With the winter solstice upon us, a considerable number of travelers are venturing into to a diverse collection of destinations during the 2021/22 winter season, said travel advisors.
“Forget the headlines, the Churchill & Turen guest can only stay away from freshly baked croissants and bistecca alla fiorentina for so long,” said Richard Turen, managing director of the Naperville, Ill.-based agency, referring to France and Italy, respectively.
“Given that our country is the epicenter of a major pandemic and about 40 percent of our population rejects travel science, we are finding that the desire to leave the home base is stronger than we ever remember it,” he said.
“Our forward bookings are exceeding all of our own conservative predictions. We are working weekends and we never reduced staff hours.”
Antoine D. Wilson, owner of Boca Raton, Fla.-based A.D. Elite Travels, is witnessing a rise in bookings to the Middle East and Dubai.
“A lot of this has been based on my recommendations to clients, as winter 2022 is the ideal time of year to travel to Dubai,” he said, adding that the Expo 2020, which was canceled last year, is currently taking place at the destination.
In addition to more exotic locales, it should come as no surprise that travelers are choosing to visit such perennial favorites as Mexico, the Caribbean and Hawaii.
“For the 2022 winter season, the Cancun/Riviera Maya region continues to be our top seller,” said Kim Cook, owner of Love to Travel in Overland Park, Kan.
“From Kansas City, that is our only destination with nonstop flights, so we have a high demand for that location.
“We have been getting more last-minute bookings than we have in years’ past,” Cook said, adding that approximately 25 percent of requests are for Hawaii, a much higher percentage compared to last year due to the no-return COVID testing requirement.
“Some of these clients reached out months ago but were not feeling comfortable with COVID requirements,” she said. “They are now tired of waiting and just want to get to the beach.”
While Cook was anticipating that January 2022 would be a record booking month based on the number of new requests the agency was receiving, “recent headlines of rising COVID cases and the new variant will most likely slow the requests down.”
For JoAnne Weeks, vacation division manager of Acendas Travel, Kansas City, Kan., winter booking number are exceeding the agency’s expectations, with many customers traveling to winter “anywhere warm,” including Mexico, the Caribbean and Hawaii.
“We have had the most new leads to our company in the last year as of last month, and we are traveling ahead for this month as well,” Weeks said. “December normally slows down the closer we get to the holidays. We have also seen an increase in requests for gift certificates this year.”
Sarah Kline, president if Time for Travel, had similar good news to report. “We’ve seen a burst in new bookings and demand since Thanksgiving, and they all want January/February getaways” she said. “There’s a little hesitation to pull the trigger but the demand is there.”
She added, “My clients are done cooking their own meals and pouring their own drinks. They want to be served, catered to and it has to be in [a place that is] nicer than the house they’ve been stuck in for over a year.
“The all-inclusive market is booming – [clients] don’t want to search out where to eat or find activities. They want it all right at their fingertips and are looking for a good time… right now they want a change of scenery and to feel like life is okay and normal again.”