The UK and Ireland chairman of the Pacific Asia Travel Association believes we are finally in the “endgame” of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Chris Crampton said the roll out of three vaccination programmes represented a “positive shift” in the course of the crisis. 

“So, whilst still a difficult time, we are increasingly confident about the future,” he said.

“There is considerable pent-up demand for holidays and there will unquestionably be reticence concerning travel from many, but to a fair extent this doesn’t matter – it isn’t a question of whether travel and tourism will be better than five years ago, it’s that it will be an awful lot better than 2020.

“As the vaccination programme rolls out across the UK, and the virus is brought under control again, I believe we will see consumer confidence rise, and sooner than some may think. 

“It isn’t necessarily a matter of confidence returning when we are through this, it is that confidence will begin to return when it is clear we are getting through this, and that will be earlier. With certainty will come conviction to travel.”

PATA tour operator members were reporting increased enquiries before the latest lockdown restrictions were imposed on January 6.

“Airlines had begun the process of reinstating routes; operators promoting long lead travel and hotels and attractions are Covid secure and ready to welcome guests,” Crampton added.

“A handful of countries in the region are now in the early stages of reopening their borders for tourism which is encouraging, for example Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Dubai and Maldives albeit with varying levels of entry restrictions – visas, quarantine periods.

“Other countries including Australia, New Zealand, China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan are experimenting with country-to-country travel bubbles to jump-start aviation, tourism and business travel.

“Frustrating as it might be, there isn’t going to be a sudden relaxing of restrictions; it will be a phased approach, and so every new step forward towards allowing travel is welcome in itself, even if it doesn’t provide a silver bullet to an immediate resumption of tourism.

“In the meantime, PATA continues to support its members and agents and provide up-to-date factual information. Our calendar of events continues virtuall) and we’ve added new training and networking events to maintain opportunities for development.

“There are some really exciting developments in the region too from new hotel and attraction openings, global events, a return to cultural festivals and a greater focus on sustainability.”