Demand for alternative destinations rising amid southern Europe heatwave

The current European heatwave is prompting a rise in demand for alternative summer holiday destinations among affluent Brits.

Rebecca Masri, founder of private members’ club and hotel booking app Little Emperors, told Virtuoso Travel Week in Las Vegas that extreme temperatures in popular summer destinations like Italy and Greece last month had led to a bookings spike for Norway and Copenhagen.

Europe has experienced some of its hottest temperatures this summer, with parts of Greece, eastern Spain, Sardinia, Sicily and southern Italy exceeding 45 degrees.

“We’ve started to see a really large increase in demand for destinations like Norway and Copenhagen, which wouldn’t normally be destinations we would book for summer,” Masri said.

More: Heatwave in Med could lead to bookings shift, say agents

“I think with Europe being so hot, people are looking for cooler destinations and it’s given a really big opportunity to the Nordics to come forward as a summer destination.

“We struggled this summer with parts of Europe like Sardinia and the Greek islands. With our clients being younger, generally their kids are much younger, and people don’t want to travel with a young baby to a destination that’s 48 degrees. It’s just not pleasant, and with cancellation policies, they can’t come out of those bookings.

“Norway, Copenhagen and the fjords have taken a big chunk of our summer bookings which has been really interesting for us – we’ve never really booked those destinations over the summer period – so yes we’ve definitely acknowledged a change due to the changing climate that we’re experiencing.”

Speaking on a panel at the event for luxury travel professionals and providers from more than 100 countries on Monday, Masri added that destinations like the Alps – historically popular for ski and festive holidays  – were also performing well during the summer period.

“There’s no snow anymore during Christmas so we’re booking more and more summer in Courchevel and Gstaad – these destinations are coming up in our bookings over the summer instead of festive.”

Jamsheed Pocha, co-founder of The Pelican, a US-based members’ club specialising in luxury travel, echoed Masri’s comments.

“We’ve been sending Canadians and Americans to Switzerland, Austria and Germany, which traditionally haven’t been as popular as Italy, France and Greece in the summer months. With the climate being so much hotter, these destinations that have amazing spa product and beautiful wilderness are a great grab for people.

“We’re then moving that summer demand for those European destinations to the shoulder months of September and October.”

Sharyn Kitchener, managing director of Australian agency Mosman Travel, agreed the heatwave could have an effect on when international travellers visit Europe.

“We had a lot of people in Europe during those heatwaves; they were already there so they just sat on the beach or swam in the pool – there wasn’t much they could do about it,” she said.“But I think moving forward, people will think about this year’s weather and maybe think differently on where they’re going to go or what time of year they are going to travel to Europe.”

More: Heatwave in Med could lead to bookings shift, say agents

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