Russia-Ukraine war has limited impact on Europe vacation bookings
Jessica Griscavage, Runway Travel’s travel advisor says that luxury European trips booked by travelers haven’t been cancelled in the wake of the Ukraine conflict. Pictured, Grignan, France.
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How are Americans’ European holiday plans affected by the Russian invasion in Ukraine? It all depends on the person you ask. But, it seems that there is a middle ground between “not at any” and slightly.
Hopper from travel app noted a decrease in flights searches for the Continent in February along with a noticeable rise in airfares. However, one travel agent says that her clients have not shown a decline in their enthusiasm about booking European flights or departing Europe.
Jennifer Griscavage founded Runway Travel. This independent McCabe World Travel affiliate is based in McLean Virginia. Jennifer has been busy “very busy” booking European travel despite the conflict in Ukraine.
The biggest effect we’ve noticed is the concern over traveling to Russia and Ukraine, she stated. This was especially true for clients that booked “bucket lists” trips to St. Petersburg in Russia as part a Baltic Sea cruise.
Cruise lines had to cancel their stops in St. Petersburg. [so]”Most of our customers have moved these sailings up to 2023,” she said.
According to the European Travel Commission, this news doesn’t bode well for countries bordering Russia or Ukraine. They have already experienced larger declines in total visitors as a result of the pandemic. According to the ETC, there was an 81% drop in arrivals for Czech Republic compared with 2019. Next came Finland at -88% and Estonia at 77%. Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Estonia, Slovakia, Slovakia, -76%, Slovakia, -76%, Lithuania, and -74%.
The outlook may look brighter for those destinations further west. Runway Travel has a lot of wealthy clients and Europe remains a viable option, despite “some mild worries”. Griscavage stated that France, Greece, and Italy are all very popular.
Audrey Hendley is the president of Global Travel and Lifestyle Services for American Express. She stated that while these areas don’t represent major tourist destinations, American Express matches card members donations. The company donated $1,000,000 to aid efforts and furnished 1 million nights in hotels to refugees.
She said, “These aren’t large destinations for me.” She said, “However every destination is important. Every customer is important.”
Hopper researchers report a significant impact on Europe’s search demand and bookings in the week leading to and following Russia’s February 27th attack on Ukraine.
Their report states that “How is the Russia-Ukraine War Impacting Travel?,Flight searches for Europe are at 9% lower than expected due to the increased demand after the omicron surge. As omicron declined, bookings had started to rise in January to mid-February but are now back at levels that were seen at the start.
Adit Damodaran from Hopper, pricing analyst, said that “that’s not necessarily an important decline”.
It’s not that. [searches]Damodaran stated that the rate of growth had been steady, but it has tapered off and is now lower than we expected.
Hopper appears to have experienced less disruption from Covid’s invasion on his transatlantic reservations than Covid. Only 15% of those who purchased the “cancel for whatever reason” protection on their Europe travels exercised their rights to a refund in the face of the Pandemic. This is compared with 20% of app customers.
Damodaran stated that it could be possible for a large number of our travellers to travel to Western Europe. If they already have booked this trip, they may decide that they want to keep going.
He added, “But people who just consider booking are less hesitant.” “They are not planning to make any new reservations in Europe.”
Damodaran stated that travelers who don’t plan to travel to Europe are more likely postponing than actually booking alternative destinations. In a normal year Europe would account for 30% or nearly one-third of all our bookings. [and]It’s currently at 15%.” He said.
Hopper reported that although flight search and bookings may have dropped, airfares remain up. Month-over month, European fares are up 16% That might seem like a lot, but, according to Damodaran, the price of jet fuel rose 70% in 2021 in the wake of the pandemic — and then 30% again in the first three months of this year alone, going to $2.86 a gallon from $2.20, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
He said, “The enormity of the changes we have seen since 2022’s beginning has been enormous.” We expect an increase in the cost of jet fuel to affect airfare.
Domestic airfares in the United States have increased 36% from Jan. 1
Damodaran stated that “we usually expect that it will be closer to 7 to 8 percent in a more regular year like 2019”. The cost of jet fuel is often borne by airlines, who then have to bear the costs of paying for it.
Moscow’s aggression on Ukraine, and its impact on the global energy markets, could worsen an already dire situation.