The travel market is getting back on track

Over the past few weeks, we have seen more and more positive signs. Travel professionals saw the requests and reservations coming in. Promotional campaigns were launched. And Belgians showed in a latest travel intention survey by ABTO-GFK that they are actually planning to turn their travel dreams into actual travel plans in the next 12 months.

During the month of May, ABTO-GFK (the Association of Belgian Tour Operators) launched a new travel intention survey. This happened just after the travel ban was lifted. The results are therefore particularly relevant and provide a good picture of what Belgian holidaymakers are planning. We present some important conclusions from this research.

The desire to travel is high

Whereas 82% of Belgians said they would travel in the next 12 months before the crisis, that figure is now 76%. And most of them had not yet booked in May (when the survey was conducted). People are waiting and deciding to travel closer to the departure date and the destination also depends on the travel restrictions and possibilities of the moment.

Car still in the lead just like nearby destinations, but pursuers gain ground

The car (40%) is still the preferred means of transport. However, we are slowly seeing the aeroplane (37%) gaining ground as well. Until recently, Belgians generally chose to travel to neighbouring countries. France is still the most popular destination, but we see Spain, Italy and Greece gaining ground again. It shows that confidence has returned somewhat. This is also good for the organised travel industry, which has more to gain from a revival of flight destinations.

Organised or self-booking

Just because of the choice to stay closer to home and to travel more by car, you see that more than before Corona, people choose to organise their holidays themselves (from 58% to 60%). However, you would think that given today’s complexity and the risk that still exists, people would opt for the security of professional advice and the guarantees of the travel sector.

The peak shifts from July to September

For corona, July was the absolute peak month. Now, holidaymakers are heading out later. They follow the process of vaccinations and therefore wait a little longer until August or September (23%) to travel. So, everything is moving forward and bookings are being made much closer to the time of departure.

We all hope for a stable summer where the vaccinations continue to do their job. In any case, it is certain that locking up countries and travel even further is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain and defend. Today, Europe is opening up further. In many long haul destinations, tourism is still groaning and it is hoped that here too tourists will soon be welcome again.

Kris Van den Broeck


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