The global travel pause has got adventurers dreaming about their next wishlist trip, and Antarctica seems to be at the top of the list, with Chimu Adventures reporting a strong 4th quarter.
Like most other travel businesses, Chimu Adventures’ 2020 was story of attrition and survival as a result of the global COVID 19 outbreak. Following the repatriation of their clients in March 2020, Chimu’s phone went silent, with the exception of irregular calls regarding potential refunds or re-bookings.
The last quarter of 2020, however, saw significant changes with bookings to Antarctica demonstrating great resilience as reservations on the Ocean Endeavour, the Antarctica expedition ship, operated in partnership between Chimu and Intrepid Travel, enjoyed a dramatic increase on the back of COVID 19 vaccination hopes.
Chad Carey, co-founder of Chimu Adventures, said, “The 4th Quarter saw the dawn of the company’s sales revival as we moved from a survival footing, to a point where Ocean Endeavour sales were actually slightly higher than our sales for the corresponding months in 2019.”
Carey admits that the majority of that increase was due to strong demand from the North American market, particularly during October and September.
“To add to this, has been the great success of our Southern Lights by Flight product operating here in Australia, which will visit the Southern Aurora by air, launching in Autumn this year.
The Aurora Australis
The flights are operated behind state borders, meaning the flights are not subject to border closure woes. The 10-hour flights will head out from Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane to witness the light phenomenon in the Auroral Zone overnight, before returning to the same state capital in time for breakfast.
There is still availability on these flights, so the enquiries and bookings continue to come in, with some travel agencies booking multiple seats.” Said Carey.
Yet, nothing prepared Chimu for what happened in December. Chimu Adventures’ Ocean Endeavour sales jumped 320% above sales from December 2019, a figure that even stunned the Chimu Management team. These sales were across both the 2021/2022 and 2022/2023 Antarctica season.
Again, sales were skewed towards the North American market but Chimu Adventures’ Reservations Manager, Kieron Tebbutt, reported increased demand within the Australian market too.
“We have had an unexpected surge in demand during December from both Australia and abroad, with two particular bookings in Australia totalling in excess of $180,000.”
Kieron Tebbutt, Chimu Adventures’ Reservations Manager
As a result, Chimu Adventures has already brought back many staff back to full time hours with more expected to follow the next few months.
“The recent announcement by the Federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt, fast-tracking the beginning of Australian COVID19 vaccinations and advising that he expects all Australians will be vaccinated by the end of October 2020, means that many consumers are now starting to consider international travel bookings beyond that date.
“Clients who are more skeptical about the timeframes around international borders are also booking, albeit for the 2022/2023 season. Which is already on sale.” Said Chad Carey.
Antarctica? Yes please
The Antarctica travel season operates between November and March each year and, being a bucket list destination with limited inventory, traditionally sells well in advance, meaning that it is well-positioned to capitalise on the post-vaccination travel boom.
Chimu’s flexible booking policy is also helping to drive sales, with lower deposits and date change flexibility.
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