Travel agencies

RTL 5minutes – Union of Travel Agencies: 2021 another bad year for travel agencies, says ULAV president

The president of the Luxembourg Travel Agency, Fernand Heinisch, told RTL he expected the impact of the pandemic on the travel industry to last until 2023, while the agencies will have to adapt to the new climate.

Despite vaccine hopes, 2021 has not been a good year for the travel industry.

The year has seen many ups and downs, Heinisch said, as it started out catastrophically, but picked up between May and October before business started to decline again. The average turnover of a travel agency is around 50% of its counterpart in 2019.

Heinisch explained that some agencies were worse off than others: agencies specializing in business travel, for example, had seen their turnover fall by 80% compared to the figures for 2019. Cruises or More distant destinations have seen declines of between 80% and 85%, while group travel has also fallen significantly. Despite this, 2021 has been slightly better than 2020 overall, although still far from what it takes to revive the industry.

It remains to be seen whether travel agencies will bounce back, Heinisch said. The financial assistance offered by the government has helped to keep them afloat, but the huge financial losses caused by the pandemic could take years to recover, he added. Some agencies could close or reorganize, depending on how the situation unfolds over the next year.
ULAV asked the government to extend its financial support for another six months, after which the agencies would have to make their own way.

Heinisch explained that they had advised members to reinvent themselves or work on alternative business plans, but would need a grace period of around six months to allow it. The group expects the first few months of 2022 to be difficult again, with hopes of a recovery once the weather improves in the spring.

Despite the development of the crisis, people will continue to travel if possible during the holidays, added Heinisch. However, a number of planned trips to places like Austria or Germany have been canceled due to the strict restrictions in place. Likewise, the Netherlands, which has entered a full lockdown, has seen a number of trips canceled. Despite this, the majority of trips to sunny destinations will go as planned.

Heinisch said he expects 2022 to see more travel to Europe or to nearby destinations. More distant destinations are unlikely to experience a resurgence until at least 2023 or 2024, when he hopes the pandemic will be better controlled with vaccines and treatments.