Czechs have already started buying summer vacations to seaside spots for next year

Early sales indicate that Greece, not Croatia, will be the hotspot next summer -- so long as restrictions on travel are lifted.

Samantha Tatro

Written by Samantha Tatro
Published on 26.10.2020 16:00 (updated on 26.10.2020)

Travel agencies have posted their first offers for summer 2021, and Czech residents seem optimistic, purchasing more trips to sunny, seaside spots than previous years.

The spike in sales comes after a particularly tough year for many travel agencies. Many agencies will end 2020 with 10 to 20 percent of their usual sales, according to a report in Seznam Zpravy.

But there's a bright spot on the horizon: Czechs have bought a surprising amount of "early bird" trips, or trips sold way in advance, for summer 2021.

According to Invia, the largest travel agency on the market, many Czechs are hoping to travel to Greece, Bulgaria or Tunisia next summer, so long as coronavirus travel restrictions allow them to leave the country.

Invia saw a big spike in trips to Greece: a 70 percent jump in sales this year compared to last year.

"The reason is that travel agencies have published catalogs and there is interest now. People spend money on holidays in 2021," Michal Tůma, head of the travel agency Invia, reportedly said. "We now sell Tunisia fifty percent more than last year, because it is still flying to Tunisia and it is one of the destinations where you can go on holiday without any testing."

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Another major travel agency, Exim Tours, said they expect Greece will be one of the most popular destinations for 2021. The company has not yet launched their early bird sales.

"During the summer season, Greece, together with Bulgaria, was clearly the most interesting destination for the Czechs. There are several reasons for this - little infected, preparedness and also security measures in the country," said Petr Kostka, sales director of the travel agency Exim Tours. "The Greeks simply controlled the situation. What will be a hit next season, but it is clear from my point of view: Egypt, Turkey, Greece or Tunisia."

One of the reasons some Czechs are booking trips is due to their vouchers. When the first wave of the pandemic hit, many agencies issued their clients vouchers for their canceled trips to use for later in the year.

Those vouchers have an expiration date, though, and some Czech residents waited until later in the year to use them for next year's trip, according to Invia.

"There are a large number of people on the market who have vouchers valid until the end of next September, and these are people who will want to travel, but the offer is limited. But as soon as the destination opened or the first flight was presented, most of it was immediately sold out," said Tůma.

It's not good news just yet, though. Travel agencies still expect to see only 60 percent of their normal bookings next year as the pandemic continues.

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But Czechs aren't interested in certain destinations, at least not yet. Trips to the Maldives, Thailand or Mauritius received very little interest. In the past, residents bought hundreds of these tours to exotic destinations -- but this year, Invia only recorded a couple dozen inquiries.

2020 was a turbulent year for Czech travel agencies, many of which will close out the year with much lower sales than previous years.

"We have become a highly profitable company that will have negative profitability this year, it's completely understandable and I don't think it's a shame. But fortunately we have the background of a strong investor who supports us. We will somehow survive this year," Tůma said in an interview with Seznam Zprávy.