Airbnb says Europeans are looking for alternative destinations for their escapes, leading to an increase in bookings for Belgium and Germany while the EU prepares a Covid vaccination certificate to facilitate travel across the block.
The short-term rental provider said the number of customers in the EU looking to stay in other countries in Europe was up a third in the week to May 24, compared to the same week in 2019.
Belgium had the biggest jump in interest, with research climbing 31 percent, followed by Germany, which was up 28 percent compared to 2019 levels, and France up 15 percent.
Airbnb said that in the week to May 22, searches for people in EU member states were at their highest levels since the pandemic began, in a sign of consumer confidence that vaccinations and evidence will cause the pandemic to recede.
“We are in preparation for what we believe will be the return of the century’s journey but the journeys will look different,” said Emmanuel Marill, Airbnb’s regional director for Europe. “Europeans visit more places, stay longer and are more flexible when they leave.”
Data from Airbnb bookings by analytics firm AirDNA show that consumers are also opting for more luxurious stays thanks to high levels of savings accumulated during closures and the desire to compensate for the holidays lost by the pandemic.
The demand for luxury accommodation, representing the top 15 percent of their listed properties by price, it had recovered to 87 per cent from 2019 levels in March this year, while demand for budget stays was only 51 per cent.
Airbnb said bookings for accommodation it classified as “unique,” such as trolls in Italy or castles in Spain, had increased by 94 percent in the four months to the end of April 2021 compared to the same period in 2019. Rural areas trumped urban destinations, he added, with places like Var in Provence being more reserved than Paris.
Trips to Europe have been much slower to recover than to the United States, which has had a faster vaccination launch and less tight blocks. In an attempt to increase travel around the blockchain, the European Council last week approved regulations for a Covid digital certificate to be developed that will show a person’s vaccination status or whether they have had a negative test result. .
The certificate must be put into effect by July 1 with a gradual introduction period of six weeks. The European Tourism Alliance has warned that member states should avoid delaying its introduction as “sectoral resilience is at its limit”.
Dana Dunne, executive director of eDreams Odigeo, Europe’s largest online travel provider, said that across the continent countries are starting to return to the booking level close to 2019, except the UK where, despite almost 60 per cent of the population had suffered at least one stroke, the government has introduced a strict system of traffic restrictions.
Dunne said that for travel companies this had made it “harder to understand what was going on” and had also led to “a high level of fear for the consumer”.