Despite all the uncertainties about the upcoming summer vacations, the number of bookings for holidays is on the rise in the Netherlands. On travel company websites, it seems as if the corona crisis is already over. The sunny advertisements for hotels with blue swimming pools smile at you. It sure is tempting, but is it smart to book now?
The Dutch certainly think it is. De Volkskrant newspaper reports that, according to a survey commissioned by the travel industry association ANVR, 84 percent of Dutch people are ready to travel. For example, NOS news reports that the number of bookings abroad on websites such as Vliegtickets.nl and Vacansoleil is 40 to 50 percent higher than in 2019. Other travel agencies such as Sunweb (30 percent), De Jong Intra (27 percent), Corendon (20 percent) and TUI (15 percent) are experiencing the same tendency.
There is an increase in the number of trips to European nature destinations, holiday homes, camping trips and places along the Mediterranean. Travel behavior researcher Marco van Leeuwen told NOS the numbers are no surprise. The advice is to stay within Europe, where there are higher chances for countries to receive Dutch tourists. Sander van Veen, head of marketing at Vliegtickets.nl, tells NOS that this is logical: “Should something happen, you will be home relatively quickly, when you’re staying in Europe”.
On the other hand, travelling in general is a concern for epidemiologist Arnold Bosman. Those who return may bring the virus back with them. “What do you do if you become ill there, for example? The question is how far along we are with the vaccination strategy and how the new virus variants behave,” says Bosman.
Marketeer Van Veen saw the number of planned journeys increase at Vliegtickets.nl after the government press conference in April, despite the fact that opening up the travel industry was not discussed on that occasion. Moreover, it was not recommended to book a vacation until 15 May, as the government advised against all foreign travel. On 11 May, the cabinet announced that the travel advice would change, so that some countries would be deemed ‘safe’ by the Dutch government. However, these countries may still demand Dutch nationals to prove they have been vaccinated or show a negative corona test result.
Travel insurance and color codes
According to Iwanna de Jonge from the Dutch Association of Insurers, you are covered by most travel insurance policies if you are infected with corona just before your trip. Thus, you will be able to cancel without having to pay for the journey. However, she strongly advises to check the terms and conditions of your policy. AD Nieuws reports that the general recommendation is to book trips to areas that have been given a green or yellow status by the government, as a safer destination. Orange status means that all non-essential trips are discouraged. Red status means there a destination is very dangerous and should not be visited at all.
In general, corona-related risks are not insured when you are in an orange or red area. “If you go to a yellow area, the trip can be carried out safely and it will not be cancelled by the travel company,” says Mirjam Dresmé, a spokesman for ANVR. “If you book a package with a travel agency from April, you can change the date, rebook it or get your money back if the trip cannot take place. If you book something on your own, you have no guarantee that you will get your money back.”
De Volkskrant newspaper reports that on April 29, the European Parliament gave the green light to a corona passport to make it easier to travel within the EU. The free “EU Covid-19 certificate” works with a QR code. It will allow residents of the EU to show they have been vaccinated against Covid-19, have recently tested negative, or have sufficient antibodies. This will take away the need to quarantine or take a corona test upon arrival. The Dutch parliament hopes to introduce the pass before the summer.
Written by Raphael Perachi Vieira