Since the end of last summer, British bookings for Majorca have been constantly on the rise and now there are hardly any vacancies left for peak season. UK travel agents and industry experts have this week been talking of Majorca being nearly sold out. Hoteliers who still have some vacancies are asking top dollar for last-minute contracts and that means that last-minute bookers are going to be facing paying a very high price to come to Majorca this year, especially when it comes to the family market.
Trade analysts GfK have warned that families who delay booking their summer holiday could be priced out of the market to Spain and other destinations perceived as “safe”. GfK business group director David Hope issued the warning at a travel industry seminar in London organised by Barclays and accountancy firm MacIntyre Hudson. Hope issued “a note of caution” despite insisting that “bookings are looking good”.
He told the seminar: “The top five destinations account for 64% of all (summer 2016) bookings to date. Can these destinations take up the shortfall from Turkey, Tunisia and Egypt which accounted for 20% of bookings last year.” Hope reported bookings to Turkey 40% down year on year from the UK while sales to the Canary Islands were 33% up to the end of January, the Balearics 19% up and mainland Spain 36% up. Portugal and the Caribbean have also seen substantial increases along with Cyprus and Italy.
Hope said: “We either need a hell of a lot more product for these markets or it [the market] is going to come to saturation. Then what are we going to sell in the late period? Will families which haven’t yet booked be priced out?” He reported the average sales price (ASP) for seven nights all-inclusive in Portugal this summer was up £37 per person or almost 7% for the season to January and up £91 or 10% for 14 nights, although prices to Spain this summer show less of an increase with the ASP up just 2% to the end of January.
Hope said: “It’s a positive position amid uncertainty. Consumer confidence is high and cumulative bookings reflect that. But can the destinations perceived as safe continue to grow? Do they have enough accommodation? If not, what will tour operators offer? Consumers need educating that prices will not be there for the usual destinations.”
Season-to-date bookings for summer 2016 were up 6% year on year to the end of January following a 2% rise on January 2015 in the month with package sales leading the way. Industry consultant Andy Cooper told the seminar: “Spain is going to have a particularly good summer. But travel agents face a fundamental issue. There won’t be much left to sell in the late market.”