Update Covid-19 Netherlands market10 July 2020
Economic developments and impact on the Dutch travel industry of COVID-19
After the unprecedented decline of 8.5 percent in the second quarter of 2020, according to the first calculation by CBS (Dutch Central Agency of Statistics), GDP increased by 7.7 percent in the third quarter of 2020 compared to the previous quarter. Meaning the V shaped recovery the government has hoped for. More than half of this growth, the largest ever, can be attributed to the sharp increase in household consumption. Government consumption, trade balance and investments also increased.
Nevertheless the travel industry, like the entire hospitality sector, has been affected severely. To compensate for these losses, the Dutch government has the following support measures on COVID-19 in place:
- Temporary Emergency Bridging Measure for Sustained Employment provides financial help for employers to pay their employees’ wages.
- The Reimbursement Fixed Costs Scheme aims to compensate fixed costs other than wage costs in selected sectors.
Despite this measures, sofar twenty percent of the 21.000 employees working in the travel industry has lost his or her job because of the COVID pandamic. Whereas the winter should have made up for the losses of many tour operators, with the current general travel restriction (there is a negative advise for all travel until mid-January, only Curaçao and Aruba are open for travel) the situation for many tour operators went from bad to worse.
The Dutch tourism association (supported by the Ministry of Economics and Dutch consumers council) successfully launched a ‘corona voucher’ in spring which avoided tour operators having to pay a cash refund to consumers who had to cancel their holiday. However, the value of the voucher needs to be used for a new holiday or alternatively after twelve monts a cash refund needs to take place, bringing the tour operators in a difficult financial position. Recently, the Ministery of Economic affairs confirmed to support a ‘voucher bank’, that will pay the refund for the travel companies. Basically this is a credit facility from the government and has to be covered by travel surcharges for travelers in the future. This has been a very important and positive step for the Dutch travel industry.
More restrictions after increase of Covid-19 infections in The Netherlands – 29th September 2020
The government announced stricter restrictions on the Dutch society, taking effect Tuesday 29th September. New restrictions include restaurants and bars to close at 10 p.m., sporting events to take place without audience, reduced numbers of groups of people and working at home where possible. Following the advice of the Dutch health institute RIVM, face masks still are only mandatory where the 1.5 meter distance rule cannot be safeguarded, like in public transport. However, in stores in cities with many active cases, such as Amsterdam and Rotterdam, masks are recommended and may be required by the shop owner.
Apart from recent decisions of the government to give countries and/or regions ‘code orange’, meaning that traveling to those destinations is strongly discouraged – like Spain and, since, September 8th the Greek islands – now more and more countries have restrictions for Dutch to enter their country, thus leading to increasingly fewer number of destinations where Dutch tavelers can choose from.
The future of the Dutch travel sector– Covid-19 update August ’20
Recent ‘code orange’ for various destinations makes it difficult for travel organizations to generate some turnover this summer with the sale of last minutes. ANVR leader Frank Oostdam expects that one third of the companies will go bankrupt. He says that to NU.nl, one of the main news platforms in The Netherlands. “It has already been a dramatic season for the travel industry. We had hoped to make up for at least some of the loss this summer with last minutes, but this is not the case right now. “Oostdam sees that the sector is not recovering well and that most companies have a turnover of only 25 to 30 percent of the normal situation this year. This has significant consequences for companies in the sector, he says. “No company can do without a good turnover for a whole year, so this causes major problems. We have been facing hundreds of thousands of cancellations since March and additional costs to repatriate people. I think that after the summer about one third of all companies in the sector will go bankrupt, which means that one third of workers in the sector will loose their job.” In a recent interview with TravMagazine, leading Dutch travel trade magazine, Frank ads that ANVR is active to secure continuous support and compensation from the government since this support is crucial for the sector.
Dutch travel industry more confident in the future – Covid-10 update July 10th
According to CBS, Central Agency of Statistics, entrepreneurs in the tourism sector in The Netherlands have an increased confidence in their future. In May only 10% of the travel companies expected to survive the crisis, in June this grew to 51%. A positive sign too is that, according to GfK, two third of the holiday makers who received an ANVR Travel Voucher (after cancellation due to Covid rather than travel organisations having to refund) indicate that they still want to exchange this voucher for a holiday this year, 38% already this summer. Many of them will look for a different holiday, closer to home and by car. Recent booking statistics are not yet available but we hear some encouraging sounds from our tour operator partners in the market. Most bookings that are made however are for the end of this year or beginning next year.
As of July 1st ‘corona rules’ in The Netherlands further mitigated – Corona update June 25th
Prime-minister Rutte announced in is – for now – the last press conference on June 24th a new phase of the corona crisis. As per July 1st the Dutch will have much more freedom, however the 1.5 meter rule is leading in almost every situation. Furthermore the advice remains to work as much as possible at home and to stay at home with any health concerns. Some of the most important changes are:
- The maximum number of people in one space is limited to 100 (not counting staff). Everyone must have their own seat.
- No maximum number of people applies if they have their own seat, have made reservations and have undergone a pre-entry health check.
- In shops, museums, libraries and other settings where visitors move through the space, the rule is that people must stay 1.5 meters apart. It is up to locations to make sure people follow this rule. Here, no maximum number of people applies.
- No more than 250 people (not counting staff) can be present.
- In outdoor seating areas at restaurants, cafés and bars guests must have their own seat.
- No maximum number of people applies if they have their own seat, have made reservations and have undergone a pre-entry health check.
- At zoos, theme parks and other outdoor locations where visitors move through the space, the rule is that people must stay 1.5 meters apart. It is up to locations to make sure people follow this rule. Here, no maximum number of people applies.
- Non-medical face masks must be worn on public transport. Passengers can now use all seats on buses, trains, trams and metros. However, it is still important to avoid peak hours.
- For other shared forms of transport, such as taxis, passenger vans and coaches, passengers must reserve and must undergo a pre-travel health check. Non-medical face masks must also be worn.
- People travelling in a car or other private vehicle are advised to wear non-medical face masks if there are 2 or more people in the vehicle who belong to different households.
- For now, on other forms of transport the rule is: stay 1.5 meters apart.
In general loud group singing or chanting is forbidden. Also nightclubs and similar venues will remain closed until September 1st. On September 1st the situation will be evaluated and re-addressed. Of course, should the situation require, new measures will go into force but these will have a more local character.
Holiday intention of the Dutch only 33% this summer – Corona update June 9th
Whereas usually the holiday intention of the Dutch is over 80%, this percentage has dropped to only 33% this summer. 48% of the respondents intend to stay at home this summer. This is the most important conclusion of a research carried out bij EénVandaag (OneToday), a current affairs programme broadcast on the Dutch public television network NPO 1 (formerly Nederland 1). A recurring feature of the program is the Opinion Panel, a group of over 35,000 viewers who are regularly asked, via the Internet, for their opinion on current topics. This makes it one of the largest opinion panels in the Netherlands, making this a very reliable source. Of the more than one third of the respondents who will go on holiday, one out of five already booked their holiday. Some people see no reason to change the plans they made earlier: ‘We have chosen for this destination and we stick to it. If we can go to France, we will go to France.’ Some people even book to countries such as France, Spain, Greece and Austria, without a current positive travel advise. 26% of the holiday makers plans to go to one of these destinations – 9% choses to go to France, followed by Greece (7%), Spain (6%) and Austria (4%) – and 20% to countries with comparable risks fof which Germany is favourite. Our own country is the favourite holiday destination of the Dutch this summer, 42% of the people who go on holiday will stay in Holland. Main reason given is that this feels safer to be close to home should a second corona wave occur. Nevertheless one out of five travellers intends to take the plane to their holiday destination. Especially people between 35 and 55 year, families with children really want to go out after months of being at home.
Holiday information from Rijksoverheid.nl/Coronavirus
Dutch tourists can travel abroad from June 15th – June 3rd
The Dutch government announced that the travel restrictions for some EU / Schengen countries and the Caribbean part of the Kingdom of The Netherlands will be lifted from June 15. This means that travel advisories for the following countries will be changed from orange to yellow: Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Estonia, Italy, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Portugal, Slovenia and Czech Republic. The risk to health in these countries is comparable to that in the Netherlands and that these countries are happy to receive Dutch tourists. Other countries, for instance Austria, France and Spain, still need to make an official decision on whether or not Dutch tourists are welcome this summer. For Sweden and the United Kingdom the code will remain orange (travel only if necessary). Holidays outside Europe are only possible to Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, St. Martin, Saba and St. Eustatius.
Netherlands Airline update Covid-19 – June 2nd
EasyJet announced today their plan to resume flights from Schiphol again from July 1st. The number will be lower than before due to the reduced demand. EasyJet starts in July with 26 destinations, including Dubrovnik, Ibiza, Nice and Tel Aviv. Cities such as Basel, Copenhagen and Rome will be added in August. Face masks for passengers and crew are required on the flights. Also, no food and drink is served on board for safety reasons.
Also KLM announced an increase in flights in July. KLM will operate 25 to 30 percent of the normal number of flights, an increase of 60 percent compared to June. The range of destinations is being expanded in Southern Europe in particular. Also capacity is extended by using bigger aircrafts. The planned European KLM network comprises a total of 73 destinations in July. That was 30 destinations in May and 45 in June.
In June, KLM’s intercontinental network was expanded to include Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao Sint Maarten, Paramaribo and Quito. In July, KLM plans to add six additional destinations (Jakarta, Denpasar, Washington, San Francisco, Vancouver, Calgary) and also the frequency of these destinations will be increased. Half of the 51 destinations that are currently operated are for freight. As soon as authorities mitigate travel restrictions, KLM will also open these destinations for ticket sales wherever possible. With more than 3,000 departures in July KLM will again serve 78 percent of the initially planned number of destinations.
Corona Holiday update Dutch market – May 27th
In a new press conference today Prime Minister asked to stay at home if possible. With regards to holidays abroad this will only be possible to countries where the situation is similar to the situation in The Netherlands. Still also abroad crowds are to be avoided and local guidelines to be adhered to. Next week it will be more clear which countries it will be possible to travel to.
Furthermore new mitigations were announced per July 1st, like the opening of gyms. Again, this is subject to how the mitigations starting June 1st will work out with regards to new infections and the behaviour of the Dutch in general.
Netherlands Airline update Covid-19 – May 27th
Transavia announced today that they extend their flight schedule with two new destinations: Alicante and Porto. These new destinations will start from June 10th, in addition to the destinations Malaga, Athens, Lisboa and Faro which start June 4th. Furthermore Transavia says to examine every week which new destinations can be added, based on recent developments. Passengers and crew will carry safety masks.
Covid-19 Travel update The Netherlands – May 23rd
After the press conference last week in which the mitigation of corona measures per June 1st were confirmed, for the travel industry there is still no concrete news. Some airlines announced the (slow) restart of flights and some countries are preparing for the return of tourists this summer. However, for the Dutch travel industry and the Dutch holiday maker it is still unclear if a holiday abroad this summer is possible. At the moment, all countries have code ‘orange’, meaning travel is only allowed if necessary. Even though the EU wants a better coordination between countries and a gradual lifting of travel restrictions, in the end the member states decide for themselves who to allow in their country.
In the meantime many countries are already presenting plans to re-open their country for tourism. Italy opens its borders from June 3rd for Schengen countries, Spain will do this from the beginning of July and Italy from June 15th. Also some states are making ‘corona-bonds’ meaning they will open the bothers for each other and exchange tourists. The first example of this new phenomena are Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Austria wants to open the borders per July 15th for Switzerland, Germany and Czech Republic.
Can Dutch go on holiday again this summer?
Prime-Minister Rutte says that in order to give an answer to this question first three other questions will need to be answered: what will other EU countries do, what are the risks and will there be restrictions for people returning from a holiday abroad. Questions that are difficult to answer right now but the fact that the Minister of Tourism in France quite recently said that France will have to do without tourists this summer and only a few days later said that he would like to welcome Dutch tourists, is a good sign. Also Spain is talking about a restart whereas only a month ago this was unthinkable. Slowly things are becoming to look more positive for next summer.
Covid-19 update The Netherlands – May 7th
Following several European countries yesterday Prime-Minister Rutte announced the easing of the current Corona lockdown. This was good news for hair dressers and other professions can start from May 11th, cinema’s and restaurants per June 1st. Also high schools reopen June 1st and also public transport will start running normal services although only 40% may be occupied and face masks are compulsory. Camping sites and vacation parks will reopen in July. All the measures will be done gradually and provided the 1.5 meter rule is maintained.
Travel abroad is restricted to essential travel only and any easing depends on the restrictions in other countries as well. Meaning for the travel sector not any perspective was offered. According to Frank Oostdam, Director ANVR, for the travel sector government support is essential as recent survey showed a decrease of 85% in 2020 in outbound travel (business and leisure).
KLM – May 7th
KLM presented its first quarter results. While the first two months started positively, the downturn from the start of March has been enormous. In the course of March, most of the fleet was grounded and the number of flights operated was reduced to less than 10% compared to the situation before Covid-19. KLM therefore generated a Q1 loss of €275 million compared to a loss of €47 million in the same period last year. Earlier this week KLM announced the resumption of 15% of its flights as target in May. Effective May 4th KLM will resume one daily flight, seven days a week to Barcelona, Madrid, Rome, Milan, Budapest, Prague, Warsaw and Helsinki. KLM introduced many measures to protect staff and customers including the compulsory wearing of face masks where social distancing cannot be guaranteed.
Lockdown Update The Netherlands – April 22nd
Yesterday evening Prime Minister Rutte announced that primary schools will reopen after the May vacation. Other mitigations included juveniles to be allowed to jointly do sports, although competition is not allowed. Close-contact business remain to be closed as are bars, restaurants etc. Furthermore the government confirmed that the basic rules will remain in force; work as much as possible from home, shop groceries alone, keep 1.5 meter distance and stay at home with even the slightest health complaints. Rutte stated to be aware of the fact that more and more citizens have trouble accepting their restricted lives, but that living up to all measures is essential to continue the current decrease of infected people and to make sure the pressure on our health care system remains under control. Companies are asked to prepare themselves for a future re-opening taking into account the 1.5 meter distance rule. In general however the motto is better to be cautious than sorry, and take new mitigations one step at the time.
All events until September 1st cancelled
Rutte announced the cancellation of all major events through September 1st. This includes large pop festivals like Pinkpop and Lowlands, the tall ships event Sail which is organised every five years and now postponed till 2025 and paid football. When asked if people could safely book summer holidays, Rutte said it is up to individuals. We cannot see more than three weeks ahead. Personally I have cancelled a few trips and will not book.
Dutch Travel Industry Covid-19 update – April 17th
The Dutch Association for Travel Organisations ANVR conducted a survey in early April among a part of its travel company members. The results were then converted into totals for the travel sector. If there is no recovery in the summer, the decline in turnover due to corona can rise to 80-85%; a loss of € 8 – € 8.5 billion. Whereas the original forecast for 2020 was € 10 billion in turnover. Should travel in summer gradually and/or partly be possible again, a 56% drop in turnover is expected; a loss of € 5.6 billion. In any case the busy May holiday is already lost.
Frank Oostdam, chairman ANVR: “Without government support, this will have dramatic consequences for the companies and employment of the nearly 20,000 employees in our industry. About 300 travel organizations and 1,000 (business) travel agencies are affiliated with the ANVR. The government has the travel sector is rightly identified as one of the most severely affected sectors and promised compensation measures. We also hope that this will be implemented promptly. “
In addition to the lack of new bookings, the travel sector also has to deal with losses as a result of having to cancel business and holiday trips. Almost half of the estimated turnover of € 2.7 billion booked up to 1 June has already been cancelled. When it comes to package holidays, travel companies are legally obliged to fully compensate the customer if they cannot carry out the trip. But in the meantime, these companies have already entered into financial obligations with suppliers and often are not reimbursed themselves. The total cancellation damage up to 1 June is already € 337 million. If summer cancellations are added, this will increase by hundreds of millions.
In recent weeks, travel companies have had to repatriate around 125,000 travellers at high costs. Now that the travel industry has come to a complete standstill and all previously sold trips have to be cancelled and refunded, maintaining employment would require a 10-month NOW scheme (partial payment of wages by the government), worth around € 400 million.
Frank Oostdam, chairman / director ANVR: “As travel industry, we were the first to be hit; it started with traveling to China. It cannot be ruled out that business and holiday trips will be the last to start up again. The corona voucher currently gives us a postponement, but it is not withdrawal of reimbursement. The sector now employs almost 20,000 people. We therefore urgently request the support of the government. Together with the government, further measures must be worked out in the upcoming weeks on appropriate measures for the travel industry. “
Airline Industry Corona update – April 16th
There are a lot of complaints about the vouchers that airlines issue in case of cancellation. In the old situation passengers if a flight is cancelled, passengers can book an alternative or get a refund within 7 days. Because of the crisis this is not feasible for many airlines and they issue a voucher so people can travel later. However the Dutch consumers association, although they appreciate the difficult situation of the entire sector, say that this solution is disadvantageous for consumers. An important issue is that the voucher does not cover bankruptcy. The consumers association says that if the Minister approves the voucher, than the government needs to guarantee payment in case of bankruptcy. Furthermore, the consumer has to wait 12 months before they can exchange the voucher for money. Since this is different in other countries, there is the risk that by the time the Dutch consumer claims its money, they are last in line. The consumers association says that they can only support the voucher if these and other improvements, like flexibility with names and charges for changes, will be made.
Situation update Covid-19 – April 6th
#flattenthecurve seems to work in The Netherlands: the number of people that were admitted to hospital and to intensive care are levelling off, as well as the number of reported deaths. The infection rate, the number of people that one Covid-19 patient infects, is decreasing as well according to the models. Nevertheless it is of great importance that the current measures, last week extended until Tueasday 28th of April, are lived up to strictly by everybody. So far, the Dutch ‘intelligent lockdown’ works quite well and in general the Dutch people are taking their responsibility.
Airline Industry Corona update – April 3rd
KLM had a meeting with the government to explain why they are planning on cutting 1500 – 2000 (flex) jobs whereas the government will contribute an estimated € 350 mio for subsidies of wages. The government accepted their view, considering that 28.000 permanenet jobs are on the line too. As of March 29th, KLM is flying the earlier announced 10% of its capacity. This will take ultil May 3rd and will be reviewed every 4 – 6 weeks.
Meanwhile in a newsletter named ‘A message from Johan’ , Easyjet CEO Johan Lundgren announced to temporarily ground all of their fleet of aircraft. Meaning that throughout April not Easyjet flights are operating anywhere on out network other than for repatriation.
Situation update Covid-19 Netherlands market – March 26th, 2020
Today, the CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis, published four scenarios to outline the possible economic impact of the coronavirus in 2020 and 2021. In general the conclusion is that an economic recession is unavoidable but that government debt will remain ‘bearable’. The scenarios depend on the duration of the current restrictions but all result in recession, with GDP declining by between 1.2% and 7.7% in 2020. In their mildest scenario, the economy will rebound as early as in the third quarter of 2020, whereas in the worst scenario, problems will expand to also include the financial sector and the situation abroad will continue to worsen. This last scenario also projects GDP to decrease by 2.7% in 2021. There is a 75% likelihood that the economic downturn will be more severe than in the 2008–2009 crisis.
The Dutch travel industry launched March 16th the Corona voucher (see below). In case of a negative travel advice, the tour operator has to cancel and give a full refund to the customer. In the current situation, this would certainly lead to even more problems for the tour operators since their cash flow is under huge pressure already. On the other hand, legally customers cannot be forced to accept the voucher. ACM, the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets, an organisation that protects consumer interests amongst other by making sure that businesses compete fairly with one another, gave a positive advice. This does not mean that customers are forced to accept the voucher but that ACM pro-actively communicate to customers that it is sensible and fair to accept the voucher in this unparalleled times since this helps the travel organisation and may prevent the customer to be left empty handed when the tour operator goes bankrupt. Even more so since the consumer will remain the right to get a refund after 6 months of issuing the voucher.
Corona Crisis Dutch Travel Industry update – March 23rd, 2020
Following the closure of borders in various countries, Dutch tour operators are currently working around the clock to get their stranded passengers home. Including passengers who did not book via a tour operator, the estimated number of passengers abroad on March 20th was 200.000. Today, the Minsitry of Foreign Affairs introduced the website www.bijzonderebijstandbuitenland.nl (special support abroad), an initiative in cooperation with the Dutch travel industry and insurance companies. Dutch travelers need to pay a contribution for their repatriation. People who are booked via a tour operator will be brought home by the tour operator without further expenses.
Extended travel suspension
Last Friday TUI announced to stop selling holidays up until the end of April. Smaller tour operators followed in TUI’s footsteps, some are still waiting till April 6th. Meanwhile, today Corendon announced to cancel all holidays until June 1st. Steven van der Heijden, CEO Corendon says not to foresee this crisis to end soon and to create clarity for their customer and to prevent having them to pay a down payment with the likelihood that the holiday cannot happen. In order to increase the choice of the holidaymaker, Corendon already made a part of the winter sun offer open for bookings on their website.
Situation update Covid-19 Netherlands market – March 17th, 2020
Travel advice: only travel abroad if essential
As of now the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is advising all Dutch people not to travel abroad in the coming period unless absolutely essential. This is due not to health-related factors, but to the impact that measures imposed by other countries could have on Dutch travellers.
The Ministry is thus advising against taking holidays abroad. This means that, as of now, the Netherlands’ travel advice for all countries stands at least at ‘orange’: travel only if absolutely essential.
The Ministry is consulting closely with the travel industry and other countries on the consequences of this measure.
Source and further information: https://www.government.nl/topics/coronavirus-covid-19/news/2020/03/17/travel-advice-only-travel-abroad-if-essential
Travel market update Covid-19 Netherlands market – March 16th, 2020
For travelers who have booked a packaged holiday which is covered by the travel guarantee fund (SGR) the Dutch travel association ANVR launched the “corona voucher” as of March 16, 2020. Travelers can use this voucher to re-book the canceled trip at a later time and still go on holiday. The advantage for the travel organisation is that this voucher avoids having to pay a refund to the client, leading to even more cash-flow challenges. For the traveller the advantage is that even if the travel organisation goes bankrupt, the value of the voucher (which is the amount the traveller (pre) paid for the original holiday) is secured and guaranteed by SGR. For travelers who have only booked a flight ticket that has been canceled, a corona voucher cannot be issued.
Situation update Covid-19 Netherlands market – March 15th, 2020
The Netherlands market is increasingly impacted by the expanding infection numbers of Covid-19. Compared to some other affected countries the government responded late, but as from Thursday 12th March citizens are advised to work from home if possible and gatherings of 100+ persons are forbidden. Today further measures were announced: closing down all schools, restaurants, bars, sport clubs up with immediate effect until April 6th.
At the moment there are 1.135 confirmed infections and 20 death casualties. Since not everyone is tested (families of patients who are also ill are not tested and not in the statistics), the estimation is that currently 6.000 Dutch have been infected. With an increasing number of countries in a lockdown or having quarantine arrival regulations, cruise companies, tour operators and airlines suspending operations the worst case scenario for the travel industry became reality. Especially since more countries are expected to close their borders. Tour operators Corendon and Sunweb announced to cancel all operations of holidays effective March 15th to March 31st. Sunday 15th MarchTUI took the same decision and many specialised and smaller size tour operators followed.
The situation for KLM is very serious, even more so since the national carrier is crucial for the Dutch economy. With the entry ban of Europeans to the US the situation worsened for KLM. With more countries to follow 25% of their flights are cancelled as we speak. In April, May and June this will be increased. KLM staff will work 30% less as of start of April and 1500-2000 jobs will be cut. Schiphol Airport and KLM are therefore asking the government for support and last Friday there was a meeting with the responsible ministers. So far without a concrete support plan. In general the government reassures to be able to compensate for staff to work less while still remaining under contract. The reduced share of work will be compensation from government unemployment budgets. The travel industry is expected to make use of this option on a very large scale in order to survive a huge cut of cash flow. In this way the government can prevent economically healthy companies from bankruptcy as a result of this extraordinary situation.