Trade urged to start planning as travel shows signs of strong rebound

Tour operators need to start laying the groundwork for travel rebound which is anticipated to come “fast and furious”, according to industry stakeholders.

At the Arabian Travel Market Virtual, Julia Randow, regional director of GetYourGuide, noted that globally, certain markets have picked up and swathes of the industry have been caught unprepared.

Dubai has been attracting visitors from new markets, and targets over 5.5 million overseas tourists this year, a family touring Dubai Zoo in February 2021 pictured

She said: “When recovery comes, it comes hard. You need to be prepared, have availability uploaded and a great inventory in place. You have to have all the opportunities for customers to make a booking.”

Ian Renton, director of sales at Atlantis, said it is essential to be “nimble and on your toes”. In preparation for the tourist influx as Dubai prepares for a strong peak season ahead, Atlantis has diversified its business and reached out to new key source markets.

“We have kept our fingers on the pulse, worked with government authorities and airlines, and shared information so that when things do come back – and they will come back quick – we’re ready,” said Renton.

Randow said Dubai experienced three to four times growth from the UK in November and December compared with 2019. This was triggered by a quarantine-free corridor between the destinations. “A strong travel sentiment is there,” she added.

Additionally, she noted the US is leading recovery, with bookings already surpassing 2019 numbers. This is a pattern that is starting to be seen in Australia and New Zealand.

Douglas Quinby, co-founder and CEO of Arival, noted a “supply constraint” in the US sparked by an unpreparedness for the “fast and furious” surge in travel demand. He said: “Operators are struggling to hire guides and there’s a labour shortage for restaurants and hotels that are trying to reopen quickly.”

A recent survey carried out by GetYourGuide in the US revealed 70 per cent of respondents plan to take a holiday within the next three months. However, only about eight per cent have booked.

Remarked Randow: “That’s very different to what we normally see but suggests many bookings are to come. This highlights the need to be on top of business in the long-term and short-term if you want to win this game.”

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