After a year that shook up the entire travel industry, as well as the way the pent-up traveler envisioned his/her long-awaited adventures, the luggage is finally being unpacked and the destinations are finding themselves clearly becoming materialized. However, like a patient bedridden for too long attempting to take those struggling first few steps, the traveler might need assistance navigating the tenuous pathways in travel’s new normal.
Thus, the trend toward tours with established companies seems to be the travel training wheels needed during the transition back to the norm. This is not to say that tour companies will not continue to thrive for years to come, it’s just that, like the way cities and countries have managed their own recovery, all things must be done in stages.
According to statista.com, the tour operator sector saw a predictable drop in revenue from 8.2 B in 2019, the highest in recent record, to 5.01 B in 2020. It is estimated that 2021 will see revenues rise to 7.57 B, an impressive rebound, and evidence that the travel industry is resilient and travelers eager to indulge their wanderlust.
One tour company leading the way is Austin Adventures, family-owned and operated for over 35 years, and led by Founder and CEO, Dan Austin. Austin Adventures reports that of the thousand trips carried over from 2020, 90% of travelers rebooked for the latter part of 2021, with an uptick of inquiries and bookings beginning after the Biden-Harris administration announcing the May 1st goal of all Americans being vaccinated.
“What we are seeing now,” stated Austin, “is a daily increase in international queries and bookings. Pent up demand is sending consumers to the phones to book bucket list trips that may have been on the list for years.” In response to that demand, Austin Adventures offered a list of some top destinations for the 2021 traveler and beyond.
Kenya/Tanzania: Great Migration (August 21, 2021-September 1, 2021)
Explore national parks, game reserves, and conservation areas by day while staying at comfortably outfitted safari lodges and camps by night.
Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh to Ha Long Bay (September 26, 2021-October 7, 2021) Tour guides bring travelers off the well-trodden tourist track to get an authentic insider’s look into Vietnamese culture.
Costa Rica Adult: Arenal Rainforest to Guanacaste (October 2-9, 2021) Austin Adventures President Kasey Austin, brings a group of women to all women-owned businesses on the island of Costa Rica. A portion of proceeds from the trip also benefit a local Costa Rican women’s charity.
Iceland: Best of Southern Iceland (October 9-16, 2021) A women’s retreat curated by Austin Adventures cofounder Carol Austin, this trip brings travelers through some of Iceland’s best natural attractions and adventures.
Italy: Sicily (October 24-29, 2021) Led by Ron Van Dijk, co founder of Euro Bike Tours, this trip will take travelers to the southeastern side of Sicily, with its historic ruins and rich culture, not to mention the famous cuisine!
Best of Baja (December 12-18, 2021) Guests get the chance to swim with whale sharks, snorkel in the Sea of Cortez and help marine wildlife researchers during an island getaway of a lifetime in Baja California and its neighbor Isla Espiritu in the Gulf of California.
Besides these select, curated excursions, Austin Adventures is offering other international departures to such locations as Galapagos, Peru, Croatia and Greece, which is anticipated to re-open to travelers in mid-May. Austin concluded, “Now as more travelers feel comfortable after vaccinations, our attention is being pivoted to our international programs. The international travel industry is seeing a boom like we’ve never seen before.”
Whether wishful thinking, solid experience, current indicators, or a mix of all three, travel is picking itself up off the mat and rebounding in a big way. With new restrictions and a plethora of safety guidelines, travel planning is more labor intensive than ever before. Choosing a tour company to help the process might be wise.
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