The boss of Europe’s largest tour company has said he is ‘optimistic’ the summer holiday season can be saved with successful vaccine programmes.
In an interview with the BBC, Tui Group chief executive Friedrich Joussen said bookings in March had hit 2.8 million, with the company expecting to operate up to 75% of its normal schedule for the summer season.
Britons are set to be allowed to travel abroad for foreign holidays from May 17 under the Government’s road map to easing coronavirus restrictions.
Britons are set to be allowed to travel abroad for foreign holidays from May 17 under the Government’s road map to easing coronavirus restrictions
Tui Group chief executive Friedrich Joussen (pictured) said bookings in March had hit 2.8 million
Pointing to the success of vaccination programmes in the UK, US and Europe, Mr Joussen told the broadcaster: ‘We are still confident that we will have a decent summer.
‘All medical advice we are getting as a company says that existing vaccines are working with existing variants.
‘Now they might be less efficient sometimes, but still it’s much better than not being vaccinated.’
Mr Joussen also said he thinks a negative test result would be just as effective as a vaccine passport in preventing the spread of the virus, though he admitted the tests would need to be cheaper for the strategy to be successful.
Last month, Tui slashed its summer holiday schedule to three quarters of its pre-pandemic capacity amid a spiralling Covid third wave in Europe.
The Anglo-German firm had already planned to operate at 80 per cent capacity but confirmed it would hack holiday options down by another five per cent.
TUI is expecting to operate up to 75 per cent of its summer schedule this year
Bookings for summer are down by 60 per cent compared to the same period in 2019.
Tui chief executive Fritz Joussen told the company’s annual general meeting it must ‘retain sufficient flexibility’ to increase capacity ‘if our customers’ demand recovers more quickly when the travel restrictions are lifted’.
Many UK-based travellers who booked trips due to begin before May 17, the earliest date for the resumption of foreign leisure travel for people in England, have rescheduled their holiday for a later date.
‘We look to the coming seasons with optimism,’ Mr Joussen said.
‘We’re seeing strong demand for next summer in the UK with bookings up some 120%, and May 2022 in particular is already up by more than 150%.’
There will be a ‘strong summer business in tourism this year’ if coronavirus rules are relaxed, Mr Joussen said.
‘The prospects of this are at least good in the United Kingdom’, he added.
Tui revealed it plans to close 48 more retail stores in the UK, stating that the travel industry and the high street ‘are both facing unprecedented pressure’.
This came after it announced in July 2020 that 166 shops closed due to the virus crisis would not reopen, which was nearly a third of its total.