Asian Trails in the time of coronavirus

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Asian Trails in the time of coronavirus

Like most people in the world I am working and writing my CEO Story from the comfort of my home, and I hope this finds you in good health and staying safe.

It seems like ages ago when I last wrote my travel story, but in fact it has only been two months. The world during this short time has changed like nothing I have ever experienced before.

The information on the current situation is overwhelming, and I am sure you too are inundated with news of the ever-changing government restrictions, ‘wise’ guys telling us what to do, conspiracy theories, thousands of webinars and the numbers of people infected by Covid-19 – just to name a few. When I go to bed at night I realise that the news of the day has added little knowledge to the situation, which is as unpredictable in the evening as it is in the morning. Or the day before. Or the week before. But it makes me pause and think, and the note pad and pen on my bed table get ample use these days.

The uncertainty of what we are living through is unprecedented. We all know that the solution to living safe will be the development and mass production of a vaccine to keep the virus at bay, but experts tell us that this is at least a year away. Until then we have no choice but to make the best out of living in a state of uncertainty in many aspects of our lives, and this includes everything and anything related to tourism.

What I am certain of though is that people will want to travel again, maybe even more than ever. It’s only a question of time. Meanwhile, my teams and I are ‘preparing travel after virus times’ – to make travel safe, fun, rewarding and interesting, and easier than ever to book a holiday with Asian Trails.

For travel to resume governments will first have to lift restrictions and open borders. I appeal to governments to make this process as easy and as swift as possible. Hopefully, there will be more inter-government collaboration on lifting restrictions than there was when they were imposed.

For people to want to travel again they will have to feel safe and comfortable. Asian Trails is working with government agencies and the private sector to implement and enforce health and safety measures for travellers.

However, travel will not quite be the same in the months and probably years to come. Social distancing and strict hygiene conditions will be a new way of life, but rewarding experiences will always await the curious and seasoned traveller.

Destinations, especially those away from densely-crowded areas, will probably be preferred by travellers in the ‘new normal’. This is because people, who have spent months locked up in their homes or apartments, will crave for the sun and sea, fresh air and nature. Social distancing will mean fewer people in a destination, and this may have a special appeal for some travellers. Asian Trails Explore tours take our guests to the hidden, less-trodden parts of Asia, and ensure a uniquely local and rewarding experience away from crowds.

For tourism to restart, airlines will have to start flying again and ensure a safe environment for their customers. I don’t want to speculate on what that might look like, I leave this issue to the aviation and health experts. My only wish is for flying to remain affordable even if airlines will have to adjust their prices to a new operating environment.

Although we have implemented cost-saving measures throughout the company to get us through the crisis and with the majority of our managers and staff working from home, Asian Trails’ offices remain operational in all our destinations. Even with cost-cutting we are not losing track of our long term objectives, and we will continue to invest our time and resources on key priorities particularly in technology.

At Asian Trails we have always put the client at the centre of everything we do, and there is no exception even during such difficult times. Our teams and myself are in personal touch with you as much as we possibly can. We love to hear from you and welcome your suggestions on what you need, and what we can help you with in these trying times.

There is high demand on destination and product information from many of our clients. We are, therefore, focusing particularly on educating you on our destinations and products. We believe that personal education interaction between you and us (and your customers) brings the highest benefits. We can help you with our webinars, videos and tailor-made one-on-one training sessions. Please contact your Asian Trails managers to discuss your priorities and how we can best help you.

Our focus on sustainability is on-going, and we are taking this time to fine tune such practices, as well as implement sustainability initiatives. You may have read of our ‘Actions on Animal Welfare’ document. We also work on educating our staff and help our suppliers in implementing their sustainability policies. Should you wish to have a chat with our sustainability co-ordinators, please let us know.

Our product teams are working on the next season, as well as itineraries and prices for 2021. While product development has slowed down resulting in a limited number of new products in the short term, we are improving many of our present tours and add little extras for more rewarding experiences. Sustainability plays a crucial role in product creation and enhancement, and is a distinct focus for all our teams.

We want to make it as easy as possible for you to book our products and services so that you can concentrate on your customers. Our new itineraries for the next season and 2021 will be more streamlined and uniformed, giving both a tour summary and a detailed day-by-day itinerary. We are implementing uniform cancellation deadlines and deposit policies at all our destinations for all FIT bookings until March 2021. Please contact your Asian Trails manager for further information.

These are times when the tourism industry needs to pull together. It’s the era of cooperation and flexibility. I feel a lot of solidarity in our industry, and I hope that this crisis will bring many of us closer together.

The coronavirus pandemic has pushed the pause button for many of us, makes us reflect on the past and think about the future. It also gives us the chance to spend quality time with our family, catch up on things we never had the time to do, and focus on health including food and exercise. Hopefully, you too can take the time to put your mind at rest and relax, enjoying a respite from the virus world.

When I write the next CEO story in two months’ time I hope to see the return of domestic travel in some countries, governments lifting borders and easing regulations, some airlines resuming flights, and for our industry seeing the first light at the end of the tunnel. Until then stay healthy and well, and be as happy as you possibly can.

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