Contiki managing director addresses the impact of Covid on international travel


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Aussies are desperate to get back overseas but the devastating impact of the Covid pandemic has made plenty of places more expensive.

Travel is forecast to kick off again in 2022 but the impact of Covid for the past two years has impacted a lot of regions, as businesses that were completely reliant on tourism were forced to shut and find other work.

Few companies are more ready for overseas holidays to be back in fashion than Contiki and the thousands of customers they take on country-hopping tours every year.

The company, which has been running tours for 18 to 35 year olds since 1962, experienced a devastating downturn over the past two years thanks to Covid and the ongoing border closures.

But Contiki managing director Katrina Barry told that the company had long been learning how to pivot.

“Flexibility is the new black,” she said.

“We absolutely need to pivot and keep your eye sort of close to the ground and that’s our job, to be the experts on travel. So we’ve had to adapt. I don’t think 2022 is going to be exactly like it was prior to Covid, we’re definitely in a transition period. ”

Ms Barry referred to a European tour last week that had included a stopover at a Christmas market in Austria.

The company was forced to rapidly change up its Austria section and reroute its itinerary when the country snapped its borders shut due to Covid.

“We couldn’t go through Austria … so we had to figure out an alternative route to make sure that we deliver a really great experience for those customers, what are the concepts and how do we deliver the highlights and experiences that people are asking for.”

Travelling in 2022 will be different to what it was in 2019, with Contiki noticing a number of trends – with costs going up “significantly” in parts of Europe and large swathes of business shutting down in Asia.

“What we are noticing is there will be supply issues in various countries … there are so many things across Asia where people live to pay cheque to pay cheque so a lot of businesses have had to close and a lot of families have had to go and find other work,” Ms Barry said.

“That means there’s not as many restaurants or there’s not quite as many to it than in one particular thing.

“And in the Greek Islands, costing has gone up significantly because there are fewer operators and fewer hotels, so we’ve had to build in some of that process. But that’s always been the world.”

While coronavirus has made international travel harder than ever, Ms Barry argues Contiki’s business model has always been to make travel hassle-free and easy.

“If you look back at 1962 …. when Contiki first started … back then it was about crossing borders and different currencies and different languages and it was really difficult to travel,” she said.

“And I actually think we’ve almost come back to that full circle, because travelling post-Covid will probably be a little more difficult.

“And that‘s mainly because of…

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