Comment: Vaccination progress gives hope for 2021

Testing infrastructure in Spain and UK means summer will positive, says Nacho Gozalbo, commercial director for Palladium Hotel Group

Given the evolution of the pandemic in recent weeks, we did not experience traditional peaks in early January.

However, we are more confident in late bookings and we are anticipating strong sales periods in April and May.

In terms of booking trends, our two most popular properties for the UK market continue to be Hard Rock Hotel Tenerife and Grand Palladium Palace Ibiza Resort & Spa. Both are large, five-star properties providing extensive space and services for guests.

We learnt a great deal in 2020 and feel optimistic that the vaccine is being rolled out both in the UK and in Spain, so restrictions can be relaxed and travel can resume this year.

The UK travelling public is very resilient and we know there is a huge amount of demand for holidays to both the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands. Given the proximity of the islands, the UK flight connections, the infrastructure and the knowledge of the destination, we feel very confident that we will have a positive summer season.

We are also lucky to have a very loyal travel agent following in the UK.

Despite the circumstances, these agents have continued to drive bookings for Palladium which we are very grateful for. Likewise, many of our guests are repeat bookers and are loyal to our brand.

The rate of re-bookings from 2020 remains high, which means we move into 2021 in a strong and stable position.

Regarding the new requirements for testing on arrival to the UK, it is understandable that the UK needs to prevent any new strains of the virus arriving in the country and focus on getting the health situation under control. So we understand the reasons for the current closure of all travel corridors.

This is also currently a requirement in Spain for high-risk countries (based on the Covid rate). We have excellent health infrastructure in the destinations that we operate in, and we do not foresee any logistical issues with UK visitors accessing tests.  Likewise, Palladium Hotel Group has invested in its own medical insurance for hotel guests to provide even more confidence for our visitors.

Tourism is a huge part of the Spanish economy, particularly in the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands – and we know that enabling tourism to continue in a safe way will be an important priority for all, including the local authorities. This will include the necessary infrastructure for testing and ensuring this is an affordable option.

The biggest challenge in 2020 was the ongoing uncertainty.

Of course, we have put in place a number of new health and safety measures in our properties and we are able to respond quickly to new measures and regulations. We also have contingency plans to protect the business. Having said that, the vaccine developments and our long and strong relationship with the UK market gives us optimism for the year ahead.

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