If anyone was wondering what travel tour groups were going to look like in the near future, recent announcements from G Adventures – who have been running small group tours with a focus on sustainability since 1990 – may provide some indication or what is to come.
The Toronto based company, which offers some 1,000 tour options in 100 countries, across all 7 continents, has detailed plans for their Vaccinated Tours programme. Each trip in the programme will be led by a fully vaccinated chief experience officer (CEO or tour guide), while all participating travellers must be able to prove they are fully vaccinated.
When surveyed by G Adventures’ global consumer panel (in-field from April 20-26, 2021), 56%* of travellers globally expressed that having a vaccinated CEO was actually more important to them than their fellow travellers being fully vaccinated, which 45% of travellers indicated they would prefer when travelling on a small group tour.
By October, G Adventures will have run more tours than any other operator during the pandemic – with close to 1,000 tours operating safely and successfully since September 2020. Due to this high number of tours and destinations, and the slower roll-out of vaccines in some countries, the adventure operator is also introducing ‘Travel-Ready’ tours to ensure equitable access to tourism employment opportunities for CEOs in destinations which have not yet been able to administer vaccinations as widely as others, and the operator is also actively assisting CEOs to access vaccines in their home countries.
As an example, G Adventures has been working closely with local authorities to help support the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccination for its Inca Trail porters, who received their first vaccination dose this past weekend – you’ll see photos of them through this article. G Adventures’ team of ‘Inca Warriors’ has now safely led 14 trips along the ancient Inca Trail with travellers from Canada, the United States, Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands hiking the recently reopened four-day route to reach the famous Incan citadel of Machu Picchu.
On Vaccinated Tours, all travellers and CEOs must have received a full COVID-19 vaccination with the final dose administered at least 14 days prior to day one of the tour. On Travel-Ready tours, all travellers and CEOs must have either received a full COVID-19 vaccination, or have a negative PCR test within 96 hours prior to day one of their tour’s departure. An icon will be featured next to each trip at gadventures.com to indicate which category of tour the departure falls under.
The Vaccinated Tours and Travel-Ready programs begin 1st October 2021, and represent an evolution of G Adventures’ Travel with Confidence policy which remains in place. This policy was introduced in June 2020, and saw the implementation of enhanced health, safety and physical distancing measures across all tours.
Sean Martin, managing director for Australia and New Zealand at G Adventures, said that while the company is prioritising the placement of vaccinated CEOs, it also wants to continue with its mission of changing lives through travel in as many countries as possible, as quickly as possible, through community tourism.
“By October we will have successfully, and safely, run close to 1,000 tours, supporting employment and boosting the local economies of countries that are dependent on tourism, such as Costa Rica, Ecuador, Egypt, Morocco, Peru and Kenya. We are starting with Vaccinated Tours in October and will be adding future departures as we confirm CEOs and travellers are all fully vaccinated in order to lead and travel on those itineraries.
“As a global operator, we also want to ensure travel equity for those travellers who haven’t been able to be vaccinated as yet due to their age and / or home country, as we have travellers from more than 160 countries join our trips. We expect vaccination rates to increase in most destinations later this year, and as they do we will be operating even more Vaccinated Tours,” says Martin.
For more information on G Adventures new Vaccinated Tours and Travel-Ready programs, please visit gadventures.com.