CONFERENCE REPORT Europe’s largest Latin America trade show goes virtual. Katie McGonagle reports


Latin America set for 2021 pick-up and long recovery 75%

ravel to Latin America could take until 2025 to rebound to pre-Covid levels, despite signs of

recovery in flight bookings to the region in 2021, according to the latest travel industry forecasts. Data from flight analyst

ForwardKeys found global air traffic was down 97% for South America and 90% for Central America from July to September 2020. But ticketed flight bookings for the first quarter of 2021 showed travel to South America down by 71% year on year, better than air travel worldwide which showed a drop of 83%. Colin Stewart, chairman of Lata (Latin American Travel Association),

Journey Latin America clients opt to postpone, not cancel, their trips

said: “Latin America is performing better than the global average and that gives new hope that as and when people are able to travel, they will do. [We are seeing] more forward bookings as time goes on. There’s definitely a feeling that borders are starting to open and that international routes are starting to operate again.” Panama reopened its borders to

international travellers on October 12, Lata champions training for agents

Nearly 1,000 UK agents have completed Latin America training in a drive to increase trade engagement and rebuild confidence in the region. Lata chairman Colin Stewart said: “We have been discussing agent

engagement for some time, and 2020 was going to be a big year for us in developing that relationship with agents. “Research suggested six out of 10 travel agents in the UK were either

unfamiliar with Latin America or knew little. We created an agent training portal with OTT, specifically targeted at travel agents, with top-level information. Over time, we will develop that message into a lot more detail.” This year’s flagship trade show

Lata Expo ran as a virtual event from October 12-16, attracting 73 exhibitors and 117 buyers from 27 countries. Lata Expo 2021 is due to take place

at Battersea Evolution in London from June 14-16, with one-day events in Paris and Amsterdam the following week.

Colin Stewart

while Peru reopened to some regional travellers on October 5, though both remain off-limits to UK travellers based on Foreign Office advice and the UK government’s list of travel corridors. Forecasts by travel consultancy

ICF presented at Lata Expo suggest travel to Latin America could recover to 71% of 2019 levels by next year, but would not reach 100% until 2025. Sarah Bradley, managing director

of Journey Latin America, said: “For those of us who operate to Latin America, most have discounted the first quarter [of 2021] because

Brazil and Mexico

top flight search list Brazil, Mexico and Colombia were the most searched-for destinations in Latin America in September for travel between October and December 2020, according to ForwardKeys data. Costa Rica and Argentina also made the top five, while the most searched-for flight routes were from London to Cancun, Sao Paulo and Mexico City.

Panama’s Islas Secas add charter transfers Luxury island resort Islas Secas is introducing a charter flight when it reopens on December 16 to reduce travel time from Panama City. “People

Machu Picchu, Peru

the lead-in time is so short now. “Most people who were due to

travel this year have postponed rather than cancelled – initially it was about 50:50, but since July about 75%-80% of people are postponing – so the period from April onwards looks very strong compared to normal.” Citing a recent customer survey,

Bradley added: “Fewer customers now think they’ll be travelling to Latin America in 2021, which I think is due to the shortened time frames, but more think they’ll be travelling in 2022. I think this points to a longer recovery.”

booking this style of property want convenience. On the days it’s not operating, it will be available for private charter as well,” said UK representative David Bruce. The resort is set on a 14-island archipelago.

Lata Foundation helps nine projects The Lata Foundation, the association’s charitable arm, has supported nine projects since launching a Covid-19 emergency appeal in June. They include food parcels for Inca Trail porters, training and business grants for female- focused project XtraOrdinary Women in Nicaragua, and healthcare supplies for medical organisation Healing Venezuela.


22 OCTOBER 2020

PICTURE: Shutterstock

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