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despite Omicron, early bookings are making a comeback

Reassured by the easing of health restrictions, some travelers are again preparing their summer stays in advance. But they seem to prefer closer destinations. Decryption.

Buying your stay more than six months in advance has become perilous since the start of the pandemic. Everything is good to avoid the risk of seeing the long-awaited vacation ruined at the last minute by contamination or a travel ban. But travelers seem to have regained confidence in recent weeks. “We felt a thrill with Jean Castex’s announcements on January 20 on the lifting of health restrictionssays Nicolas Hénin, deputy general manager of sales and marketing for the airline Transavia. Stalled in December and early January, the purchase of flights in July and August has increased in the past two weeks. Over the previous seven days, we are 10% more than in 2019. And this increase is increasing day by day.”

Same observation at TUI with its “early booking” operation, offers generally offered until March by tour operators to encourage customers to book in advance. Called “Primos” at TUI, it also allows customers to postpone their trip free of charge up to 30 days before departure and this year generated more than double the bookings of 2021 among French customers.

Like the tour operator, most players make sure to reassure us with flexible cancellation conditions. Thus, two years after the start of the health crisis, Airbnb has just announced a support program for travelers forced to cancel their stay due to government measures. When the cancellation policy chosen by the host does not allow for a full refund, Airbnb will provide assistance in the form of a travel voucher equal to 50% of the unrefunded amount of the reservation.

Towards four-season tourism?

As for French campsites, the figures are less spectacular for the summer period. “On a representative panel of 2000 establishments, the reservations recorded from September to January for the months of July and August are the same as for the summer of 2020”, explains Nicolas Dayot, president of the National Federation of Outdoor Hotels (FNHPA). But this is not the case with spring and the off-season. Bookings for April, June and September are up 50%, 25% and 75% respectively. “The Covid, by the need it has created to get some fresh air, to leave more often and to leave the cities, could cause a momentum towards what is called four-season tourism, even dares to hope for Nicolas Dayot. Maybe even permanently…»

The increase in reservations at Gîtes de France, a network of tourist accommodation with 52,000 addresses, is also more significant if we look at the year as a whole. “Over the summer period alone, to date we are at 15% more reservations compared to 2019 and +20% compared to 2021says Solange Escure, director of the national federation of Gîtes de France, but on 2022 as a whole, the increase in reservations is 25% compared to January 2019, and 50% compared to January 2021“.

France and Europe above all

Crete, in Greece, a destination that continues to attract many French people. Laurent Fabre / Le Figaro Magazine

Summer reservations are resuming, but not just anywhere. Most often not too far. It’s about traveling in the most reassuring conditions possible. France and Europe have remained favored destinations for holidaymakers for two years. And the trends observed since the pandemic seem to be confirmed: rural areas are prolonging their success. “The great classics such as Brittany, Vaucluse, Normandy or the Basque Country remain in high demand, but since the Covid-19, there is a better distribution. The occupancy rate is smoother throughout France“, details Solange Escure.

AirDNA, a data analysis company in the tourist furnished rental sector which gathers information from more than 850,000 rental accommodations in France, has for its part observed a jump in reservations for the summer of 2022 in recent weeks. The increase reached +45% in reservations for the months of July and August compared to the same date in 2021.

At TUI France, Greece is the best-selling destination for the summer of 2022. It alone represents 40% of medium-haul sales. Next in order are Spain, Italy, France and Portugal. However, there are a few exceptions. For René-Marc Chikli, president of the Syndicate of tour operating companies, certain destinations outside Europe will be able to attract many holidaymakers. Like the Dominican Republic, which has a good chance of maintaining its status as a major summer destination: “It is one of the few countries where there has been no “stop and go(vback and forth between closing and reopening, editor’s note)and who has a good amount of trust.“But according to him, the French are still in doubt, and the anticipation has not yet made a comeback. Sign that despite everything, the Covid has not finished blurring the future of travelers.

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