetering on the brink.’

High industry figures told Transport Select Committee MPs that the proposed traffic light system is “too complex,” while the ministers’ overall strategy is “very vague in many areas.”

They also warned that airport border controls are already “unable” to address Covid controls, despite the massive reduction in passenger numbers due to the lockdown ban on non-essential international travel.

It was said that there must be “a dramatic improvement in border performance if we are to increase passenger numbers” when flights resume.

Despite criticism of the government’s approach, airline bosses have boosted millions of Britons in hopes of summer vacation abroad, saying most of Europe and the US would be on the ‘green list’ can stand.

Johan Lundgren, CEO of easyJet, said he expects ‘most European countries’ will be included in the government’s quarantine-free category when international travel returns from May 17.

When asked if he expects destinations such as France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Croatia, Cyprus and Turkey to be on the government’s’ green list ‘, Mr Lundgren replied,’ Yes, by the time we get to May 17 open for travel and if the government continues to apply the plan to the two-test system. ‘

Meanwhile, British Airways chief Sean Doyle said the continued success of vaccine rollouts in the UK and US could create a transatlantic travel corridor.

Last month, experts said London and Washington were already testing a bilateral plan for safe travel between the two countries.

Speaking at an online industry event, Mr Doyle also said the company would be offering £ 60 PCR testing to its customers amid concerns that the bill some testing companies are charging of around £ 120 could potentially affect many families. prices for a trip abroad.

His comments echo the announcement of the testing company Randox, which said earlier this week that it would offer £ 60 tests through partner airlines in an effort to support the industry’s recovery.

The government has yet to say which countries will be on the ‘green list’ for low-risk travel, but the Department of Transportation has pledged to categorize countries ‘in early May’.

The assessments will be based on a range of factors, including the proportion of a country’s population that has been vaccinated, the number of infections, emerging new variants and the country’s access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing.