He also says Maher Escorted Tours is keen to nurture its relationship with the travel trade.
‘The agents that used us before the pandemic are coming back, they like the way that dealing with us is nice and easy, with no hassles and they like the commission structure. We’re always careful to protect their interests, if a client who has travelled with us through an agent comes back direct we advise them to go back and organise it through the agent.’
He says that last year and again in 2023, Kenya-Tanzania and the Southern Africa tours have been extremely popular.
‘I think the first people coming back to travel tended to be more adventurous anyway but we are now seeing some of the more traditional Europe tours such as Austria- Switzerland, as well Scandinavia starting to generate more interest and bookings.’
He says the USA is gaining some traction as well. ‘It’s excellent seeing people wanting to go back to the US. Our Heartland Tour which includes a Mississippi Cruise (with America River Cruising) is popular.’
He says cruising the Mississippi is a different river cruise experience from one in Europe and is a good option for clients who have already been on the popular European rivers.
‘We had a group in Europe this year who went to Spain and Portugal and did the Douro River. They really enjoyed each other’s company and a number of them have got together and will do the Mississippi in 2024.’
Richards says Tasmania has always been popular for Maher and he is seeing plenty of interest now, as is the AustralianRail Tour that combines The Ghan and the Indian Pacific as well as some nights in Sydney, Adelaide, Darwin (with a Kakadu excursion) and Brisbane.
‘We’re seeing more enquiries from younger people these days, partly as a result of our digital advertising.
‘We’ve also noticed that the way people, including more mature guests, are travelling is changing. That’s why we’re adding more active options to our tours, like a walk or e-bike excursion. It’s always a choice, if people don’t want to do that we make sure they won’t feel like they have missed out.’