“How is Life in Europe at the moment”? Eva Seller Speaks

Life in Europe continues to be an emotional rollercoaster. Most European countries are starting to come out of a particularly hard winter. Hard not only because of a particularly harsh cold spell and a lot of snow, but also from spending most of the late autumn and winter in various stages of lockdown which has meant that many industries have been unable to conduct their business in a profitable way for approximately 12 months. This means that in our three core markets, Germany, France and Italy, restaurants have either been closed for months or operating under severely reduced opening times. Non-essential shops remain either closed or have a ‘click and collect’ policy. Cultural, entertainment and sports facilities have also been unable to welcome visitors for quite some time. The lockdown has particularly affected the travel and hospitality industry as most governments strongly discourage travel. Whilst most European borders remain open, there are varying rules around quarantine and border entry requirements.

Many European countries are currently on the verge of a third COVID-19 wave and resulting in consumers and businesses being tired of an ever-changing set of rules, of contradictions within the rules and there is a distinct desire for a clear perspective out of the crisis. That said, vaccination programs have well and truly started across Germany, France and Italy and are expected to gain momentum after Easter when more vaccine doses become available. Currently in each of these three countries, approximately 12 per cent of the population has been vaccinated and it is expected that between late European summer and early autumn, each person wanting to be vaccinated, can be. There is ongoing debate on what entry rules will required on a valid vaccination document and this discussion is being followed across all walks of life and all countries.

As in most countries, savings are at an all-time high and people are eager to spend with travel being one of the categories that is much sought after. As soon as restrictions lift on any destination, for example Mallorca in Spain recently reopened, consumers start to book these destinations immediately. The same applies for long haul destinations easing entry requirements or opening borders without quarantine requirements. People have spent a lot of time at home or in the immediate vicinity of their homes, they are keen and willing to start travelling again.

Unemployment figures remain steady (between 4.6 per cent in Germany and roughly 9 per cent in Italy) and have not shown any significant changes for the past 12 months. Government support schemes continue to apply to businesses in most cases until the end of 2021. So, the overall economic conditions remain favourable to travel for our target audiences and the desire to have a change of scenery is at an all-time high. Consumers are prepared to commit to long lead times as long as booking conditions are flexible.

Source: Tourism Australia

A long-standing member of the Tourism Australia team, Eva Seller was appointed Regional General Manager, Continental Europe in 2012. Prior to this she was Marketing Manager.

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