Travels in the time of Covid
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
First of all, thank you. I mean it. I want to thank you all for being here. The last few months have been challenging, but the positivity and energy I’m picking up from speaking to you and my four DMCs have given me a real boost through these times.
Many of you will still be working from home. I know it has its benefits – there can’t be many who miss the daily commute – but WFH does have its drawbacks, especially when the whole household is at home. I particularly salute those of you who are juggling working full time with school-age kids in tow but am also mindful of how lonely a home desk can be when you’re used to the hubbub of a busy office, and you’re now on your own all day, every day.
Usually, a WMR newsletter is for telling you about exciting new products and how my DMCs can help you source and book the right experiences for your clients. This one will obviously be a bit different. But the objective in many ways remains the same – to reassure you that I am always here for you.
If you’re at the stage when another Zoom presentation might just push you over the edge, I’m happy to meet up in person to provide training, support and generally re-establish our relationship – although with the latest London restrictions, it looks like we’ll need to find a café with outdoor seating, or possibly a park bench, a field of cliff top for the foreseeable!
LATA Expo 2020
LATA Expo 2020 is taking place this week with both Travel Excellence and Blumar taking part in this virtual event. If you’re not participating (or even if you are) I’m always ready to help you arrange a digital meeting with any of my clients whenever it suits, subject to each DMC’s availability and, of course, the time difference.
Recently, I’ve had some enquiries about the practicalities of travelling in Latin America at the moment, so without further ado, let’s focus on what’s been going on with Attipica, Blumar, Southbound and Travel Excellence.
Argentina has endured the harshest restrictions during their lockdown. It’s hard to imagine an Argentina that bans its people from hugging and kissing, but this is how it has been for over 200 days…. But, spring is in the air and summer is coming. And, as Barbie says, Argentines are resilient by nature and have recovered from the previous crises they’ve endured. Points to keep in mind:
- The long-awaited announcement on 1st October about resuming domestic flights was pushed back to mid-October so these are still grounded
- Argentina’s international borders are closed and there is no indication as to when international flights will be allowed to resume
- Currently, Argentines require a permit to leave their neighbourhood and cannot leave their home cities, but an easing in these restrictions is hotly anticipated
- Restaurants in Buenos Aires have been allowed to reopen but only if they have outdoor seating
Team Attipica are all still working from home but on reduced hours. They’re being kept busy with providing future proposals for the local corporate market, but what’s really keeping them motivated and enthused are the enquiries and interest they’re receiving from UK-based Tour Operators – thank you. They just hope they can fulfil them soon, especially with the Solar Eclipse coming up in December.
Brazil’s hotels were closed for a few months but the majority have been reopening over the last few weeks with fewer rooms, in accordance with Covid protocols. With 30 days of annual leave a year, Brazilians who are solvent are travelling within their own country. Domestic tourism has enjoyed something of a boom, with hotels and pousadas in the coastal areas enjoying strong occupancy. Points to keep in mind:
- The use of face masks in streets, public spaces, parks, and on public transport including taxis is mandatory across the country
- Many non-essential services that were closed (i.e. restaurants, shops and bars) have reopened in the main cities
The entire Blumar team have been working from home but are beginning to return to office-working. Paula has been dividing her time between Buzios and Rio. She spent the month of September working from home in Buzios, making the most of the ocean and her surroundings but she’d have happily swapped all her spectacular sunsets for a single afternoon in London. This just goes to show that we all yearn for a change of scene if we’re stuck in one place for a long time. All good things come to an end and Paula is now back in Rio, and working from their brand new office that they were moving into just as the world went into lockdown. Carolina juggled homeschooling with working from home and she kept herself fit and sane with regular runs on along the beaches in Rio.
Chile also endured a tough lockdown with residents needing permits to travel between different regions. The healthcare system managed the peak of cases well, mainly because the private and public systems cooperated. Even during the peak, hospitals still had 30% capacity. This should help instil confidence into your clients who are contemplating a trip to Chile, once they’re allowed.
- Domestic travel restrictions are being eased this month. Southbound sent a very informative newsletter last week – please let me know if you didn’t receive it
- News regarding international arrivals and entry requirements is expected over the next few weeks
Southbound have been managing with a team of ten, with the remainder of their workforce on furlough. While they’ve not had any tourists to look after, Southbound have been busy working on extensive improvements to their already-impressive in-house systems. The focus for 2021 will be Low Season travel to Chile’s off-the-beaten-track areas with attractive offers being actively sourced to destinations like Aysen. The self-drive itineraries developed by Southbound are perfect for visitors who want to experience the wilderness. If you need a reminder of the sort of experiences your clients might be interested in, do feel free to dip into my Low Season blog.
Costa Rica is often a step ahead of its neighbours, thanks to the Pura Vida mentality of its people. 2020 is no exception. Of course, tourism numbers are down but they’re already welcoming visitors from Spain, Portugal and the US. Points to keep in mind
- National Parks are open once more
- Most hotels have reopened
- Beaches are now open until 10pm on weekdays and 8pm at weekends
- Arriving passengers must pass a Covid test 72 hours prior to arrival
- Travel insurance with Covid cover is mandatory but can be bought on arrival
- For the latest, please see https://www.travelexcellence.com/news/updates
90% of the Travel Excellence team have been working from home for the last 5 years and have adapted well to working through the pandemic. That said, all staff are working part-time and restructuring has impacted 60% of the team, but all your favourite TE peeps (Cynthia, Rebeca, Angie, Laura, Marco, Ixcanil, Kattia, Zianny, Marcel, Maria Jesus, Estefanny and Viviana) are looking forward to helping you plan and book your clients’ trips – as soon as they’re given the go-ahead to travel.
Of course, everyone on both sides of the Atlantic understands that no one is going anywhere until the FCDO advice changes and travel to Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Costa Rica is allowed once more but as Carlos says, ‘with every day that passes, we are one day closer to improvement/normality.’
Do get in touch for a chat – I’m genuinely enthused when I hear from you.