2 July 2021: We have had some interesting conversations with our DMCs over the past week. Conversations that begin to shine a light at the end of what has been a very dark tunnel.
As the vaccination roll out continues apace, some countries are showing more enthusiasm for planning their future group and incentive travel than others, but that enthusiasm is most certainly evident.
Vaccination uptake is important both for the traveller, and the destination, with countries setting their own entry requirements based on the percentage of the population protected by vaccinations, and requirements for inbound travellers to have received vaccinations and taken PCR tests.
Outbound markets with the most long-haul positivity seem to be the USA, Brazil and Scandinavia. Europeans appear to be more focused on short haul destinations for now, but still with a keen desire to travel.
Currently, FIT travellers represent most of the calls – and as our DMCs previously focused predominantly on the group and incentive market, this does not represent the greater part of their business – but as needs must, many have adapted to cater to FIT requests, pending the return of group and incentive travel, and are more than happy to tailor-make programmes to suite family groups and individual travellers.
The destination with the most inbound positivity, as I write this, is South Africa. The entire team has returned to work, and there are several medium to large groups confirmed and deposited for late 2021, with a keen interest from several for early 2022.
Our Asia-based DMCs are reporting an increase in requests for the 2021/22 season, but as borders to most countries are still currently closed, confirmations are pending. The greatest barrier to the reopening of travel will undoubtedly be the availability of region-wide flights. Many groups and individual travellers to Asia visit more than one country – so the revival of this type of travel arrangement will depend heavily on the restarting of local flights and availability of routes.
Our Thailand DMC has taken the opportunity to reassess their travel partners and to refocus on environment and resource sustainability – supporting local communities and projects rather than feeding the already large conglomerates. There will be some amazing travel programmes available in Asia once we can take to the skies again.
Saudi Arabia has been building a strong base to launch the destination to the world as soon as borders open again. With tourist offices opened in Europe, UK, Japan, and others planned, this represents a new destination for most groups and incentives, with huge potential. Visas will be readily available, and all visitors welcomed whether groups, incentives, or individual travellers. Prepare to see a large Saudi presence at trade shows in the coming year!
UK is currently operating a traffic light travel system, fraught with confusion and frequent updates. Those destinations on the Green list can arrive into the UK without quarantine, but with testing; those on Amber must quarantine ‘at home’ for 10 days – again with testing. Those on the Red list must quarantine at a designated hotel, at their own expense. There are ‘exceptions’ for business travellers, but the changes to these rules must be carefully monitored.
In discussions with a UK-based travel counsellor, we learned that holiday destinations are already ‘sold out’ for peak travel periods in 2022 and key dates in 2023 are filling fast. Contrary to public opinion that destinations are ‘crying out’ for business, there is pent up demand, rescheduled travel arrangements and in some cases, reduced availability. The UAE reports high occupancy in beach-front hotels, and premium rates, as do Caribbean and Mediterranean destinations. Flight availability is not what it was, and with no indication on how many seats will return, the recommendation is to make your plans now and book ahead of time. Do not leave it until the last minute, expecting deals.
Whether for groups, incentives, or individual travellers, planning ahead with comprehensive insurance cover and your own personal/corporate risk assessments will be the order of the day for some time to come.
Although our DMCs are mostly known for inbound group and incentive travel arrangements, many have adjusted to provide tailor-make arrangements for individual travellers. Whatever their offerings, members of World of DMCs are reputable travel providers in their country of operation, and we strongly recommend you reach out with your requests, and to find out the latest in travel opportunities before you book in this fast-changing environment. We strongly recommend working with reputable travel partners rather than trying to arrange trips yourself or online. You will be better informed, and better protected when working with professionals, and will probably save money in the long run.
We ALL eagerly await the return of our business, and wish you a safe flight, wherever you go this year.
World of DMCs
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