Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced earlier this week that early analysis of its vaccine suggests that it may be 90 per cent effective at preventing Covid-19. If that proves to be the case, the jab could well reverse the fortunes of the travel and tourism sector that is at breaking point if, as hoped, it is approved and rolled out in the first few months of next year.
The figures that reveal snapshots of the damage done this year remain bleak: new ONS data released on Monday shows that overseas travel dropped by 96 per between April and June. Overall, the pandemic and subsequent global travel restrictions have cost the aviation industry an estimated $426 (£322) billion in lost revenue.
Large parts of the travel industry are on the brink, so will this news make a difference to businesses and consumers take heart? Well, there have been some encouraging signs with share price rises for travel-related businesses and travel agents and tour operators reporting an increase in interest.
The latest data from TravelSupermarket shows that the most popular months for travel in 2021 are currently April and May, after the vaccine is rumoured to be rolled-out, although this could be as related to vague proclamations from Boris Johnson about life returning to normal “by spring” and a general optimism that warmer months will bring fewer restrictions.
Many companies suggest that the appetite for travel has never gone away and that it is Government restrictions, rather than fears of contracting the virus, that have devastated the industry. This is evidenced by the surge of holiday bookings to the Canary Islands after it was added to the travel corridor list in October, when it was clear that Britain was in the grip of a second wave.
Whilst the industry is still looking for government support, particularly for protection in the event that destinations are shut down or flights grounded, and there are still hoops for the vaccine manufacturers to jump through, this is at least good news amongst the gloom and gives hope to all of us travel lovers making plans for 2021.