I heard a very uplifting program last Sunday on National Public Radio hosted by Rick Steves the travel writer and TV personality. (Program 631: The Ravenmaster; Future Travel; Tour Business in 2021)
It was all interesting, but the discussion of future travel and tour business particularly so, I felt, because ecotourism supports a lot of wildlife conservation efforts worldwide and it’s taken a beating from cancelations due to the pandemic.
The key points to take-away are that we have passed through some tough times and the travel and tour industry has suffered more than many sectors in the economy, but many operators are still alive and kicking! Preparation and adaptation being key to their survival.
The well-organized ones have maintained good customer relations and are already taking future bookings. Many people are now taking driving vacations in their home countries, and it’s perfectly OK to start fantasizing about where we’d like to visit as things begin to open up.
An interesting adaptation, here in Louisiana, is that some of the State Parks are now offering ‘Glamping’, glamorous camping in Louisiana State Parks! Said to be ideal for people who want nights under canvas without discomfort and inconvenience usually associated with a night in the woods. It is said to be ideal for families new to camping, there are safari style tents set up semi-permanently on raised pads with comfortable furniture, propane heaters, BBQ grills etc. This sort of thing is a speciality of the African Safari tour operators too.
Another good case study that I am aware of, for this preparation and adaptation, is the Kenyan Safari and tour company named Shavicol that has been catering to domestic Kenyan Safari travelers in the temporary absence of safari tourists from overseas. By diversifying their offering to appeal to management development staff trips for local businesses and art sessions on the grasslands of the Maasai Mara they are keeping operations afloat.
Yes, I’m fantasizing about some glamping in the short term, also a return to Malaysia’s Pulaus Tenggol and Tioman in Southeast Asia! Also, ecotouring in Equatorial Africa; Kenya has elephants, and coral reefs in the Indian Ocean.
More and more people are getting inoculated now and are turning their minds to travel plans once more. Steves says small group tours where everyone in the party knows each other (and presumably their inoculation history) are understandably popular and this is likely to continue into the future.
I’ve heard that now, many airlines, airports, subways and buses have never been cleaner and if you are inoculated Steves says you can reasonably expect companies to offer tempting packages to woo travelers. Airlines have become more accommodating about allowing passenger refunds and the rescheduling of passengers and this is encouraging people to make bookings. Even so, people are tending to book closer to their travel dates than they used to and this trend is likely to continue until all uncertainty is resolved.
Rick Steves suggests that as regions return to more normal circumstances, the small personalized tour groups and holiday stays that cater to small groups and emphasize hygiene and safety are likely to continue to do well. God bless them and may God bless you too.
By Summer 2022 travel is expected to have largely normalized for the inoculated, all being well.
C. Paxton has received no personal benefit from this article.