While the Balearic government has been preoccupied with the circularity and sustainability of tourism and the legal means of enforcement, tourists themselves have done their best to support the islands. leading industry by doing what mainly interests tourists – booking a vacation.
Findings from travel data analysts, search engines and travel networks have created a kind of growth industry because of Covid. These results were obviously available before March 2020, but since then they have taken on a position of great importance precisely because of the uncertainties for travel caused by the pandemic.
They have therefore become as crucial a feature of Balearic tourism as the bed lifts and compost heaps in hotel grounds seem destined to become. And as the beds will be, these discoveries will not disappear. Technologyin this case tourism data, guides the tourism industry in much the same way that a non-tech tourist guide does when guiding holidaymakers around the historic sights of Palma.
Is the pandemic over? Well, sort of, yes, when it comes to tourism. Right now it’s over except the cries of the Covid passport for travel, a negative PCR test for British teenagers and, no doubt, a Covid hotel under contract with the Balearic government here or there to accommodate Spanish students this summer. Data analysts are certainly indicating that, if not entirely a nightmare of the past, the pandemic is a minimal impediment to pan-European travel. And guess who leads the way?
According to TravelgateX, “based in sunny Palma de Mallorca, Spain”, to quote their website, Brits are on the go and on planes. And to some extent, that must make Steve Heapy and Michael O’Leary salivate (to name just two) enthusiasm. It’s all that pent up demand and pent up savings; in part anyway. TravelgateX reports that Brits are having fun with the stakes of the Balearic Easter holidays.
Forty-three percent of Easter bookings are British, an unprecedented market share leadership.
Easter would normally find the Spaniards in pole position, but domestic tourism – so desired by Mallorcan bakers due to all the ensaimadas brought home from this tourism – can only reach 33%. The British and the Spaniards have therefore, and until now, arrogated three-quarters of the market. Exit? Well absolutely. The Germans apparently languish in a remote area third place with only eight percent. Which seems a particularly low percentage considering the industrial volume of bicycles that are traditionally transported from German airports around Easter or rented once there.
This seemingly low percentage of Germans may be something of a hangover caused by Omicron and a preponderance of last-minute bookings. The percentages will almost certainly change. But beyond Easter, trends uncovered by our friends in the travel tech industry indicate that Omicron turned out or turns out to be of little or no consequence. You could even say that Omicron gave a boost.
Mabrian Techologies, motto ‘Making-Bright-Analytics’ and based in Barcelona (sunny or not), also highlights how the Brits will soar this summer. They will do this more than others, with the UK source market for the summer season having soared to almost 90%. Germany is still below 70%.
These figures relate to a selection of destination countries, including Spain, but they allow us to conclude that arrivals in the main European destinations this summer will be back, or almost at least, to 2019 levels.
Returning to the German market and its intentions for Majorca, HolidayCheck, “the largest independent hotel reviews and booking portal in the German-speaking region (based in sometimes sunny Switzerland)”, points to a downward trend in bookings last minute and particularly strong demand for Mallorca this summer.
There is also this strong demand for the Turkish Riviera and the Greek islands, but the results of HolidayCheck underline – like others – the remarkable return of confidence from holidaymakers; remarkable after all everyone’s been through and the still relative recency of the threat seemingly posed by Omicron.
If further confirmation of the rebound is needed, it comes from Benidorm, where Hosbec hoteliers speak of a recovery “inversely proportional” to the disappearance of the virus. The UK market is said to be booming. Pre-pandemic figures for this summer are expected.
Hosbec expects Easter bookings to be around 25% lower than normal (around 60%) and May bookings down 15% (70% to 75%). Come June, however, and all systems are working – a “normalized” level of activity.
The president of the national confederation of hotel associations CEHAT, Jorge Marichal, is among those who question this activity, believing that “it will be difficult to match the figures of 2019”. However, he acknowledges that it won’t be impossible either. The head of the confederation of travel agencies, Carlos Garrido, who believes that this summer will work “correctly”, agrees with Marichal that one of the reasons for the particularly high demand for the Balearic Islands and Spain will be the perception of security sanitary compared to other destinations.
The pandemic, in this respect, is clearly not over, if vacationers continue to consider health safety when making vacation decisions. Marichal says Spain has health coverage “light years ahead of other destinations”, by which he mainly means those in North Africa. Garrido thinks this needs to be emphasized in promotional efforts – selling Spain as a safe destination above the rest.
This safe destination message is one that has been used consistently over the past two years, with the Balearic Islands bidding to be the safest of them all. Mallorca Council have just announced that they will be launching a major promotional campaign in March. While sustainability should be emphasized in messaging, it can be a good idea to remember the health angle.
Bookings are exploding, the virus no longer has the deterrent effect it used to have in the minds of travelers or in the form of travel restrictions (except the Covid passport and tests here or there). The virus may not dominate the mind, but it will be there in the back of the mind. Travel safety will remain a key factor, and therefore health security at destination will, for now, continue to be a factor as well.