For those of us basking in our pools on our inflatable pineapples, watching the ‘planes silently streak overhead, travel seems to have returned. The same can be seen in the sector, with Fattal buying in Spain and Hostelworld reporting an improvement on 2019 levels.
But, as we reach for the barbecued meats, we can’t help but notice that there’s no mustard to be had. Hoarding, excess heat and the war in Ukraine have combined to mean that things may look the same, but they are slightly…less well condimented. Is the sector so focused on returning to 2019 it’s not prepared for current and future change?
But first to Fattal, where the group’s venture in Europe with institutional investors has signed an agreement with KKR which will see it add four hotels, and two apartment hotels from Alua chain, for €165.5m. When the deal is completed, Fattal will own 16 hotels in Spain.
Guy Vardi and Yaniv Amzaleg, who oversaw the transaction on behalf of Fattal, said: “This exciting acquisition reflects Fattal’s ability to identify strategic opportunities and complete transactions of significant scale with top-tier international sponsors and partners.
“It presents us with a rare opportunity to acquire a high-quality portfolio of assets, timed to capitalise on the potential for a near-term return to travel, as well as the hotels’ fantastic locations – which will remain in high demand for years to come.”
Also enjoying the near-term return to travel was Hostelworld, which reported that June 2022 net bookings reached 80% of June 2019 levels with net revenue at 104% of 2019 levels driven by higher average booking values. Top markets in Southern Europe exceeded 2019 levels.
Gary Morrison, group CEO, said: “I am encouraged by the positive indicators we report today across all of our key market segments which demonstrate the ability of our business model to capture pent-up customer demand as the travel market returns. Despite macro-economic uncertainties and recent disruption to airline schedules, I am very confident that we are well positioned to continue to capitalise on the travel recovery as we enter our key seasonal summer trading period.”
Spain is so committed to a profitable summer that it has dropped covid-19 precautions for the EU and eased them for the US. And in Majorca, The Express in the UK reports that hotel staff will be trained by police and visitors will have to sign a code of conduct as part of ongoing efforts to deal with rambunctious tourists.
So it’s all back to normal. But there’s still no mustard for the hot dogs.
Last week saw the UNWTO and OECD meet in Ibiza – just to stay ahead of trends – to discuss the lessons learned from the impact of the pandemic on international mobility and tourism, to build resilience to face future crises.
“The progress during these past two years, alongside increased coordination among governments, have prompted the basis for a strong recovery”, said UNWTO secretary-general, Zurab Pololikashvili. Underscoring that “vaccine equity remains a big challenge”, he stressed that “implementing what we have learned is critical for how we deal with future pandemics, as we work to consolidating how we grow back better”.
Because people don’t learn. Look at the ebb and flow of economic crises for details on how one generation’s cautions are not handed down. We are not like those swallows who know how to migrate despite having never done it before.
As we look around, things seem normal, but with a twist. It won’t be too long before we are faced with similar issues again. Maybe we should be writing some of this down before we run out of ketchup too.