Sun sets on “Vakanz” holiday fair

Over one weekend in January 2020, the Vakanz fair’s 230 stands saw some 30,000 people.  Photo: LaLa La Photo, Keven Erickson, Krystyna Dul/Maison Moderne/Archives

Over one weekend in January 2020, the Vakanz fair’s 230 stands saw some 30,000 people.  Photo: LaLa La Photo, Keven Erickson, Krystyna Dul/Maison Moderne/Archives

The “Vakanz” holiday fair will not take place this year. And it might be gone for good, though a 2024 edition is not yet ruled out.

The Vakanz fair, dedicated to travel and tourism, has long been a flagship event at Luxexpo’s The Box, but possibly no more. “The reason lies in the timing of our events,” explains Morgan GromyMorgan Gromy, director of Luxexpo, the organiser of the fair. “An event of this importance is prepared at least six months in advance and, last summer, the travel and tourism sector was still in the dark as regards medium-term visibility.”

The last edition took place in January 2020, a few weeks before the pandemic hit. At the time, over a single weekend, the fair welcomed 30,000 people and had 230 stands. In 2018, the event hit similar (if slightly lower) numbers. The covid-19 crisis snuffed out the 2021 and 2022 editions. “In the summer of 2021, we thought about organising an edition in 2022, but with the appearance of the Omicron variant, we gave up,” says Gromy.

On the other hand, industry professionals, including travel agencies, did not insist on the revival of the show this year. “Vakanz was an important event in Luxembourg, a barometer for the sector and a convivial moment with customers. But with or without the show, we see our customers in the travel agencies. If we analyse it, the return on investment was not good. From a commercial point of view, the costs were high in terms of personnel and expenses, while our sales were not higher with the Vakanz fair,” comments Fernand HeinischFernand Heinisch, president of the Union of Luxembourg Travel Agents (ULAV).

ULAV does not envisage a 2024 edition

After two difficult years, the Luxembourg travel and tourism sector is undergoing a major transformation and is looking to reinvent itself. “We will take time to think about a possible edition in 2024 but, before that, we need to understand the challenges of the travel sector, how we can translate new consumer behaviour into events and find a different approach,” says Gromy. “There is still a demand, especially from foreign players who want to reach Luxembourg customers.”

For the ULAV, a new edition of the Vakanz fair is in any case not on the agenda. “There are discussions, but we are not interested. Our figures are higher than those of 2019 for the moment and we are seeing good customer numbers in our agencies with good trends in cruise travel and far-flung destinations,” Heinisch says.