By Rachel Coffey, director of sales and business development, The Travel Corporation
Borders will open and travel will return in 2021, it’s just a matter of when and how quickly, so there are lots of reasons to be optimistic about the year ahead. The roll-out of the vaccine, reduction in the length of quarantining and progress with rapid testing and digital health passports are combining to help restore confidence, and we are seeing the green shoots of travel plans and bookings being made. Before the end of the year I believe we’ll see something close to the freedoms we knew pre-Covid, and that we so desperately missed in 2020.
After the challenges of 2020, there are three things that are very clear to me:
From the touring perspective, I’m proud of how the industry has come together, for example in establishing collective health and safety protocols, and I think we need to work together even more in 2021 to better communicate the benefits of touring in a post-pandemic world.
Many operators, ourselves included, have introduced a number of innovations this year that will make touring an even more attractive option, from smaller group sizes, private bubble options and, in an industry-first from TTC, a Wellbeing Director who will travel with our groups (over a certain size) to ensure all the wellbeing needs of all our guests are looked after.
Reflecting the current mood for open spaces, we are seeing more interest in epic outdoors or more rural itineraries – for example National Parks in the USA or Insight Vacations’ off-the-beaten-track Country Roads series. And we are continuing to see the growth of our flexible touring model with Costsaver, which is launching in to Africa for the first time in 2021 and which hits that sweet spot for the typical FIT traveller that just wants to be taken care of a bit more in these unusual times.
We’re expecting the traditional ‘peaks’ season to happen a little later in 2021, so for the first quarter we are focusing our efforts on building awareness of the benefits of touring per se, working with our agent partners.
Above all, a guided group holiday is all about making connections, from the local families, artisans and experts you meet along the way to the fellow travellers that so often become lifelong friends. And if there’s one thing we have missed more than travel, it’s human connections. A tour can bring these two things together like no other holiday.