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NEWS


e with guest speakers highlighting the challenges – and opportunities – of travel’s revival INTREPID TRAVEL


TRAVEL AGENTS


Tony Mann


Intrepid’s Zina


Bencheikh and James Thornton


Sue Alexander


xxx Phil Evans


Intrepid admits sector’s revival is ‘challenging’


T


he return of group adventure travel will be “challenging”, according to the global boss of the


Intrepid Group. James Thornton, chief executive


of Intrepid Travel’s parent company, said travel around the world was likely to recover in “two tiers” as some parts opened up faster than others. The Australia-based travel group


has suspended global operations until September 30 but some itineraries, such as its new Intrepid Retreats and its Urban Adventures brand, are due to restart in July. Thornton said travel for the


operator’s Australia and New Zealand client base was likely to restart later, with borders due to remain closed until early 2021. “We’re seeing the opportunity


to get UK, European and North American travellers travelling on our worldwide product range,” he said. “Hopefully, we can get some


trips operating in quarter four, from October onwards, but obviously we’ll have to wait and see.” Group travel was particularly


travelweekly.co.uk


difficult under the current health restrictions, he conceded, saying: “It’s going to be challenging. Safety is our biggest priority.” Thornton said the operator was


“investigating” chartering its own transport rather than using local suppliers. Tour leaders would also be trained to ensure they meet World Travel & Tourism Council health and safety protocols, he added, and revealed increased demand for active and wilderness tours in the wake of holidaymakers spending so much time at home during lockdown. Thornton thanked UK agents


for their support despite conceding Intrepid Travel had not responded “as quickly as we could have” with refunds at the start of the crisis. He said the operator recognised


it was too slow initially to provide customer refunds and had since accelerated the process, with refunds requested by 4,221 of 55,000 clients. Intrepid bookings were down year


on year by 98% in April and 89% in May, but Thornton said sales were now


coming in, mainly for post-Easter 2021. i News You Can Use, page 16


‘We must tell clients their holidays will be different’


A


gents need to be clear with customers that their holidays may not be what they are used


to when travel initially resumes. Tony Mann, managing director


of Idle Travel in Bradford, said: “It’s about educating and knowing what to expect. I’ve said [on the radio station that I appear on] for the last few weeks that travel is not going to be what it used to be. The hotel will only be partly full, so expect different meal times etc.” He said the onus was on agents


to explain to their customers what they should expect when they travel. “There’s more and more


information out there to get people understanding that travel will have changed, whether that’s in the UK, or abroad. It’s definitely going to alter at the beginning.” Agents also said they expect to


be dealing with a growing number of queries from clients who don’t feel comfortable about travelling, even if their holidays are due to go ahead.


Travel will have


changed – definitely in the beginning – both in the UK and abroad


Sue Alexander, director of Eagle


Travel in Bedford, said: “With September holidays approaching, we have got people who have said they’re a little bit daunted about the idea of going this year.” She said the majority of tour


operators had done an excellent job of allowing customers to postpone to later dates, but there may be some cases where airlines may not refund if their flights are operating. “I think that with their flexible


terms and conditions, we’ll still be OK to postpone and move them to another day,” Alexander said. “But it’s a difficult one because a lot of the airlines will be operating. “Luckily, the majority of the


people that we’ve got in September are either hoping for the best, or are looking to go next year instead.”


25 JUNE 2020


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