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Historic long-haul volumes ‘unlikely to return until 2023’

Historic sales volumes of long-haul holidays are unlikely to return to the market until 2023, Travel Weekly’s Future of Travel Spring Travel Forum was told.

Speaking on a panel, Kuoni product director Claire Ross said that while 2022 sales were strong there was a “definite lag” in sales of Asia destinations due to slower reopenings post-Covid.

She said the lifting of entry restrictions to Thailand had been key to unlocking bookings to the region but stressed it would take time for the long-haul market to recover fully.


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Gallery: Travel Weekly Future of Travel: Spring Forum


She said; “At the start of the year it was a bit worrying. What we are seeing now is the world opening up and everyone returning and telling positive stories.

“Thailand [reopening] is a positive story. We have immediately seen bookings coming back but I think it will take until 2023 to come back to the historic volumes because there is not quite enough of the world open.”

Kuoni’s stores had helped to sell long-haul destinations, she added. “We have to give complex advice and the challenge is that not all destinations are open. It’s where our stores are coming into their own.”

Despite a rapid return in demand, there were also still “challenges around scheduling stability”, she said, adding: “In terms of our growth we are up versus 2019. Demand has come back very quickly but we are still gearing up.”

Norwegian Cruise Line vice president Eamonn Ferrin, speaking on the panel, echoed Ross’ comments, adding that difficulties entering certain long-haul destinations, such as Malaysia, had suppressed demand.

He said: “Some people are cautious about travelling. There is a fear; am I going to be quarantined?“

But he remained upbeat, adding the situation was constantly changing and “moving in the right direction”.

He added: “The market has been recovering strongly. We are seeing huge pent up demand. Every month is better than the previous month, which is encouraging. Our bookings for 2023 are ahead of 2019. Our prices are significantly ahead so we are very bullish about where this is going.”

MoreFirms must ‘offer flexibility but have eyes open’ to retain staff

Supplier call wait times will hamper trade’s recovery says TTNG chief

Gallery: Travel Weekly Future of Travel: Spring Forum

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