After months of working on the front line in the battle against COVID-19, Spanish nurse Yone Alberich was absolutely ready for a holiday, but the question was how. Going on holiday generally meant flying abroad — but with the virus still very much in the air, she did not want to take a plane.
Nor did Alberich want to stay in a hotel or be around crowds of people. So she and her husband rented a motor home.
“The idea was to keep away from people to avoid getting infected,” said the 32-year-old, who has a toddler and lives in the Valencian coastal town of Castellon. “And with COVID, what could be better than traveling around with your house on your back?”
With social distancing the new norm across Europe to avoid any fresh outbreaks, there has been a shift in thinking about holidays, with a recent survey showing 90 percent of Spaniards would remain in Spain rather than traveling abroad.
Eighty-three percent planned to use their own vehicle over public transport.
Fabrizio Muzzati, who runs specialist Spanish travel agency Aquiestoy Caravaning, said that many people who never thought about a motor-home holiday are now considering it.
“At a time when the whole world is very much looking for a sense of security, there are a lot of people who are going to give it a go because of the circumstances,” Muzzati said.
As travel restrictions were eased, motor-home rentals resumed “intensively,” the Spanish mobile home and camper van association ASEICAR said last month, suggesting that it might be “key to reviving tourism this summer.”
It is not just in Spain.
“Since the rollback, there’s been a real craze for motor homes, everywhere,” European Motor-home Federation president Francois Feuillet said. “The motor home means freedom, savings and being green. Now we can add health and safety and for us, that’s a real boon.”
Across Europe, there has been growing interest in the sector and today, there are 5 million users and 2 million vehicles in circulation, industry figures show.
In Germany, Europe’s main market, more than 10,000 new motor homes were registered in May, an increase of 32 percent year-on-year, while France added 3,529 new registrations — up nearly 2 percent.
In Spain, a much smaller market, but where interest is growing rapidly, there were 1,208 new vehicles registered last month — up 20 percent from last year, ASEICAR figures show.
There has also been a jump in demand in the rental market.
Yescapa, a peer-to-peer rental platform, last month registered more than 32,500 bookings across Europe, with requests for this month and next month 60 percent higher than in the same period last year. Of that number, just under one-third — or 9,435 — were in Spain.
Despite the reopening of Europe’s borders on June 15, most people remain reluctant to go abroad, Yescapa cofounder Benoit Panel told reporters.
“Since COVID, there have been almost no cross-booking rentals,” he said, referring to travelers booking outside their country of origin, who usually constitute 20 percent of reservations.
First-time renter Jose Pascal Guiral, who runs a ceramics export business and always holidays abroad, took a motor home as soon as lockdown ended, spending a week touring scenic mountain passes in the Spanish Pyrenees.
“It’s so much nicer than going in a plane or a hotel, it gives you a real sense of freedom. You go for a week and you feel like you’ve been on holiday for a month,” he told reporters.
Julio Barrenengoa Gomez, director of Caravanas Holidays, said the crisis has increased interest in national tourism.
“People tend to want a motor home to travel around Europe, but this year, they’re looking to stay here in Spain,” he told reporters. “With all our desire to visit Europe, it seems like we’ve forgotten just how beautiful Spain is. This year is going to boost national tourism.”
Others believe the health crisis would accelerate a shift away from the mass tourism of resorts, cruises and package holidays.
“This pandemic will change people’s habits, because they’ll be less likely to stay in crowded places,” said Fernando Ortiz, director of established Spanish motor-home brand Benimar.
“Not necessarily because of the risk — they will find a vaccine — but because people like being able to change their plans from moment to moment while traveling,” he said. “And that is likely to last.”
Manon Billing contributed reporting from Paris
‘BIG LOSS’: This year might see the last generation of Huawei’s Kirin chips, as their production would stop next month because they are made using US technology Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies Co (華為) is running out of processor chips to make smartphones due to US sanctions and would be forced to stop production of its own most advanced chips, a company executive has said, in a sign of growing damage to Huawei’s business from US pressure. Huawei, one of the biggest producers of smartphones and network equipment, is at the center of US-Chinese tension over technology and security. Washington last year cut off Huawei’s access to US components and technology, and those penalties were tightened in May, when the White House barred vendors worldwide from using US
’WHITE BOX’: The open platform would give local firms access to Cisco’s cloud-based mobile network to develop 5G telecom equipment and tap into the global market The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) yesterday introduced a new 5G “open lab” in collaboration with US-based information technology and networking giant Cisco Systems Inc to address the rapidly growing “white box” 5G networking equipment market. The open lab will be a platform where Taiwanese manufacturers can access Cisco’s cloud-based mobile network to develop their own 5G telecom equipment, such as small-cell base stations, network switches, modems and Internet of things (IoT) devices, a ministry statement said. The open platform would allow Taiwanese manufacturers to tap into the lucrative 5G telecom equipment market, which was previously monopolized by Nokia Oyj, Ericsson AB
CORPORATE SCANDAL: Cathay Life has invested NT$13.3 billion in Bank Mayapada since 2015, but the latest loss of NT$8.8 billion has completely written off its investment Cathay Life Insurance Co (國泰人壽) yesterday said it would recognize an investment loss of NT$8.8 billion (US$298.1 million) in Indonesia’s Bank Mayapada Internasional Tbk PT due to concerns about the lender’s operations amid a corporate scandal. The company said it would revise its earnings result for June, from a net profit of NT$6.52 billion to a net loss of NT$520 million, its first monthly loss over the past 17 months. After booking an investment loss of NT$5.2 billion in Bank Mayapada earlier this year, Cathay Life has so far recognized total investment losses of NT$14 billion in the lender, executive vice president
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) yesterday reported that revenue last month expanded 25 percent annually, but fell 12.8 percent month-on-month to NT$105.96 billion (US$3.59 billion). In the first seven months of this year, the chipmaker’s revenue surged 33.6 percent to NT$727.26 billion, compared with NT$544.46 billion a year earlier. TSMC has said it aims to grow its revenue by more than 20 percent this year. The company has since May 15 stopped taking new orders from Huawei Technologies Co (華為), its second-biggest customer after Apple Inc, due to the US’ restrictions on exports containing US technologies. TSMC has no plans to