“This 2023 is going to be the best year in history for world tourism”
Uncertainty. The word that has defined the world economy in 2022 was also part of the discourse of the tourism sector, which saw how all the wind in favor of the reopening of borders could slow down its recovery after the pandemic. But once it is assumed that the possible recession that was talked about months ago is not going to arrive, the big players in the sector have gone to a new phase of controlled euphoriagiven the good financial results of hotels, restaurants or airlines.
Fewer are looking bluntly ahead and saying outright that 2023 will be even more successful. It is the case of Ricardo FernandezCEO of the online travel agency Destinia, which achieved the best result in its 22-year history with a turnover of 190 million euros. He attributes this achievement to “having done things right” and to changes in consumer behavior: “In the first months there was a lot of euphoria, but the savings have been disappearing. Later it has been seen that traveling has become a priority for people , who values much more than the leisure and happiness that being able to have a weekend getaway gives you,” he says in an interview with La Información.
Big numbers for world tourism
In his opinion, 2023 will be “the best year in history” for world tourism, and this will be reflected in GDP generated by this sector throughout the planet. “These two years we’ve had in Europe have been good for almost everyone, and it’s been that way while Asia was closed. Now their numbers are starting to rise, the numbers that are being seen are absolutely brutalso I’m sure it’s going to be the best year in terms of tourist spending.”
This euphoria will not be the same in all countries or markets, he points out, because while Asia is seeing a ‘boom’, there may be economies that, in isolation, do show some kind of decline in their figures. “The United States is working very well; South America and North Africa are working. In the United Kingdom, Germany or France, which could go backwards, reserves are not resisting at the moment.” For Spain, he believes that “it will be a good year”, according to the data available for the first six months of the year. The Exceltur employers estimated the increase in the tourism business at 7.1% for this year.
The good pace is occurring, in his opinion, due to the positive evolution of economic indicators: “The macro environment has not hurt us much. Savings have declined, but not much job loss or recession has really been felt. Inflation, which has been very high, has been even higher in the average price of accommodation in many places, and even so, reservations have continued, “he explains. His figures registered a increase in the average price per night of between 23 and 25% higher than those of 2019a value that will relax in what it calls the “soft landing” of prices.
All reserved for Easter
The foreseeable decrease is due to the the further in advance consumers are booking their travel. “Last year we were still super short-sighted and we booked everything at the last minute. This year the advance notice is much greater, the percentage of reservations for Easter and summer has grown a lot, and that pushes prices down”, although he warns of that will continue to be affected by increases in labor costs, supplies or energy.
Regarding the rhythm of reserves, Fernández points out that Traveling at Easter is going to be very complicated because for trips abroad “almost everything is reserved”. For summer there are still “many opportunities” depending on the destination chosen. Apart from the reopening of China and the return of the Spaniards to Asian destinations such as Thailand or Indonesia, their commitment goes through Albanian“a very interesting destination where a lot is being built and that is taking all the steps so that it can be a very competitive destination and well connected with Spain”.
Destinia is set to grow by 20%
Destinia’s objective for 2023 is to continue growing. For this year, the challenge is to do it by 20%. “For us it is essential. We want to try to exceed 220 million turnover, although we have already stopped thinking about that figure because we are so impacted by inflation. We want to improve reservations by 20% and sell 20% more.” The other challenge involves increase its presence outside of Spain: “Before the pandemic, 60% of our sales were here. Now they are 39% and the idea is that they continue to drop.” To do this, they will bet on making their product known in large source markets such as the United Kingdom, Germany, France or the United States, to increase the weight of sales in those geographies over the total.
Currently, Destinia sells in 95 countries with a website available in 24 languages and 33 different currencies. It has 207 employees and they hope to increase this figure by 15%, although the lack of talent in the industry, which affects both the technological part and the product or customer service part, could reduce their plans. Not afraid of competition from Airbnb, “a new player that has recently entered the market and has grown rapidly”, since its presence “is better for the consumer and for the market”. “Despite the fact that at a technological level it has relatively simple processes, it is a very handmade product that shows that you can become a very relevant actor and grow without limits if you do things well,” explains Fernández.
The executive interprets this success because, sometimes, the tourism industry “confuses what is very difficult with what is valuable.” His plans go through “continuing to give value to the customer” instead of trying to implement new trends in his business: “The metaverse is not working. The ‘blockchain’ as a technology applied to the rest of the business processes does not add value to the client. What it does do is that you continue to have the best product, that it is very simple for the customer, very fast, competitive and that the service is very good, implementing things like local means of payment, that it is well priced, that they take good care of you and pick up the phone… 90% of customers want a good product and good service”, he concludes.