In response to the continued uncertainty around state and territory borders reopening and COVID-19 affected travel, The Travel Corporation (TTC) has decided alongside its Australian and New Zealand brands, to temporarily pause Australian group touring departures until 1 December 2021.
The decision to pause Australian group touring departures will affect AAT Kings Guided Holidays (First Choice and Best Buys), Contiki, Trafalgar, Insight Vacations and Inspiring Journeys.
However, TTC says AAT Kings Day Tours and Short Breaks programs in the NT will continue to operate in the meantime.
The Travel Corporation says it wishes to make it clear that its Reservations, Sales and Groups & Charters teams remain committed to working closely with travel agency partners and guests to realise their travel plans beyond 1 December 2021.
The group also says it continues to see strong bookings for 2022 and beyond.
Travellers and customer-facing staff members must now be vaccinated
From December 1, The Travel Corporation in Australia and New Zealand will require all eligible travellers and customer-facing team members, be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 for Contiki, Trafalgar, Insight Vacations, Inspiring Journeys and AAT Kings Guided Holidays (First Choice and Best Buys).
“We have sought and will continue to take advice, however, put simply, it is the right thing to do”, said TTC Australia CEO Dave Hosking in a statement.
This move is one that has already been implemented in the US and Europe with an increasing number of travel brands in Australia including Qantas making similar moves.
“Our aim is to help our guests, agency partners and team transition to what is inevitably going to be the “new normal” in safe travel and help the industry rebound in a sustained way,” said Mr Hosking.
The date of 1 December 2021 has been based on the 4-stage plan outlined by the Australian Government, the New Zealand Government COVID-19 vaccine plan and the currently projected vaccine rollout across Australia and New Zealand reaching a point that creates freedom of movement, while also giving guests and employees a clear path forward.
The group also hopes state governments have agreed to a collective approach to managing lockdowns and movement across borders by this time.
The Travel Corporation says its Reservations and Sales teams will be in direct communication with affected guests and agency partners regarding the changes.
For those that cannot commit to being fully vaccinated prior to travel, a refund will be issued.
“Without a doubt, Australia and New Zealand have two of the best travel and tourism industries in the world and we sincerely hope that by 1 December 2021 when vaccination rates have reached 70-80%, we can recommence our Australian group touring operations and support our industry through recovery,” Mr Hosking concluded.
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