Greetings from Tallinn, Estonia!
We are nearing the end of our Scandinavian & Baltic adventure here in the charming Estonian capital. Tallinn is really a charming city, off the beaten path for most travellers coming to Europe, but with a nice energy to it. I'd like a few more days even to explore, but all journeys must end so new ones can begin 🙂
After this I'll be taking a bit of a break from travelling for a few weeks, after going pretty much nonstop through Europe for the past six months. I've been to Madeira, Cyprus, Florence, Norway, Sicily, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, and even a few days in Canada thrown in there for good measure!
I was reflecting on it all the other morning here in Tallinn, and thought I'd share a few observations on the trends I've seen crossing all over the continent.
The most obvious thing that comes to mind is that the majority of Europeans have put the virus behind them and are getting on with their lives. A dwindling percentage of people wear masks at all, reporting and containment measures are slowly being scrapped, and the prevailing mindset seems to be 'we're now moving on'.
By now a significant percentage of Europeans have had the virus, and whatever immunity provided by that seems to be less important than the psychological victory of having gone through it and come out the other side.
Ultimately I think all of this is good; it suggests adaptation and that is how life moves forward. It does not preclude us from being prudent, nor exercising an appropriate amount of caution while travelling.
And while all of us should remain informed should things escalate in severity of infection, it's probably to go with the flow of things. The world is moving on and it's about management and mitigation from here.
My second observation is related to the first - there is a noticeably diminished presence of tourists from Asia. Most of this is due to the Chinese government's attempt to get to zero cases via lockdowns and travel bans, an eyebrow-raising zig while the rest of the world zags.
This is not to say there was any shortage of travellers; quite the opposite. Things were much busier than average in Sicily in June, and pretty much everywhere else I passed through was in a similar state.
I can't imagine adding several million more tourists to that, but there's no question that travellers from Asia have been underrepresented in Europe the past few months.
All this brings me to my last observation, which I spoke to last week - the hospitality and tourism industry is a choppy sea at the moment, and likely into the medium term.
Demand is through the roof, but hotels are leaving entire floors vacant because there's not enough staff to service them; restaurants too have entire sections closed on busy nights due to a similar labour shortage. Most of us know the aviation industry is in the same boat.
In spite of the chaos, I don't think one should sit and wait for things to settle out, because (a) we've already done a lot of waiting, and (b) the waves rocking the industry are quite significant, meaning quite some time is likely required to restore balance.
People want to travel again and the industry will get back on its feet; it just may be a bit of a bumpy ride.
Briefly, on trips - I'm very pleased to release our 2023 Norway program this week. We had hoped to get this out much earlier but there were unresolved issues from our two postponed trips;
If you've ever thought about seeing the spectacular Norwegian fjords, I highly encourage you to consider joining us for this specific program. With inflation, fuel, and the challenges facing the industry, new pricing from next year onward is going up. However because we have not completed our postponed trip agreements, I was able to secure a deal comparable to last year, an opportunity not likely to come up again in the foreseeable future.
Lastly, we've just finalized the details for the pre and post trip extensions for Japan, to South Korea and Taiwan, respectively. I'll be doing a very short webinar on them next week for those interested - registration is below.