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Travel agencies expect ‘full recovery of activity’ despite inflation

Concerns about sector as economic context does not match "number of bookings"

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22 June 2022 03:44 PM

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ACN | Barcelona

Traveling could reach a new milestone during 2022’s summer with thousands of Catalans leaving the territory and thousands of visitors coming to spend some days. The historic moment has been highly awaited as a "full recovery of activity" moment for the travel agency association (ACAVE).

After surveying around 450 travel operators, the agency announced that around 60% of its members hope to equal or surpass the number of bookings in 2019. This year's expectations are "really positive" and "unforeseen" as the Covid-19 Omicron variant was an alarming reminder.

Despite the potential good results, ACAVE’s president Jordi Martí is concerned about the high volume of bookings

"It is a sector bubble," he said during a press conference on Wednesday. "There is no possible economical explanation to explain the elevated number of reservations," Martí added.

Inflation and the war in Ukraine have started to slow down the level of bookings, which could end up transforming into last-minute decisions. Out of ACAVE’s agencies, 47% of them have felt the impact of the eastern European conflict, while 35% have seen a decrease because of inflation. 

"It will be a complicated winter," after the current "boom," Jordi Martí expected. People wanted to "leave" after the last two years, and a lot of them "already had trips and some savings, and once the moment arrived, they did not want stop traveling," he added.

The Balearic and Canary Islands are still the favorite national destination for Spaniards, while internationally, this year, travelers are crossing the pond. The United States, mainly because borders have been reopened recently, is the most demanded destination abroad. Other countries include the Middle East or the coast, some islands, and European capitals

Labor shortages

Returning to pre-pandemic levels has not been easy and the speed recovery has seen labor shortages across Europe, including Catalonia. Around 38% of ACAVE’s members already have problems when finding new professionals.

However, with the sector in a good situation, the vast majority of companies have already left the furloughed schemes they had applied for. Still, ACAVE estimates there are around 3,700 workers (6% of the staff) still furloughed

In fact, labor shortages have been one of the problems in some European airports. Chaos at the beginning of the summer vacation season prompted airlines and handling companies that operate out of Barcelona's El Prat to ask workers to relocate to places like Schiphol (the Netherlands) or Gatwick (United Kingdom).

Other inconveniences travelers may find are several strikes called for the last weekend of June and during some weekends of July. Several unions have called on the Easyjet and the Ryanair cabin crew to stop working for some days.

The situation will "for sure" affect the sector and ACAVE regrets these strikes arrive during a "recovery" moment for the travel industry. 

"We have said it will be a good summer, but it does not mean a peaceful one, as we can have problems like these ones," Jordi Martí explained referring to the airlines' workers’ strikes.  

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  • Passengers in Barcelona airport T2B carrying suitcases on May 24, 2022 (by Gemma Sánchez)

  • Passengers in Barcelona airport T2B carrying suitcases on May 24, 2022 (by Gemma Sánchez)

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