Santa Claus Village, Lapland

Santa’s Lapland is latest to cancel Christmas programme

Juliet Dennis

Operators are cancelling or reviewing trips to Lapland as travel uncertainty and restrictions threaten to ruin the magic of the Christmas experience. Santa’s Lapland this week cancelled its December 2020

trips, while Tui said its Lapland programme was now under review. Tui said it was “proactively” contacting customers to offer them free amendments to next winter while assessing new entry rules for Finland. The moves follow Newmarket Holidays’ decision to

shelve its programme two weeks ago, while Regent Travel cancelled its group tours in September. It is understood other operators, including Canterbury

Travel, are reviewing their Lapland programmes. Santa’s Lapland is offering families a 10-minute video

call with Father Christmas for £85. Paul Carter, UK chief executive of parent Hotelplan,

said it was not a decision the company had taken lightly, adding safety requirements would have had too much of an impact on the “magic” of the experience. He said: “We know a trip to see Santa is a once-in-a-

lifetime experience and we want to ensure it’s as magical as our customers expect it to be.” Newmarket head of sales Richard Forde said the

Travel Norwich Airport

Bournemouth Airport. Both airports are owned by Regional & City Airports. The Bournemouth brand is set to go live

in the next fortnight, complementing Fred Olsen Travel’s five south coast branches. Both the Travel Bournemouth Airport

and Travel Norwich Airport brands will feature dedicated websites and magazines, and have presences on social media. Hardwick said the brands would operate

weekly pop-up shops in local towns initially, ahead of long-term plans for branded shops in the airports or town centres. He said Fred Olsen Travel would

consider further acquisitions and was open to collaborating with other agencies.

A trip to see Santa is a once-in-a-

lifetime experience and we want to ensure it’s as magical as clients expect

operator took an early decision to cancel trips to Pajala in Swedish Lapland ahead of this month’s balance-due dates to avoid the need for refunds. He said: “We listened to customers. We were not

confident about giving the right experience. We switched 80% to next year and did it early to save agents a job.” Regent Holidays ditched its group tour allocations when

it became clear it would not be able to fill its 80 spaces across four tours and where it had “financial commitment”. But brand manager Andrea Godfrey said private,

tailor-made trips would go ahead thanks to new entry rules allowing UK visitors to stay up to 72 hours in Finland from November 23 without quarantine. Godfrey said Lapland suppliers were “flexible around any [potential] changes” and would provide refunds or rebookings if necessary. Brooklyn Travel Holdings, which owns call centre

agency Santa Claus Trips, was contacting clients about the cancellations on Tuesday. Marketing director Brian Wright said: “Customers are disappointed but understanding.”

Ecotourism-focused Working Travel Group targets 100 agents

A franchise group focused on ethical travel hopes to attract agents passionate about selling sustainable trips that protect the environment. Working Travel Group has been

providing travel, including working holidays and voluntary projects, for two decades. It set up its travel agency arm,

called Holiday Executives, in February but expansion was put on hold because of Covid-19. The group, which has 15 self-

employed ‘digital’ agents, aims to create a UK-wide network of agents who can create itineraries for eco-

conscious travellers seeking the likes of an adventure trek, relaxing holiday, career break or charity project. Head of business development

and operations Darren Taylor said: “If we get 100 agents, that would give us a great coverage across the UK.” The group works with

48 destination management companies worldwide that have been vetted to ensure their sustainability credentials. It also works with a select number of operators, including Gold Medal, G Adventures and Intrepid, and bed bank

22 OCTOBER 2020 7 Agents can tailor-make trips or

sell packages but are trained to steer customers towards ethical travel choices, such as choosing locally run hotels. Enquiries are generated

via the group’s websites. i Tourism for Good report, page 11

PICTURES: Shutterstock; Sarah Lucy Brown

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