There’s no denying it: Covid-19 has had a devastating impact across the board of the travel industry. Airlines were grounded, cruise lines shut down, while giant holiday companies such as Jet2 and Tui had to cancel trips for hundreds of thousands of disappointed holidaymakers.
The impact on smaller travel companies has been particularly crushing. Some have disappeared while others are doing what they can to stay in business. The looming June 8 quarantine rules for those arriving in the UK is yet a further blow to recovery.
Fortunately, there’s a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, as countries around the world are easing lockdowns and prepare to rebuild their economies and revive tourism.
Greece, Italy, France and Spain for example, are opening iconic sights, beaches and restaurants and preparing to welcome back tourism. Talk of “air bridges” holds hope for quarantine rules to be abandoned between certain countries.
At The Travel Magazine, we focus on bringing our readers important and informative news updates on the impact of Coronavirus on travel plans.
Throughout this time we have kept in close contact with our friends in the travel industry. Here’s what they had to say:
According to Massimo Valentini, Founder of luxury villa rental service Puglia Paradise now that lockdown is easing in Italy the domestic demand for villa holidays has spiralled fourfold in just two weeks.
Italians are looking for villas and will never renounce their holidays.
Massimo is hopeful that his villas will be fully booked in August, as Italian families can enjoy a socially-distanced holiday in a private villa.
Puglia Paradise is implementing new health and safety measures to keep holidaymaker’s safe, including equipping each villa with detailed guidelines on the social distancing rules of the region and how to ensure a safe, Covid-free environment.
Jumbari Family Safaris
Lisa Nel, General Manager of Jumbari Family Safaris, also highlighted the worry her clients had over the unpredictability of international flights amidst the global travel ban. This is a valid concern as at the moment, most countries’ borders remain closed to non-essential travel.
However, in a survey conducted by Jumbari with their travel clients, Lisa was pleased to see that almost half (47 per cent) hope to travel in early 2021. She told us:
Overall, we feel positive about travel going forward. We predict that family travel will be highly sought-after once the global travel bans are lifted as families will be looking to spend quality time together after being cooped up indoors and potentially missing their 2020 family holiday.
Jumbari is setting its sights on international travel for 2021. For the moment, they are seeing increased interest from the domestic market, so this will be their main focus for the second part of 2020.
One Foot Abroad/Follow the Camino
Our holidays are well suited to socially distanced travel away from the crowds, back to nature and with a family focus.
Interestingly, Sean has seen a huge increase (35 per cent) of enquiries from travellers hoping to book a walking holiday to complete the different Camino de Santiago routes – these usually take around six to seven weeks. Sean believes that following months of isolation, travellers are looking for more meaningful experiences close to nature.
However, like Lisa, Sean is concerned about the international travel market in the short term, hence his decision to focus on 2021. This doesn’t mean travellers should hold off booking their holidays, as both Follow the Camino and One Foot Abroad are offering flexible bookings for all of 2020 – travellers are able to change the date of any bookings made in 2020 at no additional cost.
At Urban Adventures, part of the Intrepid Travel brand, things have been particularly tough as their core focus is city tours. The company were forced to close temporarily for parts of April and May, but things are now looking brighter.
Klaudija Janzelj, Global Sales Director of Urban Adventures, told me some cities are starting to allow small gatherings, and they are in conversation with these tourist boards to start offering private and small-group tours. She said:
The travel industry and tour operators are so ready to open up.
Klaudija highlighted the importance of finding the right balance between global policy and what’s appropriate for each region. There are still many uncertainties in the travel industry, but she is cautiously optimistic that travel will pick up again early next year.
Holidaymakers may remain hesitant to book a flight right now as there is no certainty when normal service- or something resembling normal – will resume. We may not be out of the woods yet, but happily, there’s one thing everyone can agree on: we will travel again.