Contiki to launch first international trip since COVID pandemic


It was the news Australians waited a year to hear.

When New Zealand finally announced the trans-Tasman travel bubble last month, it brought relief to those aching to see loved ones and hope to frustrated travellers keen for an adventure.

At youth travel company Contiki, the announcement was its green light to get back to what it did best – helping young people discover the world.

Now, more than a year after global tours were aborted due to the worsening coronavirus crisis, the first international Contiki trip since the pandemic is about to set off in New Zealand.

Contiki is offering 11 tours across the ditch, with the first cab off the rank, the Sweet As tour of the South Island, departing on May 23.

The company brought back Australian domestic tours at the end of last year but international travel was what everyone was really waiting for. As soon as the trans-Tasman travel bubble was announced last month, Contiki saw bookings of its New Zealand tours skyrocket by 300 per cent.

“We’ve had trips in Australia, and people have been excited about seeing their own backyard, but the essence of Contiki is seeing the world,” Contiki Australia’s managing director Katrina Barry told news.com.au.

RELATED: What it was like on first flight to NZ

“It’s really nice to see borders finally reopening and groups of young people are able to come together and connect with each other through their love of travel.

“I think people have been feeling a little bit gypped that 2020 took that away from us, that big overseas holiday or that gap year, and we know the younger generation has been more open to travelling as soon as they can.”

Research by Contiki into the travel attitudes of 18 to 35-year-olds found not only were they raring to get out and see the world, they missed opportunities to meet strangers and make friends overseas.

“There had been a bit of a trend towards younger people being a bit too cool to go on a group trip, but they’re telling us that now, they’re really missing connecting with other people,” Ms Barry said.

“Contiki is flavour of the month now. They’re realising they can go overseas and meet people from all over the world and a company is going to make sure the experience is fun but safe for them.”

It had been a long year for the travel industry, and tour operators in particular, since international borders slammed shut in March last year. Contiki’s entire global network of hundreds of tours across six continents was brought to a standstill.

“No one knew how long it would go on,” Ms Barry said. “But we thought, never waste a crisis. What can we do that will make us smarter and better? What are the projects we’ve been wanted to do for ages but never have time to do?”

As the long months ticked by, Contiki kept busy with its sustainability strategy – it recently announced it will be an entirely carbon neutral company by 2022 – and went about vetting each of the companies it worked with on tours, from hotels and restaurants to transport operators to ensure they’d be up to top-notch standard when travel returned.

RELATED: Qantas hints at next bubble destinations

RELATED: Hong Kong eyes bubble with Australia

Australian trips resumed late last year, including an island-hopping tour of North Queensland, and then it was a matter of waiting for that bubble with our neighbours across the ditch.

With New Zealand tours about to get under way, Ms Barry said Contiki was already looking ahead to Singapore, which is likely to be the next destination to open a travel bubble with Australia.

“We’re thinking Japan after the Olympics as well,” she said.

As the world continues to reopen in travel bubbles, young tourists are likely to lead the charge, armed with savings and built-up annual leave, and perhaps more adventurous and flexible than older generations.

While Contiki’s best selling European tours have generally been around 14 days long, the current top selling tour is a mammoth 45-day odyssey across Europe in 2022.

“I think there’s a sense among young people of, ‘I didn’t appreciate travelling as much when it was too easy and it was constantly there for me’,” Ms Barry said.

“Now they don’t want to take it for granted and want to see and do as much as they can. They’re thinking, ‘I want a long trip, a big trip, because I don’t know when I might be able to do that again’.”



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How to get cheap tickets


Travellers can snap up a return fare between Sydney and Melbourne for less than $60 after Jetstar relaunched its ‘Return for Free’ birthday sale.

It’s the latest deal offered during a growing price war bubbling within the nation’s aviation industry.

The low-budget arm of the Qantas group revealed its renowned sale would make a comeback as a renewed push to reignite domestic travel.

There are 340,000 seats available for as little as $55 for a return fare.

Club Jetstars members can get their hands on discounted fares from Tuesday but the general public will have to wait until 12.01am Wednesday.

Jetsetters can travel to holiday hot spots, including Hamilton Island, on discounted fares from early October.

Some of the sale fares include Sydney to Launceston from $89, Brisbane to Uluru from $179, Adelaide to Hobart from $102, Ballina to Sydney for $102 and Melbourne to the Whitsundays for $157.

“For added peace of mind, Jetstar has introduced greater flexibility if there are any changes to flights due to border changes,” the airline said in a statement.

“If customers are affected by changes to border restrictions, they will always be able to get a credit voucher to the full value of their booking.”

RELATED: Airline’s launch remarkably cheap fares between Sydney and Melbourne

The announcement comes a day after Jetstar unveiled $30 flights between Sydney and Melbourne in response to moves by rivals Regional Express and Virgin Australia, which also revealed $39 fares between the Victorian and NSW capitals.

The price war was initially sparked by Rex, which announced the sale first to boost travel numbers on the major route.

Jetstar’s fares are available until the end of August, while regional carrier Rex’s one-way $39 flights are available until August 28 and Virgin’s deal is valid till December 15.

Both carriers include luggage, and Rex’s service will offer in-flight refreshments.

On Monday deputy Rex chairman John Sharp said the sale would boost tourist numbers between the two major cities, which missed out on the federal government’s discounted tickets measure designed to stimulate the travel industry.

“Peak tourism bodies reported yesterday that flagship stimulus programs from state and federal governments have not benefited Melbourne and Sydney,” Mr Sharp said.

“I believe this initiative will single-handedly revive a moribund travel and hospitality industry in the two cities.”

A list of routes included in the birthday sale are on the Jetstar website.

– additional reporting by Gerard Cockburn



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Qantas reveals where mystery flights have gone


Qantas has relaunched its nostalgic mystery flights to try to revive a sense of wanderlust within a travel industry crushed by the coronavirus pandemic.

On Sunday, more than 100 eager travellers (including this reporter) arrived at Sydney’s domestic airport to board a flight where the destination remained unknown.

All passengers were told beforehand was to pack for a tropical beach island where the weather would be “balmy”.

Huddled in the business lounge over a pre-flight breakfast, passengers – including members of the Qantas 747 fan club – pointed to destinations such as the Whitsundays, far north Queensland or Lord Howe Island.

Qantas in March announced the return of the one-off flights, which would depart from Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney to various interstate locations around the country.

The flights to undisclosed destinations are in conjunction with local tour operators that provide passengers a tailored day trip.

Boarding shortly after 8am, passengers were given a mystery flight gift pack that included the airline’s famous pyjama set and on-off apparel for the flight.

However, the aircrew remained tight-lipped until half an hour before landing when it was revealed the final destination was Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays.

Qantas Captain Matt Hicks said a fair amount of planning went into the day, including a low scenic flight around the Whitsundays and its iconic Whitehaven Beach.

“The whole pandemic has been really hard for the industry,” he said.

“For us doing things like this and generating a bit of excitement … is fantastic.”

Arriving at 11am, guests were quickly scooted off on buggies for a welcome drink and a panoramic view at One Tree Hill before a smoking ceremony conducted by a local Indigenous group.

After taking in the breathtaking views of the famous islands that straddle the central part of the Great Barrier Reef, the buggies took travellers to Catseye Beach for an afternoon of beachside fun and a long lunch.

Speaking to NCA NewsWire during the lunch of fine wines and a buffet of Queensland’s finest seafood, loyal Qantas customer Fiona Downes said the experience had brought a bit of magic back to travelling.

“I just found that a huge part of what I was used to had gone (when the pandemic started),” Ms Downes said.

“Any opportunity to do these kinds of novelty flights is great.”

Mystery flights were a major trend in the 1990s when customers rocked up to the airport and hopped on a last-minute flight to a location where seats were still available on the plane.

The sales tactic was a way for Qantas to sell any last-minute seats to maximise the cost efficiency of a flight.

However, the new version of the flight scheme sets customers back $737 for an economy ticket.

After a day on the beach and a quick boogie to the cover band playing hits such as Escape (The Pina Colada Song) and Under the Sea from Disney’s The Little Mermaid, it was time to return to Sydney.

The mystery flights are off the back of recent promotions run by Qantas, including its Flight to Somewhere and Flight to Nowhere specials, which were scenic getaway flights with low-level fly-bys over iconic Australian landmarks.

The first mystery flight launched was the Brisbane journey which took passengers to the NSW city of Orange.

The Melbourne version of the Qantas special flight is yet to be revealed.



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Hidden frequent flyer trap in Australia’s half price flights scheme


A new travel industry support scheme promises 800,00 half-price tickets to popular Australian destinations. But what does that mean for frequent flyers and avid points collectors?

Around 46,000 half-price domestic tickets will go on sale each week from April 1 to July 31.

That’s potentially good news for frequent flyers who spent most of 2020 in pandemic-induced lockdown.

High-status flyers saw their existing status extended by Qantas and Virgin across 2020, so there hasn’t been an immediate need to panic about needing to fly purely to keep a Gold or Platinum passenger ranking.

RELATED: How to get your half-price flight

RELATED: Flights will drop to under $30

However, the option to actually hit the road and earn points on cheaper tickets is still very appealing, especially now that both Qantas and Virgin have their lounges open.

The key is making the most of those deals as they emerge is to understand the fine print.

Firstly, the half-price offer only applies to 13 specific destinations, where the government wants to encourage visitors because tourism is a key element of the local economy.

In Queensland, that covers flights to Cairns, the Gold Coast, the Whitsundays and the Sunshine Coast.

For the Northern Territory, Alice Springs and Lasseter make the grade, while in Tasmania, it’s Launceston, Devonport and Burnie.

South Australia scores with Kangaroo Island, while WA offers Broome.

NSW is only represented by Merimbula, and Victoria by Avalon.

Bear in mind that if there isn’t a direct flight from your nearest capital city to one of the 13 target markets, you may not see any sale fares, or might need to pay for a regular seat to connect.

It’s worth noting that Australia’s most popular route, Sydney-Melbourne, is not on that list.

We’ve seen lots of competitive fares between those cities anyway, especially since Rex entered the market.

But those flights won’t be a points or discount bonanza under this scheme.

A second key consideration is making sure you choose the right airline.

While Qantas owns Jetstar, a standard Jetstar sale fare doesn’t earn any Qantas Points.

You can upgrade the fare to earn points by adding in bundles, but Finder analysis suggests that this won’t be worth it in many instances.

On Qantas itself and on Virgin, sale fares don’t earn the same number of points as higher-priced seats.

That’s not a reason to avoid them, just a reminder to temper any expectations about how much you’ll earn.

Angus Kidman is the editor-in-chief and frequent flyer guru for comparison site Finder.



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Family’s travel plans ruined over wheelchair debacle


A Brisbane woman battling muscular dystrophy has been barred from flying on a Virgin plane because her wheelchair is 1cm above the airline’s accepted height dimensions.

Emma Weatherley tried to book a trip from Brisbane to Cairns for next month on April 6 with Flight Centre, but was told the airline would not accept her motorised wheelchair height of 85cm aboard.

“I went to America in 2017 with Virgin – booked through Flight Centre – and took this exact wheelchair without any problems,” she told NCA NewsWire.

“This chair fits in the boot of my Corolla and apparently there’s not enough room on a Boeing 737. It defies logic for me.”

It comes after Virgin cancelled her trip to the United States late last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The mother-of-two then got the money refunded in the way of a future travel credit and tried to book a domestic trip with her family instead, but the 40-year-old hit a curveball.

According to correspondence seen by NCA NewsWire, Flight Centre said Virgin was “unwilling to budge” on the height limit and “not willing to offer refunds on the credits”.

“The best option is to possibly go to the airport with your chair to check in, hopefully they accept it at the 85cm, but if they do not, then you would need to remove the wheels so it fits the accepted dimensions,” Ms Weatherley’s Flight Centre travel agent said in an email.

More correspondence from Virgin sent to Ms Weatherley suggested her chair “be dismantled or lowered below 84cm”.

But Ms Weatherley said her wheelchair “was not designed to be dismantled”.

“The wheels alone cost $10,000 and you would need to disassemble the motor inside them – it’s not designed for this, it will weaken the motors when they’re put back together.”

She also said hiring a manual wheelchair “was not an option”.

“I have muscular dystrophy – I don’t have the power in my arms to propel the wheels forward,” she said.

“I would literally need to get modifications done to my wheelchair to make it fit, which is ridiculous and would cost more money.”

Ms Weatherly wants a full refund of the $8500 she paid for her cancelled USA trip, rather than the travel credit she received.

“Travelling with a disability should not be made this difficult – it’s exhausting. If I can’t travel anywhere because of my wheelchairthen at least offer me a full refund.”

She said she did have travel insurance with “cancel for any reason cover”, but canned it once she accepted the flight credits.

Virgin said it did not accept electronic wheelchairs over the maximum height of 84cm for safety reasons.

If a customer’s wheelchair did not fit within the dimensions after being adjusted or disassembled they would need to travel with an alternative mobility aid – such as a manual wheelchair – which did fit within the allowable dimensions.

It’s understood Virgin provided Flight Centre with authority to provide a travel credit for the value of Ms Weatherley’s booking from Brisbane to Cairns.

Virgin Australia Group spokesman Kris Taute said: “We are working closely with the customers travel agent to resolve this case.”

Ms Weatherley’s travel agency Flight Centre confirmed it was working with Virgin on a solution.

“We have reached out to our contacts at Virgin to try and find the best possible solution however at this time, we do not have a clear response,” spokeswoman Anna Burgdorf said.

“We will continue to work with Mrs Weatherley to find the best solution for her circumstances.

“Flight Centre’s customers are incredibly to important to our business and we continue to advocate to find the best solution to any issues or concerns as they arise.”

Ms Weatherley has sought help from consumer advocate Adam Glezer’s group Travel Industry Issues.

The country’s travel industry has borne a brutal brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic after the federal government slammed international borders shut in March last year in a bid to stop the virus spreading to Australia.

Virgin collapsed into administration in April after it was no longer able to service its debts, while the pandemic forced the grounding of most of its fleet and starved the country’s second biggest airline of cash.

Deloitte stepped in to restructure Virgin, before selling it to American private investment firm Bain Capital.

Flight Centre posted a $662 million statutory loss after tax last year as a result of the pandemic, forcing the ASX-listed travel agent to close about 400 of the 740 stores it operated pre-COVID.

anthony.piovesan@news.com.au



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Arthur Zacharias: Ponzi scheme fraudster jailed


A fraudster travel agent who left clients stranded overseas has been jailed for more than three years.

Arthur Zacharias, 49, operated a Ponzi scheme and stole hundreds of thousands of dollars by defrauding the business he worked for, his clients and a former Hells Angels bike boss.

The court was told the fraudster also tried to purchase the Axis Travel agency in December 2015 with a false bank deposit receipt of $50,000.

District Court Judge Simon Stretton said Zacharias’s “serious and protracting” offending caused his victims to feel “hopelessness”, “misery”, “anger” and “frustration”.

He said Zacharias also made no attempt to pay back any money.

“Your behaviour resulted in significant trauma for a number of your victims as they realised the travel arrangements they thought had been made on their behalf had not been made,” Judge Stretton told the court on Thursday.

“Indeed, more than one was stranded in a foreign country, with you only purchasing a one-way ticket when they thought a return ticket had been purchased.

“It is clear from the facts that the significant amount of funds taken were just used by you for your own personal purposes.

“The case against you is overwhelming. Not have you nor do you intend to make any form of reparation.”

The former travel agent pleaded guilty to 19 counts of theft, two counts of deception, one count of dishonest dealing with documents, two counts of misuse of personal identification or information, and two counts of dishonest manipulation of a machine.

Zacharias’s offending occurred between July 2014 and June 2016 while he worked as a subcontractor for Axis Travel.

During that period, he was also sentenced for three counts of obtaining a financial advantage.

For his current offending, Zacharias was sentenced to five-and-a-half years imprisonment with a non-parole period of three years and two months.

Following that jail time, the fraudster will then spend a further nine months behind bars to complete the previous sentence for three counts of obtaining a financial advantage.

Under those charges, he wrongly claimed $35,211.55 through the Newstart allowance that he was not entitled to.

Outside of court, Axis Travel director Max Najar said he and the business shouldered about 55 per cent of the costs incurred by Zacharias’s offending, while 45 per cent was covered through insurance.

In a previous hearing, he said Zacharias’ crimes amounted to more than $596,894 as well as lost time and health issues.

“It would have been nice if it was a longer sentence,” he told reporters on Thursday.

“It has impacted us on our health, our clients’ health and the financial health of the business.”

Mr Najar explained his former employee’s dealings were “easily” undetected because he used false credits cards, separate phone numbers and told clients not to contact the business and deal with him directly.

“As soon as we discovered it, we dismissed him immediately … had he (not be arrested and charged) he would still be on the streets causing all the havoc in the travel industry.”



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Nautilus Maldives resort costs $1m to rent for VIP treatment


If you have at least $1.3 million to blow on an exclusive private island stay, you can buy out a five-star resort in the Maldives for four nights.

A spokesperson for The Nautilus Maldives confirmed to Fox News that its small island resort can be taken over for a starting rate of $US250,000 ($A324,000) per night.

However, terms and conditions listed on its “An Ultra-Luxe Island to Yourself” web page states guests are required to stay for minimum of four nights – a visit that would set them back around $1.3 million.

The unique opportunity is being offered in light of the “change and uncertainty” the travel industry is facing after nearly a year since the pandemic was declared.

RELATED: Biggest cabin beds ever, at economy price

Guests who can afford the private island buyout are granted “ultimate seclusion and exclusive use” of The Nautilus Maldives. They also receive a VIP welcome at Velana International Airport with private lounge access, swift travel document processing and limousine service that transfers guests to a seaplane.

The luxurious resort has 26 beach and ocean houses, and is located in Baa Atoll – an administrative division of the Maldives that has received a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve designation from the United Nations.

Each house comes with a temperature-controlled freshwater infinity pool and private decks in addition to full butler services.

RELATED: Ultimate Aussie holiday to add to your list

Complimentary inclusions provided to guests who book the entire resort include access to Wi-Fi throughout the island, still and sparkling water in-house and at restaurants, and a selection of fitness classes and daily laundry service for a maximum of four items.

And as a tropical island destination, The Nautilus Maldives provides guests who take over its resort with access to snorkelling equipment and non-motorised water sports free of charge.

Other amenities include a spa, gym and arena that allows visitors to play futsal, badminton, tennis or volleyball.

Multiple excursions and experiences are available at the resort as well, including manta ray tours, private yacht and seaplane rides, movie nights on the sand and more.

Resorts and hotels in the Maldives have been open to visitors since July and August.

There have been a little over 19,000 confirmed COVID-19 infections throughout the archipelago since March, according to the country’s Ministry of Health.

This article originally appeared on Fox News and was reproduced with permission



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Tourism industry pleads for post JobKeeper support from government


Sixty per cent of tourism businesses will go bust unless the Federal Government throws a financial lifeline to the sector after the expiration of the JobKeeper program in March, industry insiders have warned.

Tourism bosses will hold crisis talks with Minister Dan Tehan on Wednesday, pleading the case for additional government support after March 28.

The meeting comes as a new campaign, called #SaveTheTravelIndustry, raises awareness of the sector’s plight.

A petition on change.org calling for JobKeeper to be extended for the tourism industry had attracted more than 15,000 supporters as of 5pm Tuesday.

Tom Manwaring, chair of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA), told News Corp the industry was in crisis.

“It will decimate the industry if there’s no further support after 1 April,” he said.

“We estimate the collapse could be as high as 60 per cent.”

While local tour operators enjoyed some periods of activity during the COVID downturn as borders reopened, Mr Manwaring said, international travel agents had had “no respite”.

Pre-COVID, three in four Australians used a travel agent when going overseas.

Mr Manwaring said these agents’ expertise would be needed once international travel resumed – but it was not possible to just “mothball” an entire industry in the meantime.

“It’s easy to say, turn the lights out and come back in 12 months, but all the staff who have got the experience will be gone; they’ll be off in other industries,” he said.

Dennis Bunnik, chairman of the Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO), said it’s “not an industry you can turn off and on at will”.

“If you turn it off, you turn it off for good.”

Should Australian travel agencies fail, Mr Bunnik said, “large online operators from overseas will swoop in”.

“But there’ll be no jobs in Australia, and in the next crisis all these people will be on their own, and it will be DFAT having to pick up the pieces and help Australians in trouble,” he said.

“During this crisis the travel industry helped to repatriate hundreds of thousands of Australians from overseas without DFAT involvement at all. We can’t afford to lose these skills, we can’t afford to lose this industry, and really now it’s a matter of survival.”

Breakaway Travel in Sydney’s Western Suburbs has been a successful business for 45 years, but owner George Vella said without JobKeeper supporting his three remaining staff (down from eight), he’d be “struggling to keep up”.

“I’d be waiting for the next big bill to come in and that will be the one to take it over the line,” he said.

Mr Vella described the past year as a “nightmare”, and the situation had only been exacerbated by the opening and closing of state borders.

“We would have been better off doing nothing,” he said. Border issues had meant that some 80 per cent of bookings over the past four or five months had to be cancelled.

“It’s been such a frustrating time,” he said. “The whole country’s being ruined because of the Premiers’ decisions (on borders).”

Besides calling for federal government support and a consistent approach to borders from the state premiers, the campaign is also urging everyday Australians to use travel agents when booking their domestic holidays.

Mr Bunnik said such a move would help save jobs, but it was also in travellers’ interests.

“COVID is going to mean a significant period of uncertainty with changes in requirements and borders and procedures, and they can change very quickly,” he said. “One of the big advantages of booking through a locally based tour operator, agent or wholesaler is you’ve got somebody in your corner. You’ve got somebody who can help you navigate your way through those challenges and help you out.”

In a statement, Tourism Minister Dan Tehan suggested some continued support for the industry could be forthcoming, saying he would “continue to consult and work with the tourism sector across Australia, on a post-JobKeeper plan for tourism.”

The Federal Government had supported the industry during COVID-19 in other ways, he said, including a $5 million domestic holiday advertising campaign, $308 million for regional airlines, $128 million for the COVID-19 Consumer Travel Support Program and $50 million for the regions.

“To support travel agents specifically, we have already paid $54 million to travel agents from the $128 million targeted grant program and I encourage all eligible travel agents to make a grant application for funding,” Mr Tehan said.



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Virgin Australia cancel all short haul international flights until June


Virgin Australia will axe all flights to New Zealand, Bali and Fiji until at least June due to ongoing uncertainty about when international travel can resume.

The major airline announced on Tuesday all short-haul international services would be cancelled until June 19.

This covers flights to New Zealand, Indonesia and the Pacific Islands of Fiji, Samoa and Vanuatu.

Virgin’s decision comes after the federal government decided to halt the travel bubble with New Zealand after the detection of a locally acquired case of COVID-19.

“Because of ongoing international border closures and government restrictions, it is likely to be an extended period of time before we’re able to appropriately resume short-haul international flying,” a spokesman said.

“We are hopeful that countries will develop safe-travel zones but need to be realistic considering operational limitations and the uncertainty around frameworks that support the sensible opening and closing of borders.”

Customers impacted by cancelled flights will be contacted and have the ability to re-book or seek reimbursement.

Virgin Australia intends to remain flexible in its approach and will reassess if quarantine-free travel with New Zealand, Pacific Islands or parts of Indonesia are brought forward.

The resumption of flights will also be determined on demand.

Domestic flights have also been impacted by state border closures over the summer, including the recent border lockdown in Western Australia.

The coronavirus pandemic has crippled the aviation and travel industry.

The airline entered voluntary administration in March with private equity firm Bain Capital acquiring the company for restructure in order to make it profitable.

Rival airline group Qantas has not announced any changes to its operating schedule regarding short-haul international journeys.



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Good news for people with wanderlust: Frequent travellers 7 per cent happier – travel


People dreaming of travel post-Covid-19 now have some scientific data to support their wanderlust. A recent study has found that frequent travellers are happier with their lives than people who don’t travel at all.

The new study was published in the journal of Tourism Analysis.

Chun-Chu (Bamboo) Chen, an assistant professor in the School of Hospitality Business Management at Washington State University, conducted a survey to find out why some individuals travel more frequently than others and whether or not travel and tourism experiences have a prolonged effect on happiness and wellness.

The results of his analysis show individuals who pay more attention to tourism-related information and frequently discuss their travel plans with friends are more likely to go on regular vacations than those who aren’t constantly thinking about their next trip.

Additionally, participants in the survey who reported regularly travelling at least 75 miles away from home also reported being about 7 per cent happier when asked about their overall well-being than those who reported travelling very rarely or not at all.

“While things like work, family life and friends play a bigger role in overall reports of well-being, the accumulation of travel experiences does appear to have a small yet noticeable effect on self-reported life satisfaction,” Chen said. “It really illustrates the importance of being able to get out of your routine and experience new things.”

Previous studies have examined the stress relief, health and wellness benefits of tourism experiences, but they have tended to examine the effect of a single trip or vacation. Chen’s research takes these previous studies one step further by looking at the sustained benefits of travel over the course of a year.

Participants in the study were asked about the importance of travel in their lives, how much time they spent looking into and planning future vacations, and how many trips they went on over a year. They were also asked about their perceived life satisfaction. Out of the 500 survey participants, a little over half reported going on more than four pleasure trips a year. Only 7 per cent of respondents did not take any vacations.

As travel restrictions due to Covid-19 begin to relax in the future, the research could have important implication for both tourists and the tourism industry. Based on the results of the study, Chen said travel companies, resorts and even airlines could launch social media campaigns, such as creating hashtags about the scientific benefits of vacation, to spark people’s interest in discussing their opinions about travel.

“This research shows the more people talk about and plan vacations the more likely they are to take them,” he said. “If you are like me and chomping at the bit to get out of dodge and see someplace new, this research will hopefully be some additional good motivation to start planning your next vacation.”

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

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