In response to the continued uncertainty around internal borders and travel due to COVID-19, The Travel Corporation (TTC) has decided to temporarily pause Australian group touring departures until 1 December 2021.
This decision will affect AAT Kings Guided Holidays (First Choice and Best Buys), Contiki, Trafalgar, Insight Vacations and Inspiring Journeys. AAT Kings Day Tours and Short Breaks programs in the Northern Territory will continue to operate in the meantime.
TTC Australia chief executive David Hosking said the company’s reservations, sales, and groups and charters teams “remain committed to working closely with travel agency partners and guests to realise their travel plans beyond 1 December 2021”, and noted that it continues to see “strong” bookings for 2022 and beyond.
Furthermore, TTC will require all eligible travellers and customer-facing team members in Australia and New Zealand for Contiki, Trafalgar, Insight Vacations, Inspiring Journeys and AAT Kings Guided Holidays (First Choice and Best Buys) to be fully-vaccinated for COVID-19 from December.
“We have sought and will continue to take advice. However, put simply, it is the right thing to do,” Hosking said.
“Following what TTC has already implemented in the US and Europe, we are proud to be taking a positive stance on vaccination requirements for our guests and customer-facing team members in Australia and New Zealand.
“Our aim is to help our guests, agency partners and team transition to what is inevitably going to be the ‘new normal’ in safe travel and help the industry rebound in a sustained way.”
Hosking said the December restart date was based on the Australian government’s four-stage reopening plan and the New Zealand government’s vaccine plan, as well as the current projected rollout of jabs across both countries.
He said TTC also hopes state governments will have agreed to a collective approach to managing lockdowns and movement across borders by this time.
“The current operating environment has meant that most of our tours have been impacted by cancellations due to lockdowns and restrictions, and we cannot deliver our usual high standard of guest experience,” Hosking said.
“The Travel Corporation reservations and sales teams will be in direct communication with affected guests and agency partners regarding the changes. For those that cannot commit to being fully vaccinated prior to travel, a refund will be issued.
“Without a doubt, Australia and New Zealand have two of the best travel and tourism industries in the world, and we sincerely hope that by 1 December 2021 when vaccination rates have reached70 to 80 per cent, we can recommence our Australian group touring operations and support our industry through recovery.”