In the latest episode of Marketplace Europe, CNN’s Nina dos Santos, Jim Bittermann, and Anna Stewart explore how the European tourism industry is looking for ways to cope with surging demand, after two years of disruption.
At St. Pancras International Station, dos Santos meets Eurostar CEO Jacques Damas to discuss how demand for travel is bouncing back. He says, “The ramp up has been very, very quick. And you see there is an appetite for travelling. And even this summer’s appetite is almost 100% of the pre-pandemic figures.”
Damas also discusses the Eurostar ‘family’ and how the company coped during the pandemic, “Despite the facts that the economics were very tough, despite that, I didn’t want to make redundant operational people. So you see no driver at all, no train manager at all, has been made redundant. And we have kept the maximum of resources so there is really a very, very strong family within Eurostar, so I’m very proud of this effort.”
The Eurostar CEO is optimistic about the future, telling dos Santos, “Everybody is focusing on one thing, which is satisfying the customer expectations. At the very moment, there is a strong appetite which may be specific to this summer, which is the first one for two years with appetite to cover. But there are also a number of other positive and sustainable evolutions.”
In the French district of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, Bittermann explores the concept of ‘revenge tourism’ – travel with a vengeance to get back at two years of pandemic. He speaks to tourists, campers, restaurant owners, and hotel managers who describe how the tourism boom is affecting them. The commune’s mayor Jean-François Dieterich says the demand this year is great for the area, “It’s much, much better than 2018. Which is very good for the shops, for restaurants, for hotels – which are full.”
CNN also sees the effect sanctions against Russia, imposed following the invasion of Ukraine, have had on tourist destinations. Bruno Mercadal, manager of the Hotel Royal-Riviera tells Bittermann that both Russian tourists and permanent residents have disappeared from the area, and recounts how one family staying at the hotel were forced to pay in cash when their credit cards were frozen.
Finally, Stewart reports from the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) Annual General Meeting & World Air Transport Summit in Qatar. Airline CEOs including Lufthansa’s Carsten Spohr, Airbus’ Guillaume Faury,and IATA’s Director-General Willie Walsh share their optimism around the Covid recovery for the aviation sector.
Faury tells Stewart, “It’s a rollercoaster, but there are some steady trends. One is the appetite for flight is very strong. And as soon as passengers see the restrictions being lifted, they want to fly again. There is so much pent up demand, that there is still room for the industry to catch up domestically, it’s already much better than it used to be, and also international.”