Olá from the island of Madeira!
Perhaps one of the small downsides to spending several decades in the travel industry is that, from talking to so many people and doing all the necessary research to put a program together, I have a pretty good barometer on what to expect when visiting a new place.
Not that meeting one's expectations is a bad thing, but the experience of having those expectations exceeded is simply delightful, and that truly has been my experience of Madeira so far. It's abundantly clear why so many Europeans choose to spend their winters in this balmy paradise, and I'm really excited for our February LiveAway here.
I'll share more about Madeira in this week's webinar, so I'd like to back up just a bit and share why we've officially postponed our Samui LiveAway.
Some months back we had already announced we would likely be postponing it, due to the pandemic surge that hit Thailand very hard in the summer. However we were keeping an eye on it to see if things could get sorted in time, and hadn't 'officially' called it off...ever the optimists around here 🙂
And with the Canadian government lifting the travel advisory and the Thai government announcing no quarantine for travellers from over 40 countries, it seemed the cards could be turning in our favour.
However, after speaking with our partners on the ground, our hotel, the Tourism Authority of Thailand, and making my own assessment based on my years of living there, we decided that there is still simply too much uncertainty there to be able to guarantee safety, first and foremost, and secondly an experience up to our standards here at Wheel & Anchor.
Thailand is making progress getting its outbreaks under control, but still has nearly 10,000 cases a day, a situation not likely to be improved by the presence of visitors from abroad. The hospitality industry that has been shuttered for most of the past two years is badly hurting and is likely to have a bumpy ride reopening.
Tourism is absolutely critical to the livelihoods of millions of people in Thailand, and I empathize with their decision to push ahead and reopen; I certainly hope it goes smoothly. Challenges abound; they are facing a massive labour shortage in the hospitality industry due to the more than one million workers from neighbouring Myanmar who went home and are unable to get back, partly because of the pandemic and partly because of the upheaval from the military coup there.
Thus while I am always loathe to postpone a trip, I think we're better off to bide our time and wait for them to resolve some of these issues. I fully expect by next January they will have gotten the kinks worked out, so that shall be the new plan there.
In the meantime, if you haven't made plans for the winter on our doorstep, I heartily invite you to consider joining us for our LiveAway here in Madeira in February, or perhaps Cyprus in March. The situation here is a far cry more stable than Thailand and we're going to have a blast.
This was a long one so thanks for your indulgence and understanding - as always do reach out if you have any questions or comments.
P.S. Forgot to mention we've just released our Crossing the Andes: Argentina & Chile program, which you can find below 🙂