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Southern Europe sees demand return as borders reopen

Southern Europe sees demand return as borders reopen

ForwardKeys has revealed that a series of announcements by governments of southern European countries has triggered an almost immediate jump in international flight bookings for Greece, Portugal and Spain in July and August.

The destinations are keen to welcome tourists for the summer season.

“For most of April and May, the aviation market has been in a state of suspended animation with almost nobody booking anything,” said Olivier Ponti, vice president, insights, ForwardKeys.

However, in the fourth week of May, things started to change.

On May 20th, Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, said the country would open its doors to foreign tourists from July 1st.


Two days later, Portugal’s foreign minister, Augusto Santos Silva, announced that its border would reopen on June 15th; and the following day, Spain followed suit.

Pedro Sánchez, Spain’s prime minister, said that the country would reopen for foreign tourism from July.
Markets reacted immediately.

From May 20th-June 3rd, the number of international flight tickets issued for Greece, increased from effectively zero to 35 per cent of what they were during the same period in 2019.

Similar figures were seen for Portugal over the period, while Spain saw bookings return to 30 per cent of where they were this time last year.

A closer analysis by type of traveller reveals that there has been a very similar pattern of recovery in all destinations.

Leisure travellers account for the bulk of new tickets; but recovery has been stronger amongst expats and people visiting friends and relatives.

In that niche, air tickets to Greece, Portugal, and Spain, reached 89, 87 and 54 per cent of 2019 levels respectively.

Ponti added: “When governments tell people they are again allowed to travel, bookings immediately start to come back.

“However, given that there should be strong pent up demand for holidays in southern Europe in July and August, the relatively low booking levels, compared to 2019, suggest that many people are still reluctant to fly.”