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February 25, 2021
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Rebuilding travel: 5 measures that will allow you to travel (almost) for free

Highlights from the measures adopted in different parts of the world:

 

  • Local authorities are paying for extra accommodation and offer free entrance to museums and archeological sites (Sicily, Italy)
  • Beach resorts are offering free beach access and amenities (Bulgaria)
  • Italy, Japan, UK might pay their citizens to spend holidays inside the country
  • Airlines offer cheap miles (American Airlines) and announce a fare war
  • New Zealand is endorsing 4-day week to encourage domestic travel

 

People will travel, as long as they are allowed to. But closer destinations, shorter durations and various restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic mean travel will be quite different this year, a recent study made by luggagehero.com reveals.  Surveys* show that domestic travel will be in focus for this year. But there are regions where the income produced by the non-local tourism sector is very hard to replace. Because of that, some destinations are getting creative in attracting travelers by offering monetary and other incentives.

Here are some ways destinations are luring potential travelers.

 

Tourist regions might offset accommodation costs

 

Manlio Messina – Councilor for Tourism in Sicily announced an initiative to encourage travel to the popular Italian island. If international travelers book 2 nights they would get a third free. A 6-night booking would entitle them to 2 extra nights for free.

A similar measure was announced on the other side of the ocean, in Cancún, Mexico. The entire marketing strategy is built around the number “2”, with many hotels and other tourist operators joining together to launch an enticing plan. Some examples include getting 2 nights free for a 2-night booking or a free stay for 2 children when 2 adults book accommodation. The rental cars sector is also part of the project, offering 2 days free for a 2-day reservation.

Another worldwide trend is expected in regards to short term rentals (especially Airbnb and Booking etc). As they were severely impacted by the worldwide lockdowns, many owners or property managers will need to recoup losses. This will likely lead to incredible offers, especially in the first months after lockdowns. Premium accommodations are expected to be rented much cheaper than before, to incentivize demand. Luggage storage businesses like LuggageHero, directly connected to this part of the market, are also offering discounts to help travelers enjoy cities hassle-free.

 

Countries might pay for flights

 

The Japan Tourism Agency announced the Go to Travel Campaign that might start in July, which would subsidize a part of domestic travel expenses. The measure is being taken into consideration as a boost to domestic travel, which took a hard hit after postponing the Olympics until 2021 and expanding travel restrictions for about 70 nationalities. Government data showed a 99.9 percent year-on-year decrease for April, with only 2,900 foreigners estimated to have traveled in Japan.

Sicily also is considering paying half the airfares for tourists spending their holidays in Italian territories, as the sector is representing 13% of the country’s GDP and the government is trying to save as much as possible after the difficult lockdowns.

Greece plans to cut the Value Added Tax (VAT) or Goods and Services Tax (GST) on modes of transport, which means flights, buses and trains will be cheaper.

As a way to rebuild trust, the Cyprus government plans to reimburse the travel costs to any tourist who tests positive for coronavirus after visiting the country, which should bring extra insurance to travelers and increase travel demand.

 

..or they will offer time for traveling

The New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern encouraged business owners and managers to think more about work flexibility by offering 4-day workweeks with 3-day weekends. This would be a great opportunity for people to travel more, be more productive and finally help rebuild the economy through domestic tourism.

 

Empty middle seats and cheap airline miles

As an extra safety measure, many airlines are keeping the middle seat empty, but it is certain that this extra space cannot last for long periods of time due to the extreme financial impact. However, Delta Airlines says it will continue to block middle seats bookings through September 30, and when it comes to two-by-two seats aircrafts, some aisle seats will be kept unoccupied. JetBlue will also block middle seats until at least July 6 and American Airlines will allow passengers at check-in to not board if a flight is full, but wait for a less crowded one.

European theme parks are thinking the same way, with The Europa-Park in Germany keeping every second seat of rides empty, besides other rules set for safely resuming operations.

Regarding miles purchasing, many companies dropped prices or offered extra bonuses in order to leverage sales during such critical liquidity shortages. In April, one could have bought one mile with 1.6 cents at American Airlines, while in May, Alaska Airlines offered a 60% bonus, bringing the mile cost at 1.72 cents. Air Canada began selling miles in May for 1 cent (a 10M batch) and then raising the cost to 1.1 cents per mile for another 100 million batch. Afterward, the mile price would be 1.3 cents.

Moreover, the first phases of tourism rebuilding will mean that travel operators will focus more on winning customers than on counting profits – Ryanair Group chief executive already announced a fare war for stimulating demand. Low-cost carriers will fight to build trust among potential tourists as quickly as possible, which should bring below-cost sales and almost free rides.

 

Free entries and amenities

Bulgaria is known for its budget-friendly beach resorts, but travelers will be able to spend even less during the 2020 summer season, as many beaches will have free entry and other free amenities like umbrellas and sun loungers.

Sicily is also offering free entries to various museums and archeological sites, including the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento and the Villa Romana del Casale.

 

 

 

 

 

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