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Trafalgar Weaves Sustainable Tourism Projects Into Trips That Heighten Guest Experience

Trafalgar offers 232 itineraries, across 7 continents and 37 countries, more choice of destinations and trip styles. Gavin Tollman, Global Chief Executive Officer, Trafalgar tells us about the company plan in 2019.

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Recently, Maya Beach in Thailand had to shut down because of overtourism and take a ‘rest’ to let its fragile marine life to recover. This illustrates clearly that sustainability will be of utmost importance especially as travellers start to realise that they need to preserve and protect the places they visit for future generations.

“We need a more robust approach to educate travellers. Why are they going there? What do they know about the culture of the place? Are they engaging with locals in a meaningful way? Tourism needs to add to the economic long-term sustainability of the places we visit, it cannot simply be a drain on resource and local infrastructure with limited or no local contribution. If they are the latter, then this is the tourism that needs to carefully re-evaluated. Travel companies, in particular, need to help manage this in a responsible manner,” believes the Global Chief Executive Officer of Trafalgar, Gavin Tollman who was recently in India.

As an executive in the travel industry, Tollman firmly believes that this awareness needs to be a basic component in how we run our businesses. “I personally subscribe to the notion of preservation, not elimination,” he said.

“At Trafalgar, we work to weave sustainable tourism projects into our trips that heighten the guest experience. For example – our support with the visitors centre at Giants Causeway – created with sustainable materials to blend into the environment, with a roof seeded from local grass, this has positively impacted the number of visitors to the area and enabled them to host up to 30% more people as they enjoy and understand the environment around them. It manages the “people flow” but does not negatively impact the holiday experience – quite the opposite, the two can work in perfect harmony, it only requires active thought,” he said.

According to Tollman, a three-step approach of dissemination, dispersal and direct action can avoid potential damage.

a) Disseminate tourism – meaning we need to stop creating the bottlenecks that happen when we encourage people to only travel in summer – we need to ensure that we are travelling year-round.

b) We can help alleviate pressures on destinations and also sustain businesses year-round. We need to ensure visitors are dispersing – not everyone trying to see the same site or attraction at the time or season – at Trafalgar, we have delved deeper into destinations to enable our guests to have more interactions with local communities – creating a different way to experience a destination.

c) And we must take direct action now – every one of us should stop and consider where we are going and when and why and how we can be a responsible global citizen.

Tollman projected the top 5 global destinations in 2019:  

Africa – this is a continent that still remains yet under-discovered. With more people seeking experiences today when they travel, Africa makes you feel truly one with nature. It’s truly a land of abundant beauty, history, and stunning scenery. You can’t get more REAL than Africa. By being exposed to Africa’s diversity of people, cultures, landscapes, and lifestyles, everyone who visits develops a wider, richer view of the world. This also provides all of us a huge opportunity to not just learn from the way of life but also to give back.

Croatia is another destination that is fast growing, as more travellers discover this hidden treasure with spectacular landscapes, amazing food, and hospitable locals.

Slovenia, in particular Ljubljana, the cultural capital of Slovenia will also benefit from the influx of travellers Eastern Europe seeking new places to visit that have are culturally rich and historically interesting.

France and Italy will see a resurgence yet again –for those that want to go beyond the iconic. We continue to see an increase in our numbers to both these two countries. In a recent global study on travel we have conducted, 70% of our respondents want trips that they can have new experiences rather than seeing all the sights. In addition to visiting gateway cities like Paris, Milan, and Rome, there will be more people seeking to see these 2 countries in a different way, tasting the food, enjoying the local wines, and visiting private vineyards, enjoying experiences that showcase the good life.

Egypt + Jordan are on the rise – The Middle East is steadily increasing in popularity with 200,000 visitors to the Middle East + North Africa last year = 8,000 more visitors (up by 4%).

To be able to see the Great Pyramids and the treasures of an ancient civilisation that dates back to over 5000 years is awe-inspiring. On our Jordan trips, we’re taking our guests to visit an incredible organistation - The Iraq Al-Amir Women’s Cooperative, which aims to make the women in the area financially independent and to raise their standard of living by increasing their income and preserving local heritage i.e Making soap out of olive to make a living. The cooperative, which is managed and run by local women, has provided training projects for more than 150 women from all villages of Wadi Seer on a variety of handicrafts.

“We hear that our guests find our holidays a perfect holiday to these parts of the world as they not only help them travel with purpose but also are great for first-time and more cautious travellers as they have our Travel Director and Local Specialists guiding them through the local customs, combating language barriers and showing them hidden gems that wouldn’t necessarily be able to find on their own,” he said.

As a company, Trafalgar wants to raise awareness for the environment and inspire other travel companies to do the same. “We want agents to join Trafalgar and help us make a difference in ensuring more people travel throughout the year, not just in peak season. We are working with our travel agent partners to raise awareness about the importance of booking early for holidays abroad to avoid disappointment for trips being sold out. This happens because customers from other parts of the world have already booked their holidays much earlier, as we cannot increase capacity, particularly during peak season or for popular trips.”

Expectations from India market

Tollman feels that the customers want to travel with an operator that has proven credentials. “As a result, we have seen the highest growth out from India at 18%. (globally it is 12%). Our most exciting statistic remains the exponential increase in single-year repeat travellers where this year it was 58.3% for India, and we hope that this number will grow exponentially,” he feels.

Attract more b2b Sales in India

Trafalgar works with the team in Mumbai with expansion plans in other key metros to cover the city as well the surrounding region. “We place a huge priority on training our agent partners and our repeat business has been a big draw for our B2B partners as they can confidently book their clients on a holiday they know will be simply the best in the market,” he said.

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