dear partners and friends of TUI,
Hardly any other area in our lives was as shaken up in the Corona year as travel. To this day, no other economic sector has had to struggle with the pandemic as much as tourism. This is also true for TUI. In the last few years, we were able to grow successfully and we started the year 2020 with a record number of bookings. Then the pandemic came and changed many things.
In the days and weeks after the lockdown in March, our full attention was on repatriating our guests. In no time at all, we brought hundreds of thousands of guests from all corners of the world safely back home. Months of uncertainty followed, during which we were unable to do what we do best at TUI: Creating unforgettable holiday moments for our guests. Instead, colleagues in the travel agencies and service centres had to cancel millions of bookings and refund customer money. Until the summer, cancellations and refunds often took much longer than we would have liked. After all, before Corona, no one could have imagined reversing so many trips at the same time. In the beginning, this was done manually, so to speak, but today we have created automated systems for this. I very much regret that we have had to rely heavily on the patience and flexibility of our guests and partners. Many things worked out well during the crisis. But, of course, there were also mistakes. We were not always able to fulfil expectations in us, we were not always quick and accessible enough.
For this I apologise to you, our customers and the staff in the travel agencies and our distribution partners. But I would also like to take this opportunity to say thank you for your understanding, your feedback and your loyalty to TUI in very difficult months.
If you ask people what they missed in the pandemic year, one thing often tops a long list: travel. At the beginning of the new year, continents and countries are more isolated from each other than they have been for many decades, borders are closed, government restrictions limit the freedom to travel. Nobody wants that, and it won't stay that way in the long run. Travelling is recreation and relaxation. That is important – holidays are a very intensive time of the year, especially for families, to find each other, free from the constraints of everyday life.
But travel is so much more. Travelling broadens one's horizons and creates space for new encounters. When we travel, we realise what makes cultures unique – but above all what connects us across all regions of the world. There is no substitute for personal experiences and encounters while travelling.
As painful as the governmental travel restrictions were, they were especially important at the beginning of the pandemic to bring the infection under control. In the meantime, there are reliable tests that can create safe travel corridors, and effective vaccines that have been applied worldwide since the end of December. I hope we will use all opportunities in the new year to get back to open borders as soon as possible. Even though we are in the middle of a global second wave of Corona, we see light at the end of the tunnel. TUI is well positioned for the post-pandemic world. The 2021 holiday season will certainly be different than before the pandemic, but we will be able to travel more again – safely, responsibly and, above all, with great pleasure. I am looking forward to that, too – and I am sure most of you feel the same way.
Thank you for staying connected to TUI. Despite all the challenges, let us start the new year with confidence and optimism.
Here's to a good year 2021!