Roger Dow

Travel Weekly’s Lee Hayhurst

Edmund Bartlett

Roadmap to Recovery Travel Weekly webcasts: This week’s guest speakers suggest ways to ac DUFF & PHELPS’ HENRY WELLS

Greg Takehara, Tourism Cares

Elliott Ferguson, Destination DC

‘Tourism needs common approaches to testing’


he head of the US Travel Association has said it is vital that valuable international routes

are revived to build on the global rebound of travel currently being driven by domestic markets. Speaking in a Resilience Council

and Finn Partners virtual summit session on The Americas, US Travel Association chief executive Roger Dow said international travel was “extraordinarily important”. Dow said the 80 million annual

visitors to the US spend $285 billion, and confirmed the country’s tourism sector had suffered a 51% loss of jobs, double the rate seen across the US economy during the Great Depression. Dow said he expected America’s

international markets to come back in reverse order to how they closed down when the Covid-19 shutdown of travel hit in March. But he said there needed to

be consistent and recognised international protocols to ensure people feel confident to travel again. “Canada and Mexico will come back first, then the UK, Ireland

10 23 JULY 2020

and the Caribbean,” said Dow. “Then, finally, we’ll start with other international markets but with Asia and China probably last, for which we’re going to have to do an awful lot. “What’s going to help that a lot

is testing and common approaches around the world, so you know that someone coming from one country has gone through the same protocols. “It’s become more apparent than

ever that we’re in a global game, and we all have to be working together and doing the same thing if we’re to bring back travel.” Dow said one of the challenges was

to bring back air capacity, and Edmund Bartlett, minister of tourism for Jamaica, said it was a case of “so far, so good”, for his country in that respect. Bartlett said Covid-19 presented

an opportunity to do things differently and that Caribbean destinations were already looking at how to appeal to a new generation of travellers. He said the so-called ‘Generation Covid’ could be professionals looking for longer- term stays so they could work from their beach cottages or visitors who were more conscious of their impact.

Henry Wells

Travel Weekly’s Lucy Huxley

‘Investors will pause before coming back with vengeance’


erger and acquisition activity in the travel industry has been tipped to return in the

next six to 12 months, but private equity investors may take an initial “pause” on the sector. Henry Wells, managing director

of financial consultancy firm Duff & Phelps and its head of UK M&A, said he expected much of the activity to be “distressed or opportunistic”, but said he was optimistic of an eventual return to pre-Covid levels over the course of the next two to three years. He said: “You’ve got trade buyers

with strong balance sheets that want to access or execute some sort of strategy. They wanted to do that pre-Covid and they still want to do that. It is not about trying to get it for the cheapest, it’s about trying to get it for the best value.” Wells said private equity investors

may step back from travel for a while, but insisted they would be “back with a vengeance”. “In 2019, there was £110 billion

of what’s called ‘dry powder’ [across all sectors], which is money that was

People in private

equity are assessing which sectors will do well and which will struggle

raised in that year, but not invested. That means there’s £110 billion that needs to be invested,” he said. “With travel, [investment] will take

a bit of a pause as investors assess what the real impact is. People in private equity are assessing very carefully which of the sectors and sub-sectors will do well and which will struggle; which will need to change and which they will back.” Wells noted that the second quarter

of 2020 was the lowest on record for mergers and acquisitions in travel, and down by about two-thirds between April and June compared to 2019 as businesses opted to “sit tight”. He forecast that travel will come

back even stronger but warned “it is going to get harder before it gets easier”. “The industry will have had to have pivoted slightly,” said Wells.

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