Travel – Vacation 2021: Let’s get away, but how?
The people want out, that is the essence of the statistical data available on the Austrians’ travel plans. However, one would have to add: “How, you don’t know yet”, as the current pandemic measures are blocking international travel. And how exactly it will continue is not yet known.
Therefore, only a quarter of all those keen to travel in this country are sure that they will travel this year. More than a third want to leave, but don’t know how, and a further good third “definitely doesn’t” want to travel this year, according to the Institute for Leisure and Tourism Research in a current representative survey. Institute director Peter Zellmann recommends taking a particularly close look at the cancellation conditions when traveling this year.
In an interview with the “Wiener Zeitung”, traffic office spokeswoman Andrea Hansal confirms the survey findings: “We keep getting booking inquiries, people want to leave, but there are still so many question marks.”
Early bird or late decision maker
According to Hansal, early bird packages are already in high demand, if only because of the likely shortage of air traffic. Many people who wish to travel fear that they will no longer be able to get a seat on the plane of their choice, as the airlines have cut their capacities significantly.
However, that can change quickly, as happened in summer 2020. After the relaxation of the travel restrictions, there were additional flights quite quickly. You might have to accept a stopover, but those who wanted found a way. The popular direct flight to the beach remains in short supply in such turbulent times.
Tourism expert Hansal expects air travel to be booked at short notice this year. This is confirmed by the survey results: 57 percent of those willing to travel do not yet know when they will actually book their trip, 37 percent will book later this year when it is clear what the rules will be.
In any case, the “bathtub destinations” are in vogue, as Hansal laughingly describes it. This refers to the Mediterranean countries, especially Greece – if arriving by plane is possible.
If you travel by car, Croatia, Slovenia and Italy occupy top positions in terms of demand in the Ruefa travel agencies of the Verkehrsbüro Group and in terms of offers via Hofer Reisen, which is supported by the group subsidiary Eurotours.
Security, service, cancellation, the package tour is back
In any case, the joy of booking currently depends to a large extent on flexible cancellation options. “Cancel one to two weeks before the start of your trip and without giving a reason, that is crucial this year,” confirms Hansal. This is also specifically asked for when making bookings. Hansal: “Security, service, cancellation, these are the topics for summer 2021!”
The disputes over canceled flights, refused ticket refunds by the airlines, uncertain return travel arrangements – the summer of 2020 has left its mark.
Due to the many uncertainties, one that has long since been declared dead is likely to celebrate its comeback: the package tour. However, this does not mean the mass offerings of an organizer, emphasizes the tourist office spokeswoman. Rather, it is about individually compiled travel modules, for example from the flight to the hotel to the rental car. “The advantage here is that, as a travel agency, we are the point of contact for all eventualities. This is a real argument, especially when the general conditions are as uncertain as this year,” she emphasizes.
In the pre-Corona years, travel agencies had to accept a sharp decline in business due to online offers. The convenience of online booking was too tempting, the offers too cheap, and the journey to the travel agency too far. But it goes on, emphasizes Hansal, even under these difficult conditions. “We tourism professionals are an optimistic bunch of people, we got up again and again. Our business is the world. The freedom of travel is currently gone, so you go on vacation like in the 1970s.” Andrea Hansal also sees this as an opportunity to be able to score more points with quality advice and service. Summer 2021 will be difficult, but: “We are prepared, we are in the starting blocks.”
Travel with an additional pass –
green, mobile or QR code
So that travel is even possible this year, an EU-wide solution for vaccination and test certificates is currently being used politically. The current state of affairs is the verification via QR code, which can be presented on the mobile phone or on paper. It should be ready by June 1st. However, the issue of data security is crucial. – But where there is a (political) will, there is also a way.