Nearly three-quarters of tour operators (70 percent) are rescheduling trips to October 2020 and beyond, with many predicting significant revenue declines in 2020, according to an outlook survey conducted by WeTravel, a payment and booking platform for multi-day and group tour operators.
Nonetheless, respondents to the early April survey – which gauged the impact of the coronavirus on smaller tour operators – were looking ahead to 2021 with optimism. Although 55 percent had a negative outlook for the second half of this year, that number dropped to 22 percent for 2021.
Almost one-third of respondents were positive about 2021 business, 26 percent have a “fair” outlook and 21 percent said they are still uncertain about what the future will hold.
The survey included 592 tour operator respondents from smaller companies, 42 percent of which were from the U.S., 59 percent of which specialize in multi-day tours and 41 percent in day tours.
Nearly 90 percent of respondents employed fewer than 20 people, with 75 percent in business for five-plus years.
Almost one-third of respondents rescheduled trips to the June-September 2020 period, while nearly 40 percent are postponing trips to an October-December timeframe. The remainder said they are delaying trips until next year.
Upward of half of the respondents are predicting 2020 revenue declines of more than 50 percent over 2019 – with 10 percent anticipating declines as high as 90 percent.
WeTravel said the 10 percent figure could possibly swell to as high as 21 percent, as some respondents were still uncertain about the extent of the pandemic’s impact.
Almost half of respondents were able to provide traveler refunds, with 27 percent waiting for refunds from vendors. Only 39 percent of vendors, however, were amenable to providing refunds, with 11 percent unwilling to do so.
Forty-four percent said they believe it will take six months to a year for the travel industry to make a recovery.
“COVID-19 has given tour operators challenges that the industry has never experienced before, as shown by these survey results,” said Zaky Prabowo, WeTravel’s chief marketing officer and co-founder. “We need governmental bodies to make policies and provide financial assistance. We are asking for support from travelers by accepting travel vouchers or rescheduling their trips instead of asking for refunds. We are asking for cooperation from our vendors to renegotiate our payments. Only if we do this together, [can] the industry can survive.”
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