US, Asia demand a ballast against Europe’s new COVID wave, says Webjet

Travel group Webjet is hopeful surging demand in Asia and North America will offset the impact of the fourth COVID-19 wave crashing onto Europe and forcing parts of the continent back into lockdown.

Chief executive John Guscic said the global travel industry was now at the “tail end” of the pandemic and Webjet was claiming a larger share of business as the world reopened, putting it on track to return to pre-pandemic booking levels at some point between October 2022 and March 2023.

Webjet managing director John Guscic said parts of the world reopening should offset any hit from the fourth COVID wave arriving in Europe. Credit:Arsineh Houspian

“Whilst there will continue to be short-term uncertainty, the incredible work that is being done with regards to vaccinations, boosters and anti-viral treatments will stabilise the impact over the next six to 12 months,” he said on Wednesday.

“Our geographic diversification has become a strength as those different regions recover at different times. Where demand does come back it comes back in a hurry and we’ve seen that across the board.”

The ASX-listed Webjet operates a local direct-to-consumer online travel booking website, and a global industry business called WebBeds which wholesales hotel rooms to travel agents, tour operators and airlines.

Webjet’s bullish outlook on Wednesday came despite surging COVID-19 cases in Europe, which this week prompted Austria to reimpose a nationwide lockdown. Some German states are also back in lockdown, Belgium has ordered citizens to work from home at least four days a week, while the Netherlands has made shops, bars and restaurants close early and restricted indoor social gatherings to four people.

Mr Guscic said Europe’s fourth COVID-19 wave was not having any impact on group-wide bookings, which were continuing to rise as new markets opened up their borders. “Which is not to say that it won’t come, but what we are seeing is… a more than compensating impact of trans-Atlantic travel opening up… and Asian markets starting to open up,” he told investors after delivering the group’s half-year results.

Hundreds of local bricks-and-mortar travel agents have shut their doors since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, accelerating the shift to online booking sites.

Source: Einnews

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