HalalBooking, the global leader for halal-friendly hotels and villas, revealed its latest travel survey results that reflect travellers’ attitudes towards travel during the coronavirus pandemic.
The platform carried out an online survey in January 2021 and received almost 2000 responses from its customers. They were asked various questions about their travel experiences in 2020. Overall, just over 51% of those surveyed did book and stay in a hotel on at least one occasion in 2020.
There were some differences between the various nationalities with German-speaking customers being the most likely to have travelled (64%), followed by Turkish-speaking (58%), with English-speaking and French-speaking customers at 43% and 41% respectively. This is perhaps a reflection of how badly these countries were hit by the pandemic and the severity of travel restrictions in place.
Turkey was the most popular destination in 2020 and is set to be favourite in 2021
The main destination booked in 2020 across all markets was Turkey, which was chosen by 74% of all customers for their hotel stay. This reflects the proactive response of the Turkish authorities, who introduced the ‘Safe Tourism Certification Programme’ in June 2020. It is now compulsory for hotels with more than 30 rooms. It sets out an extensive list of health and safety measures which must be followed to keep hotels Covid-secure, with participating establishments undergoing regular inspections.
Turkey was also on the UK’s, Germany’s and other countries’ safe travel corridor lists for most of the summer 2020 season and the German foreign minister confirmed during his recent visit to Turkey that Turkey’s safe tourism programme had been very successful and should be seen as a role model for other countries. It was clearly also viewed as the safest destination by HalalBooking guests, and in fact, guest review scores for Turkey’s halal-friendly beach resorts increased in summer 2020.
When asked which destination they would like to visit first in 2021, overall 62% of respondents said that it would be Turkey, followed by Dubai, Morocco and the Maldives.
Travel restrictions and regulations affect travel not the fear of Covid-19 itself
Overall, a huge 71% of those who didn’t travel in 2020, responded that they would have travelled, despite the pandemic, if there had been no travel restrictions or quarantine requirements in place. Amongst French-speakers this rose to 79% and for German-speakers it was 80%.
What is the position for travel in 2021?
English-speaking customers were the most confident of travelling in 2021: 10% of those surveyed had already booked accommodation for travel in 2021, when surveyed at the beginning of January.
HalalBooking’s CEO, Elnur Seyidli said, “It is clear that the key to customer confidence in 2021, is offering complete flexibility. HalalBooking has brought in new measures such as free cancellation on most properties and ‘book now, pay later’ options to give customers greater flexibility and reassure them that they can book without risk. In this way, they will feel confident to book, knowing that they can cancel or reschedule if their plans change.”
65% of English-speakers said that they hadn’t yet booked because of uncertainty about travel restrictions and possible testing or quarantine requirements. Only 8% said that they hadn’t booked because of concern about catching the virus itself. A similar situation was reflected amongst French- and German-speakers.
Seyidli added: “Given customers’ concerns about travel restrictions, we are hoping that governments will take a proactive approach in order to prioritise safe and secure travel. It is vital that they make consistent decisions and communicate with the travel industry and consumers clearly. Having had a year of restricted travel, we believe that customers will be very keen to get away and expect a surge in bookings, as vaccination programmes are rolled out and restrictions start to lift. January 2021 sales were at 60% of January 2019 sales, which is very promising, considering the current lockdowns in Europe.”
By March, the company forecasts that sales will pick up to more than 100% and for June to 200% compared to the same months in 2019. For 2021 as a whole the company forecasts 1.9x growth in comparison with 2019 sales, which would mean total sales of $60M as compared to $32M in 2019.
The survey revealed that of those who have already booked accommodation, more than 70% had booked to travel to Turkey.
HalalBooking’s Chief Marketing Officer, Ufuk Seçgin, said: “It’s not surprising that Turkey is proving popular. It clearly demonstrated that it was a reliable, safe travel destination in 2020 and it is evident that those customers who enjoyed holidays there want to go back. There has been good news recently with encouraging results from vaccines such as the Oxford vaccine, which offer good protection against the dominant variants in Europe, as well as 67% reduced transmission rates, and the fast roll out of vaccination programmes in the U.K., Turkey and many other countries. This together with the fast-falling infection levels, lead us to believe that we are past the peak and are very hopeful for a fantastic summer season. It seems that our customers are feeling the same as bookings have increased significantly in the last week.” He added: “For those who might prefer to stay closer to home, we have added thousands of new properties in our main European outbound markets such as the UK, Germany and France. We believe that choice and flexibility will be a major factor for our customers in 2021.”