After two years of crisis, summer 2022 will go down in history as the season of the great revival of foreign travel. The holiday plans of many Belgians could finally continue again. TUI, the largest tour operator in the country, records 70% more travellers who booked a flight holiday compared to summer 2021. Quite contrary to the trend in other European markets, however, the Belgian booked his trip very late: four out of ten bookings for the months of July and August were only made after 15 June, despite the significant disadvantage of having to choose from a scarcer offer. In addition, last-minute promotions in popular destinations were very scarce. The high temperatures clearly did not deter the traveller, because the top destinations Spain, Greece and Turkey experienced another peak season, as in 2019. Although the traveller is increasingly finding his way online, the trend of the past two years in which the travel agent acted much more often as an intermediary with knowledge and experience, was confirmed again this summer.
After the 2 difficult summers of 2020 and 2021, TUI, the largest travel organisation in Belgium, can confirm with strong figures that the wanderlust among Belgians is back. For the departure months of July and August, TUI noted a 53% increase in the number of holidaymakers compared to last summer and no less than 70% more Belgians booked a flight holiday. This brilliant achievement is the result of a greatly increased confidence, a much wider range of products due to the reopening of the non-European destinations and the removal of almost all restrictions. Due to the slightly lower number of scheduled flights, the figure for the top summer of 2019 was just not reached.
Due to the uncertain climate surrounding travel, a trend has emerged during the corona crisis to book very close to the date of departure. Although this risk is no longer an issue this year, this trend has not been broken: no less than 40% of bookings were made after 15 June, just a few weeks to a few days before departure. Many last-minute bookers were surprised to find that most of their preferred hotels were now fully booked. The European market, with the important British market in the lead, has responded much more quickly to current events this year, when hopeful signals came in mid-January that corona would not leave a mark on the summer holidays. From the most popular holiday regions such as the Greek Islands, the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands and the Costa del Sol, the first reports followed a few weeks later, mainly from family hotels that were sold out for the summer. Travellers should certainly not count on nice last-minute promotions. As a result, the average budget for a last-minute flight holiday this year was 26% higher than during the same period in 2019: €1248 versus €987.
Neither the high temperatures in their own country nor the heat waves in the Mediterranean prevented Belgians from moving south and relaxing in a hotel or resort right by the sea or with good infrastructure in terms of swimming pools and slides. These accommodations were by far the most popular and therefore the fastest booked up.
In terms of destinations, the Belgian again opted for the classics: a third flew to Spain, followed by the Greek islands with 22% of the bookings. Turkey made a strong comeback, welcoming 17% of the travellers. The Turkish Riviera (Antalya), known for its very high-quality all-in hotels with an excellent price-quality ratio, was also by far the most popular holiday destination in the entire range. With a load factor of more than 95%, the flights of TUI fly were again very well filled this summer.
Car holidays also had an excellent season. TUI records 38% more travellers than last summer. The traditional top destinations are back here too: France remains the undisputed top country with 35% of bookings. Austria follows with 20% and Tyrol is even the top region for car holidays. Spain follows with 18%. As with the air holidays, the destinations for car holidays were fully booked much faster than usual and there were hardly any last-minute discounts. Here too, the average budget per person is, therefore, higher: €542 per person compared to €446 in 2019.
With regard to city trips, the southern cities of Rome, Barcelona, ??Valencia and Lisbon invariably remain in the top 5. The frontrunner this summer was Paris, which continues to steal market share from eternal competitor London, which has become less accessible due to Brexit.
The travel office, a highly valued link to which travellers could turn with all questions during the uncertain corona period, has also maintained its strong position this summer. Two out of three travellers called on the professional service of their travel agent, although more and more bookers first looked up their favourite holiday on the TUI.be website. Making and processing the booking online is the most efficient option for 35% of customers.
Top 5 flying holidays (countries): Spain, Greece, Turkey, Tunisia, Egypt.
Top 5 flying holidays (regions): Turkish Riviera, Mallorca, Tenerife, Crete, Rhodes.
Top 5 car holidays (countries): France, Austria, Spain, Germany, Italy
Top 5 car holidays (regions): Tyrol, Costa Brava, Languedoc-Roussillon, Lake Garda, Costa Dorada.
Top 5 city trips: Paris, Rome, Barcelona, ??Valencia, Lisbon.