Following the tragic terrorist attacks in Brussels, Ankara and Istanbul earlier this month, travel companies are becoming increasingly concerned about the risk of further terror attacks. Families and individuals have grown more cautious about where they are spending their holidays due to the numerous attacks that have occurred over the past year.
The share prices of groups such as Thomas Cook and EasyJet have declined sharply since the start of this year. Therefore, there is more pressure on travel companies to secure critical spring and summer bookings. Thomas Cook reported a 5 per cent drop in summer bookings from last year, and the British tour operator has suffered particularly marked falls in demand for trips to Turkey. Data from GfK shows that summer bookings to Turkey have fallen 32 per cent; a sharp contrast with growth of 11 per cent that was experienced last year.
Thomas Cook recently revealed that there has been a “marked shift in demand, with significantly lower bookings than last year to Turkey, and higher bookings to Spain, other European and major long haul destinations (including the USA and Cuba)”. Indeed, summer bookings to Spain’s Costa del Sol were up 26 per cent at the start of the month, according to data from GfK. Greg Johnson, travel and leisure analyst at Shore Capital, says “People across the world want to travel [and] the relative cost of travelling is falling . . . but the tour operators need a pick-up in demand in Turkey to deliver their numbers”. Despite cancelling agreements with various Turkish hotels, Thomas Cook has still only filled 750,000 beds in own-brand hotels; their capacity is around 2 million.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, it takes 13 months, on average, for visitor numbers to recover following a terrorist attack. When compared with the average 21.3 months recovery period following a disease outbreak, this suggests that demand recovers more quickly after terror attacks than after other crises. Nonetheless, the sector has struggled this year with the high frequency of attacks across the globe.