Travel Editor Stephen Scourfield looks back at another week in travel... and looks forward to travelling again
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) expects overall traveller numbers to reach 4 billion in 2024 — 103 per cent of pre-COVID 2019. Director-general Willie Walsh says: “People want to travel and when travel restrictions are lifted, they return to the skies.” Overall traveller numbers in 2021 were 47 per cent of 2019 levels. That’s expected to be to 83 per cent this year and 94 per cent in 2023.
STEPPING IT UP
Emirates’ Perth services will increase from three weekly flights to four weekly flights on April 1, and then to daily flights on May 1. Its Boeing 777-300ER (good old EK420/421) has eight first class seats, 42 business class seats and 304 in economy.
When we return to WA, we’ll need proof of being triple vaccinated (or double vaccinated if not eligible for the third), as well as complete rapid antigen tests 12 hours after arrival and on day six. Passengers must also apply for a G2G Pass before travelling.
BACK IN THE BLACK . . .
Flydubai is back “in the black”. The Emirati budget carrier has just revealed a profit of more than $300 million in 2021. Flydubai, which, like Emirates, is owned by Dubai, carried 5.6 million passengers last year. In July 2020, Dubai became one of the world’s first locations to reopen for international travel, and has since October been hosting the delayed Expo 2020 world fair. It ends on March 31. Last year, 29 million passengers passed through Dubai airport.
I like flydubai, and have flown a lot with them. After the long-haul to Dubai, flydubai connects to interesting places.
. . . AND I’LL BE BACK
The Sultanate of Oman, east of Dubai and a favourite place for me, has dropped the requirement for a negative PCR test result, though internationals arriving have to show proof of two-dose vaccination. I returned from Oman, with companions on a Travel Club Tour, as the world was shutting down in March 2019. (I’ll be back.)
OPENERS: BALI, NZ
Quarantine requirements have ended on Bali. Travellers have to prove double-dose vaccination, show hotel bookings for at least four days, and have proof of a negative PCR test. Visitors from 23 countries are allowed to get visas on arrival, according to immigration spokesman Achmad Nur Saleh.
The New Zealand Government is planning to allow in all international travellers by July. They will have to be fully vaccinated, but there will be no self-isolation requirements. (NZ citizens and some eligible travellers are already allowed in.)
Global tour operator Collette has stopped all tours to Russia and its Collette Foundation has pledged $US200,000 ($270,000) to support humanitarian organisations in Ukraine. The funds will assist refugees and people impacted by the crisis in Ukraine.
“The commitment to making the world a better place through travel has always been Collette’s core purpose,” president of Collette Jaclyn Leibl-Cote says. “Providing this level of support is at the forefront of why our family chose to create the foundation and situations such as these are exactly why we do what we do.”
But it is worth emphasising that the war in Ukraine is isolated in nature, and distant from the parts of Europe where the majority of Collette’s European tours operate. The company does not anticipate that situation will have a significant impact on the rest of its European tours.
“We are committed to taking care of the places where we travel and supporting the Ukrainians in this difficult time is part of this,” says James Hewlett, head of marketing for Collette in Australia.
G Adventures has also cancelled all tours in Russia and travellers booked on forward departures will be refunded. They will no longer accept Russian nationals residing inside Russia on their trips, or take bookings from Russian agencies. “I have always said travel can be the fastest path to peace, so it breaks my heart that it has come to this,” says Bruce Poon Tip, founder of G Adventures. “There are many fine people in Russia who are now forced to become part of the solution.”
SEEKING SOLOS SOUGHT
European Waterways reckons solo travel represents nearly 25 per cent of the market and is one of the fastest growing segments of the industry. A spokesperson says: “Today’s solo travellers are more confident and adventurous and have the financial independence to explore the world on their own. For them, travel is less about living ‘the single’s life’ and more about seeking out experiences that help them learn about different cultures and contribute to personal growth.”
European Waterways’ managing director Derek Banks says its luxury hotel barge La Bella Vita is especially suited for these travellers.
Derek explains: “It offers a memorable journey between Venice and Mantua that immerses guests in the culture, tradition, art, and architecture of Italy, all while being treated to world-class cuisine and the finest wine.” European Waterways has dropped the single supplement on six-night voyages which depart on April 17, May 15 and May 29, 2022 — a saving of up to $2400 per cabin.
There is also 10 per cent per person off early bookings on La Bella Vita’s annual solo cruise, which departs Venice on October 16, 2022.
Accommodating up to 20 passengers, La Bella Vita sails Italy’s River Po, with guided tours of the Renaissance cities of Ferrara and Mantua, and the picturesque fishing town of Chioggia. europeanwaterways.com
JOURNEYS OF THE SPIRIT
And I’ll leave the final words to Julie Baker, at Perth-based Journeys of the Spirit, which for 27 years has sought out exceptional and culturally rich experiences worldwide, creating transformative holidays that provide a balance of exploration and indulgence …
“As we begin to open up to the world again, this is a powerful time to ponder how we want to step out into the world through the fresh eyes of what we’ve learned and what now brings us joy.
“We have all learnt a lot in the past two years. What’s important, and what’s not. We’ve created new ways to stay connected. And to have fun. We care more.
“So before we step on the travelator of life, ask yourself … what have I learnt about myself, what do I appreciate now, what makes me happy, and then, how can I bring these important elements into the way I travel and experience the world?
“Being aware of why we travel, what it gives us, what we can give to the cultures we experience and what we want our mind, body and spirit to feel, also contribute by naturally aligning our intrinsic needs with our awareness of what feeds us.
“And so for the next phase of Journeys. We can dream. We can get excited about the possibilities on the horizon.
“Because it’s not just about the destination, but the journey to create that special experience for yourself that will naturally move you from flat to flight.”
— Julie Baker. journeysof thespirit.com.au