What I learned from visiting 7 countries in the past 6 weeks

Greetings from Cyprus!

The last few weeks I’ve been on a bit of a whirlwind tour across Europe doing reconnaissance for a number of our upcoming tours for 2022, visiting Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France, Portugal (both Mainland and the island of Madeira), the UK, and now finally here in Cyprus.

It has been quite an experience to say the least and I have a number of observations to share with you now that I have a minute to catch my breath.

1. I found it very interesting to see how the different countries I visited were each dealing with vaccines, masks, and other pandemic protocols. Austria and Switzerland were fairly strict with both vaccination cards and mask protocols, while Italy was more lax on the vaccine cards but strict about mask-wearing, and France was lax on the mask-wearing but much more strict on the vaccine cards.

Portugal and Madeira scored high marks for both masks and vaccine cards, as well as the smoothness of their arrival protocols. I’ve only just arrived in Cyprus but things here seem well under control as far as protocols and compliance.

The UK generally was a mess in terms of protocols and adherence to them; I was quite surprised to see that mask-wearing compliance was around 50% despite announcements on the Tube that they were mandatory. It was similar scenes at World Travel Market, where mask-wearing was spotty and tended to increase only when I showed up wearing mine.

All of it seemed rather unwise given the spiking cases there, though I wasn’t keen to engage much conversation on that topic…perhaps it’s useful to know should you be travelling there.

2. World Travel Market in London, which is the world’s largest travel exhibition, was probably 50% smaller than usual, with many countries opting to pass on it altogether, including Canada. I think that speaks to both the outlook many countries have on tourism in the short term, and some hesitance to court travellers until the global situation is more stable. It also suggests that supply of trips, hotels, and operators is likely to be well behind demand as travel becomes possible again, so if you’re thinking about making plans to travel, you’d be prudent to act sooner rather than later.

3. The airport experience is definitely less fun than it was pre-pandemic, and there is quite a bit of variation in that some countries have figured out how to make it smooth while others were considerably less well-organized. It’s not such a big deal if you’re passing through one or two countries en route, but multi-country trips right now might be on the painful side. One more reason to go somewhere for a longer stay a la our LiveAway programs, and why these kind of trips may be in vogue as we continue to climb out of the pandemic.

Overall it has been reinvigorating to be back on the road again, and my conversations with tourism-related business owners and operators all point to fully aligned desires to have travellers come back to Europe.

A few quick notes on things from the past week and upcoming – this past week I gave an update on our Madeira LiveAway program (you can see the replay here), as we’ll be changing hotels for it. We’re just finalizing the details from the new hotels and we’ll be relaunching the itinerary in the week ahead.

Also in the week ahead I’ll be doing an update webinar from on the ground here in Cyprus, so if you’re curious about joining us for that LiveAway in March, please join me on Thursday. We’ll do it at 3pm EST rather than our usual 11am time so as not to conflict with Remembrance Day ceremonies in Canada.

Lastly, I’ve received lots of emails recently from our members and I can feel the energy rising as we get closer to doing what we love together again. We’re monitoring the situation in every destination on our roster, and I’m optimistic it won’t be much longer before we’re on the road. Stay safe, stay warm, and keep the positive thoughts coming…the good times are coming back 🙂


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