The Latin American Travel Association has brought together 200 members to discuss the impact of Covid-19 on the Latin American travel industry and debate solutions for the future.
Led by LATA chairman, Colin Stewart, and moderated by LATA CEO, Danny Callaghan, LATA hosted a session featuring a panel of tour-operator experts including Sarah Bradley, Journey Latin America, Christopher Wilmot-Sitwell, Cazenove & Lloyd, John Telfer, Explore Worldwide and Martin Johnson, Latin Routes.
The session was initiated with UK consumer insight provided by Mail Metro Media outlining current travel trends, as well as results from a consumer survey specifically about travel to Latin America.
The research showed that despite the immediate impact on travel plans with 37% of respondents claiming to have already cancelled their holiday, there is some appetite for 2020 holiday bookings. September is the most popular month being considered by those looking to make a 2020 booking with 54% of respondents thinking that UK travel restrictions will be lifted by then. The insight showed long-haul destinations with niche appeal being less affected overall by the impact of the pandemic with 55% of respondents claiming that they would be ‘equally likely’ or ‘more likely’ to consider a trip to Latin America.
The tour operators on the panel identified that forward bookings to Latin America remain strong, however a large part of these are postponed trips being taken at a later date. New bookings in April are limited although some types of enquiry remain robust; such as long-lead honeymoon requests.
In terms of developing a roadmap to recovery, the panel identified Latin America’s positive points of differentiation, which should help kick-start the region’s travel industry once restrictions are lifted. These include:
- Attracting a more adventurous traveller that is less risk averse
- Wide open natural spaces with strong tourism potential (away from crowded centres)
- Strong sustainability and community-led initiatives
- Large part of the customer base having strong economic power (less financial vulnerability)
- Long lead times in terms of bookings
The panel agreed that whilst the practical issues of air travel, airport regulation and travel insurance need to be resolved, clarity and consistency of messaging is vital to maintain customer confidence.
LATA committed to supporting the sector by developing industry standards including safety and hygiene protocols to help rebuild trust and confidence in the region and give customers the confidence needed to make a future booking.
The panel identified action points for destinations and travel companies within Latin America to focus on whilst travel is on hold, including developing conservation initiatives; working with remote communities to maintain open lines of communication and support; and ensuring pricing is confirmed for 2021 to enable travel companies to make future bookings.
It was also identified that tourism boards in Latin America should be working together and not in isolation to make their budgets go further and support each other during the recovery process.
Colin Stewart, chairman of LATA says: “Despite the current challenges, we are pleased to be able to bring together over 200 travel experts from around the world that operate to and within Latin America to share ideas and develop action plans for recovery. This session was the first in a series of webinars that LATA is hosting for its members and is a great opportunity to have an honest and open discussion about how this pandemic is impacting our businesses and destinations and how we can move forward as a united industry.”
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