Don’t rush the restart, says tour operator

Don’t rush the restart, says tour operator

The key to successfully restarting and growing trans-Tasman travel is to ensure that the standards expected by guests are met – and that there are contingency plans around health and safety challenges, says Melbourne based Peter Harding, managing director of Grand Pacific Tours.

Speaking at the TRENZ Hui in Christchurch late last week, Harding told delegates that getting people to travel with confidence, particularly in a group tour context, came down to not restarting too soon.

‘We’ve all got challenges when it comes to rebuilding and it is important to understand where everyone is at right now. We don’t want to give people an inferior experience.’

He says the key issue for anyone joining a tour is how they are going to be looked after. Covid has obviously made that more complex.

‘When you have 48 people on a coach and one gets symptoms, what’s the plan? It’s just about how we can keep things on track and having people able to book with confidence is really important.’

He says looking further into the future, this part of the world is in a good position to capitalise on its Covid successes.

‘On long haul markets, particularly the United Kingdom, people are excited about what we have been doing in Australia and New Zealand. Both countries are very high on their agenda – they really just need to feel safe.’

In the medium term Harding is predicting that Singapore ‘and a few other Asian destinations’ are likely to be part of the next safe travel bubble.

Grand Pacific Touring is planning to restart its New Zealand programmes in September.