The pandemic has, in some shape or form, affected every individual, business and sector across the globe. The travel industry is no exception. In fact, it’s safe to say it’s been one of the hardest hit by the lockdowns and restrictions.
As many countries have begun to ease out of the past two years of uncertainty and fears, many were hopeful the travel industry would spring back into action. Places like Italy, Greece, Croatia and Spain, for example, have been looking forward to getting back to “business as usual”. The expectation was that visitors would once again sweep in and the travel season would start early.
But then Russia and Ukraine happened. Now, the hustle and bustle of tourism looks incredibly unlikely. According to the latest reports, the worst-hit destinations thus far are those in close proximity to Ukraine, including Poland, Hungary, Estonia, Croatia and Bulgaria. ForwardKeys shared that the decrease in bookings has been between 30-50%.
Across Europe, the damage from the war is already being felt. Fuel costs are rising, supply chain issues are mounting and inflation and labor strikes are widespread. Reports say drivers in Spain have been on strike for over 10 days, creating food and goods shortages. Meanwhile, energy prices in Italy continue to surge which worries many hotel operators.
Javier Garcia Cuenca, the vice president of Magic Costa Blanca Hotels and Resorts, says, “We are trying to be flexible and find replacements for products in short supply, like we use olive oil instead of sunflower oil, so it does not impact the customer experience. But the problem is managing cost, it becomes more expensive.”
The hope for many of these countries has also taken a sad, downward turn. The pandemic years have obviously been very hard for everyone. Now, the countries affected by the Russian-Ukrain conflict are struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“The mood in general is depressive, because everything seemed to be over and instead there’s been a new downturn,” explained Margherita Capponi, a tour guide based in Rome.
For now, business owners are doing their very best to manage rising costs, pay the bills and adapt to supply chain problems. The atmosphere is very much “wait and see”, while also holding onto hope that there will be some travel demand post-Covid.
“We will not have as strong a year as we expected,” Cuenca, of Magic Costa Blanca, told the New York Times in an interview. “But there is still strong demand as people realized during Covid that they could die and they will not live forever so they prioritize holidays and leisure.”
Blair Thomas has been a music producer, bouncer, screenwriter and for over a decade has been the proud Co-Founder of eMerchantBroker, the highest rated high risk merchant account processor and travel merchant account provider in the country. He has climbed in the Himalayas, survived a hurricane, and lived on a gold mine in the Yukon. He currently calls Thailand his home with a lifetime collection of his favorite books.