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Canary Islands: last-minute sales could save the season

An analysis carried out on advance flight searches to travel to the Canary Islands for the summer period last year brings hope for recovery if the sector relaunches from the second week of May onwards.

Given the evolution of the health crisis caused by the COVID-19 crisis and the consequent contingency measures that have been applied, it has become increasingly clear that the tourism sector in Spain will not recover in May. There are likewise serious doubts regarding a potential recovery for the sector in June.

In light of this situation, Mabrian Technologies, a consulting firm specialised in identifying and anticipating tourism dynamics, has carried out a study which can bring hope regarding the recovery potential. In order to do so, they have analysed the evolution of a series of indicators both from this year as well as 2019, taking the Canary Islands and its main airports (Tenerife Norte, Tenerife Sur, Las Palmas, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura) as the subject of the study. The study analyses spontaneous flight searches patterns as well as flight schedules from the three main markets for the islands: United Kingdom, Germany and Spain.

An analysis of daily flight searches to visit the Canary Islands from Spain, the United Kingdom and Germany shows a clear drop from the 9th of March onwards, in comparison to last year, with no signs of recovery. This is a clear effect of the crisis caused by COVID-19.

In order to anticipate recovery opportunities, Mabrian has taken a look at the demand pattern for the 2019 high season (June to August), measuring the margins of reaction for the current season.

By taking into consideration the 15th May 2020 as a hypothetical turning point, they tried to measure if there would be enough room for manoeuvre from this day onwards to recover demand from June onwards. An analysis of the advance flight searches patterns to visit the Canary Islands in June, July and August show the following reaction margins.

The behaviour observed in last year’s flight searches shows that around 40% of flight searches to travel in June took place in the 45 days prior to the travel date. There are of course differences between the markets analysed, with Spaniards showing the highest percentage of last-minute searches (42.7%) and Germans showing more advance searches (37.7%). 

The indicators are even more encouraging when analysing the average advance flight searches for stays in July and August 2019. For stays in July, over 50% of the queries were carried out from the 15th of May onwards. For stays in August, this percentage increases to 65%. Again, differences can be seen between the different origin markets, with Spaniards showing a higher last-minute reaction margin, with 59% and 67% of searches made from the 15th May onwards to travel in July and August respectively. 

In view of these dynamics, and taking into account the rebound effect that the sector hopes to see once constraints on the movement of people have been lifted, this data would confirm that the tourism sector in the Canary Islands could start to plan for recovery from June onwards, specifically in terms of the national market, albeit in a more gradual way and bearing in mind that regular demand will not be covered for these months in the short term.

Air connectivity: analysis of accessibility to the destination

Despite demand showing the potential for recovery with a relatively small advance margin, there are two key issues that need to be analysed to know if inspirational demand can actually translate into bookings and stays: travel constraints from the different governments (both at destination and at origin) as well as recovery of air connectivity. With regards to air connectivity, which is absolutely key for the Canary Islands, the last flight schedules update shows a huge decrease in flight seats of around 80% for the month of April. However, the current flight schedule shows potential recovery signs for the month of May, almost reaching 2019 levels in June.   

Despite this being the schedule published by airlines on 1st April, Mabrian prefers to remain cautious with regards to possible changes that the flight schedules might undergo dependent on the evolution of circumstances and potential measures taken by the different governments. For this reason, and as it is one of the key aspects to help destinations recover, Mabrian will continue to closely monitor flight schedule updates and will inform their clients of changes twice a week for the foreseeable future.

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