After a few months marked by uncertainty, the announcement by the Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, that Spain will advance from 1 July to 21 June the opening of borders with the countries of the Schengen area, except Portugal, has meant a breath of air fresh in the face of the reactivation of the Spanish issuer. “The basic thing is air connectivity, which is now moving forward, and this means more alternatives for those who want to travel to these countries that are safe”, points Martí Sarrate, president of the Corporate Association of Specialized Travel Agencies (ACAVE).
“We are confident that since the companies start flying, customer confidence will start to improve,” explains Juan del Hoyo, CEO of the Azul Marino group, and founder and spokesperson of the #locosporviajar group, created by a group of 32 travel agencies to defend their interests against the coronavirus crisis. (See Long-distance travel agencies, towards the new normal and The heterogeneous group of travel agents who are fighting not to become extinct). “We are waiting to see what airlines do to see if customers are encouraged and demand increases”, abounds.
“We are in the hands of how will all the connectivity of all countries be outlined“agrees Pilar Nieto, commercial director of Catai, who confirms that after the end of the state of alarm the Spanish begin to cheer up when they start asking for budgets.
Last year, the Spanish made 20 million trips abroad, according to data from the INE’s Tourism Survey of Residents, Familitur. The figures are far from being as rosy for this 2020, in which everything indicates that it will be “a difficult year” for these outings, according to the president of ACAVE, qWho points falls of between 60 and 65% of sales internationally compared to last year.
Thus, the summer of the coronavirus will also be the summer of national tourism, according to the CEO of the Azul Marino Group, who highlights that in recent weeks “something is already starting to sell, but only Spain”, although everything points that the effects of Sánchez’s announcement will be noticed soon
“The national occupations are going to rise quite a bit in 15 days,” he predicts. However, it does not rule out that later, after the opening of borders to international tourism, there may be a “Timid recovery” of reserves to Europe.
“There is talk of reviving national tourism and it is a plan in which everyone is collaborating”, Sarrate says, who details that the recovery process of the sector will start from ehis domestic market, which will be followed by “continental tourism to countries in Europe with the same health situation, while the issue of intercontinental travel is a little further and will be reactivated by 2021, “emphasizes Sarrate, who calls for the fact that 93% of the 193 countries in the world have been affected by the virus world, and 156 borders have been closed, 73%.
Regarding the long distance, from Catai they are more optimistic and they focus on the last quarter of the year for the recovery of these destinations. “We will be subject to how countries open up and that air connectivity allows us to reach these more complex trips to recover our programming,” says Nieto.
In this way, Sarrate targets countries such as Germany, Italy, France, the Netherlands or Belgium as the first to have Spanish tourists, while once the borders of space are opened Schengen from July 1, others may be taken into account as long as they have the same epidemiological situation as Spain.
“People who have decided to travel in Europe are going to do it, we are in a situation in which there are many European countries that have not had the strongest blow such as Italy or Spain that have been in the worst”, says Nieto, who points countries like Iceland, “which was never closed” by the virus, lScandinavian countries, Greece or Croatia, which are in good health, on which “there may be a good answer” from the Spanish traveler.
For his part, Sarrate sees an area that can be reactivated shortly: the Corporate, given that companies have to travel, and although until now they could only do so with justified permits, there was hardly any connectivity.
“As this increases, with the new protocols, these companies will begin to travel possibly sooner,” says the president of ACAVE, who also glimpses “a hopeful thread” that just at the end of the last quarter “some fair or congress”
As he points out, with the advancement of the opening of borders, a long period of uncertainty ends in which the “contradictory” announcements by the Government have taken place, something that has not helped especially so that those citizens who are going to be able to go on vacation could make a decision. “Now people have the clearest ideas,” says Sarrate, who points to July and August as the months that will concentrate these outings, and also September, but now with other types of clients.
In this regard, the commercial director of Catai, points out that if air connections do not start to revive, many people will postpone their vacations “and instead of traveling in July they will do so in August and September”
After this pandemic that has shaken the planet, the Spanish will not travel as before. The health crisis and the months of confinement will cause changes in demand when deciding and outdoor spaces will weigh heavily.
“They will bet on everything that is considered safe, destinations with good facilities, beaches, swimming pools, terraces, gardens … All that they have not been able to enjoy during the confinement”, explains Del Hoyo, who maintains that they will tend to flee from overcrowding, since it involves a higher risk of contagion
This new trend is confirmed by the commercial director of Catai, who points out that her group (Ávoris) has indeed begun to verify a predilection for sun and beach and nature. “After being confined for so long, you want to be outdoors,” he reiterates.
In this regard, Sarrate points to two new values that the Spanish will begin to demand of destinations: security and trust. “It will be essential for a series of protocols to be followed to help them lose psychological fear or identifying stamps that the consumer can see. That will give them a certain security, “he maintains.
Also in the new normal it will be essential the work of travel agencies, who have seen how their image with customers has been strengthened after this crisis against individual purchases. “We have responded, we have made repatriations and solved thousands of problems,” recalls Del Hoyo.
“The travel agency has increased in value Because we have played a great role and because in the end we guarantee 100% compliance with the services and the consumer has found out. It is an attribute and an added value ”, recalls Sarrate, who points out that a consumer who has reserved something directly“ has to fight with the provider, call a phone that perhaps does not answer and is a more complicated process ”. “We are his guardian angel and we are at his service 24 hours a day,” he adds.
Thus, it values the specialization of these establishments and that the client is informed 100% with transparency and truthfulness and influences the crucial work of the agencies when it comes to restoring consumer confidence so that they can go back on vacation .
“We will have to help the psychological fear to be lost, to become specialists more than ever, and advise them that here they can travel with full guarantee and safety because they comply with protocols or because there is a seal that accredits it,” says the president of ACAVE, who abounds that “we will not send you to the place if there is no such trust”
Desire to travel
For the president of ACAVE, after having endured a long confinement at home, the Spanish want to travel.
“Spending two months in confinement is hard and has produced a lot of stress. We have already seen how after opening, the beaches and terraces are full. Holidays are a necessity ”, he stresses
“It is quite clear that people want to travel,” confirms Nieto, who explains that the surveys they have carried out from his company have highlighted “this desire to travel, this summer inclusive”.
At the time of booking, and seen what was seen during this crisis, the Spanish travel insurance will also take a different look. “They are essential on the move”, emphasizes Sarrate, who details that the insurance companies with which they work are already applying novelties and introducing new coverage to give greater guarantees to the consumer because, in times of pandemic, certain policies have been outdated.
“In the end, I believe that the best investment that can be made in a trip is to take out an insurance policy through the travel agency in case something happens,” he recommends.