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Fridays with Firdosh

The readers of the well-respected Condé Nast Traveler casted 1.3 million votes in choosing their travel favourites, including their choice of destinations. Their 33rd annual Reader’s Choice Awards results were out on November 26. Of the best countries of the world in contention, Italy took the #1 position. This is such wonderful news for all of us at Victours! We are proudly Italian owned, and have specialized in and have been promoting tourism to Italy since 1959. Perhaps only a drop in the ocean in the greater scheme of things, however we strived at our best in bringing a great many North Americans to Italy in 2019 and then up to the time in early 2020, before the pandemic.

Speaking of numbers, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organizations (UNWTO), there were 1.4 billion international arrivals worldwide in 2019. I certainly contributed to that statistic, having travelled internationally on 2 occasions during 2019. Just like me, there were probably thousands who took multiple trips, some may have taken 4 or 5...hence such high numbers.

Another interesting statistic, again from UNWTO, is that in 2019, 11% of worldwide international arrivals were solo travellers. That's 154 million people! According to Google, there are 40 million single-person households in Canada and USA combined. Demographically this market segment has shown steady growth, resulting in growing demand for more singles-focused services of all kinds, including solo-travel. It has prompted me to begin developing a few ideas of getting such small groups off the ground and into unique and exotic locales, especially without the hefty single supplements!

The reality is; international travel has become a part of life in the twenty-first century.... at least it was, up until the lockdown in March 2020. Indeed, it will be a welcome relief to bid adieu to “annus horribilis” in 27 days!

Looking towards 2021 and beyond, I applaud our industry’s news media outlets. Their ongoing efforts have helped a great many of us keep our sanity in an otherwise dire situation. Their encouraging editorials and optimistic outlook of ‘there’s light at end of the tunnel’ has kept me going. Even more than celebrating Canadian and American Thanksgivings, it’s the Black-Friday sales on both sides of the border that has boosted my spirits as the airlines, cruise lines, hotels, resorts and tour operators have all pitched in, marketing their incredible offers to attract business. This speaks to the pent-up demand for travel. I have heard that even the slightest hint of return to normalcy will drive the travel business through the roof and the usual supply and demand metrics could trigger capacity issues and price increases. Some reports go further, touting great increases in travel bookings coinciding with the news of several vaccines coming on the market early in 2021.

However, I feel we need a reality check. The travel business, since mid-March has been almost at a standstill, so when I hear about 'percentage increases' in travel bookings, the comparisons can be construed differently. For example, new bookings during May or June 2020 were almost nil. Now, if there is any movement during the same period in 2021 and let’s say the number increases only to 10 new bookings, that’s still a 1,000% increase. Sounds impressive? Percentage-wise yes, but in reality.....?

Perhaps a better way to find the true pulse of the traveller would be to go directly to the source. Therefore, I'd like to ask you, my readers of Friday with Firdosh, for a huge favour. Our readership averages 8,300 but I realize that the majority of you are travel agents and travel suppliers. Therefore, would you mind taking off your Travel Agent hat for a few moments and transform yourselves into would-be travellers in order to reply to the following 2 questions. I also realize that travel being your livelihood, your response may show a bias, however I will respect your honest opinion. Staying anonymous, you do not have to worry about any follow-up sales pitches. Please follow the link below.

Moving forward, your response will immensely assist us in strategizing our business offerings.

Sincere thanks and wishing you all a very pleasant upcoming festive season!

Until next time.

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