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TUI Bets on Covid-19 Vaccines to Bring Back Travel

Photo source: TUI Group

Europe’s largest tour operator TUI is betting on speedy vaccination rollouts to enable travel soon, adding that it expects UK holidaymakers to be able to visit Greece as soon as April.

Though the group’s summer bookings were down by 44 percent against 2019 levels due to Covid-19 and in the midst of a third wave hitting most of Europe, TUI said on Tuesday, that it expects activity to pick up pace this summer attributing the forecast to the availability of vaccines.

According to TUI CEO Fritz Joussen, Greece is likely to be the first destination to reopen in view of Greek government plans to welcome visitors who provide proof of vaccination.

Overall, by the end of March, Joussen said he expects Covid-19 restrictions to ease thanks to national vaccination schemes.

TUI aims to run 80 percent of its normal program in 2021, adding that average prices were higher by about a fifth.

Current sales at 56% of 2019 levels

TUI CEO Fritz Joussen. Photo source: TUI Group

According to the travel giant, of the 2.8 million bookings for the summer season, approximately half are by customers booking with vouchers issued for cancelled holidays last year after the pandemic broke out. The operator’s current sales are at 56 percent of 2019 levels. Overall, the more than 50 percent of the company’s bookings come from the UK.

Joussen acknowledged a trend toward costlier holidays as reflected in bookings, which he said was “a good signal” and that “customers are in the starting blocks”.

The Hanover-based travel leisure firm, which sells holidays to 180 countries, is hoping on a summer comeback after suffering massive losses during the pandemic. The company risks running out of cash despite receiving 4.8 billion euros  in German government and private funding since the start of the health crisis.

Joussen said a recovery in July, August and September would ensure no additional liquidity will be required.

Lastly, he called on governments to “use all opportunities” to ease restrictions and restore freedom of movement as soon as possible.

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