Spotlight on Europe - Edition 2
21 July 2021
It has been three months since your last update. What recent changes are impacting life in the Continental Europe now?
The situation and mood have changed significantly since the last up-date in late March from our part of the world and that change has been for the better. COVID-19 case numbers have dropped significantly since that time and vaccination rates have increased quite dramatically. In Germany, 47 per cent of the population are fully vaccinated and more than 60 per cent of the population have received at least one dose which has significantly reduced the numbers of hospitalisations and people dying from or with COVID-19. These figures are comparable to France and Italy. This has significantly boosted morale and consumer confidence in our markets and has allowed new freedoms or reinstated some of what used to be the norm in our countries.
Specifically, this means that a European health certificate has been introduced and approved allowing European Union citizens to travel freely between countries, restaurants and hotels are finally able to welcome patrons, schools have opened again for full classes ahead of the summer breaks and many of us have returned to working partially from our offices. Face to face meetings are taking place again, limited numbers of fans were allowed to follow the matches of the European Soccer Championship, cinemas, museums and other cultural institutions provide much needed distractions.
School summer holidays have started across many of our European countries. This is traditionally a time of travel and they were eagerly awaited to allow families to seek time to relax and recharge after many months of lockdown and restrictions. Whilst most people decided to spend their holiday either in their home country or in neighbouring European countries, those long-haul destinations open for business equally saw bookings come in the minute travel was authorised. Pent up travel demand is huge, and travellers are willing to adapt to the current set of travel regulations.
What is the general sentiment within the Continental Europe tourism industry?
The general travel industry noticed an immediate desire to book summer holidays when travel restrictions were eased, and more and more countries had their government’s travel warnings amended or lifted. That said, there are constant changes to entry regulations and rules on the ground due to changing COVID-19 numbers in popular travel destinations. This leads to confusion and a reluctance to commit to any booking with long lead times, making life hard for the travel industry. Domestic tourism in Germany, France and Italy will still be the most popular summer holiday choice for families.
Long-haul tourism operators more specifically are still waiting for most destinations to announce border opening dates and entry conditions, and in the meantime have become more diversified in their product and destination offering. The most anticipated route opening is the North America route and Canada has just announced entry for fully vaccinated travellers from early September. As the types of travellers and travel style are comparable for Europeans travelling to Canada or Australia, it will be interesting to see which booking levels this will produce.
Our very loyal and long-standing partners for destination Australia are increasingly having to divert their business to other destinations in order to be able to survive. Our buyer attendance figures at ATE Online were very high and showed that there is continued interest in our destination mixed. However, there is a strong desire to understand the exact parameters and timing around a border opening for international visitors from our markets better.
Much like our colleagues around the world, we have had to make the tough assumption that travel restrictions between the Continental Europe and Australia are likely to remain in place until mid-next year. This means that across all our markets we will continue to keep the Australian dream alive by a always-on, content led marketing approach.
In France, we are partnering with the Australian Embassy on the “Australia Now” initiative which is an initiative to bring France and Australia closer together across various sectors including tourism. We are showcasing Australia’s food offering during the Food Temple Festival in Paris in September through masterclasses and tasting events before celebrating Australia at the prestigious Paris department store BHV in February 2022. PR and media relations are continuing to play a major part in telling the Australian story across our three markets.
In recent times, we had a major content burst across all our markets with two dedicated Australia content specials in Germany through Merian – 200 x Australien and the online travel special on geo.de, both of which were conducted in partnership with our state and territory tourism partners. We ran a series of content initiatives around the bushfire recovery in Germany, France and Italy and received some beautiful media coverage on bush food, Aboriginal dot painting classes, tourism experiences and conscious travel.
The Distribution team is continuing to keep our partners engaged with events and recruiting more Aussie Specialists through our online training program, focusing on the launch of Aussie Specialist 2.0 and live training events with our partners in market.
And finally, please share your top three reasons why you believe the Australian industry should stay in touch with Continental Europe this year?
1. The Continental European traveller is keen to return to Australia and will continue to disperse widely, stay longer, and spend more money while in Australia. There are trends around even longer staying trips to minimise the impact on the environment and Australia is the perfect destination for longer trips across all segments including youth.
2. We need our Australian industry partners’ help to keep the connection with and passion for Australia alive in an environment where sales are possible to other destinations. This helps to keep Australia alive with our in-market tourism stakeholders.
3. There is a lot of very tangible pent-up demand and a desire to book. We need our travel trade informed on the latest developments and news, fired up to be able to sell and feeling the love from Australia.