Easy overseas travel may not be on the cards yet due to ongoing travel restrictions, but Hong Kong agents are starting to see bookings and enquiries for outbound travel coming in from end-2021 onwards.
Even amid the current restrictions around travel, with Hong Kong requiring any incoming or returning travellers to undergo a 21-day quarantine, there was still a trickle of demand for overseas travel.
"We recently had two clients who did almost a month in Kenya and they did their 21-day quarantine on return – and said they would do it again”, said Monica Alsagoff, the Singapore head of A2A Safaris and A2A Journeys and head of marketing Asia. “Another
client did a month in Kenya and he parked himself in Eastern Europe after as he had a project there. Both of these were Christmas trips."
For now, A2A Safaris is focusing on marketing Kenya for post-pandemic trips as the destination has world-class Covid-19 safety protocols, and is one of Africa’s most beautiful and diverse countries. Alsagoff added that it felt like experiencing Kenya
in the 1980s, back when safari tourism was just starting to kick off.
The travel firm has also been helping clients apply for second passports for accessible travel into Africa. “Our clients are yearning to rekindle their most cherished connections in locations that invite discovery and fresh new perspectives, and we
have been working in partnerships with second passport companies. The Congo passports are flying off the shelves but most of our travel inquiries are for holidays."
For Charlotte Travel, recent outbound bookings include Christmas in the Maldives, gorilla trekking in Rwanda, and a historical tour through Yunnan, China (pictured).
Interestingly, the Maldives' welcoming policy towards tourists amid the pandemic
has led to some bookings for stranded clients trying to get back to Hong Kong from the UK.
“One such family recently sought our help on booking a hotel in the Maldives for three weeks before carrying on to Hong Kong in order to work their way around these restrictions," said Lucy Jackson, co-founder and director of Lightfoot Travel.
“We have families who are travelling to second home countries such as Europe, UK and America, etc, to spend prolonged periods of time with extended family in places where they have a lot more space”, she told Travel Weekly Asia. “While these aren’t really
‘holidays’, but we hope that clients will be able to book vacations sooner — probably if and when the quarantine period is shortened."
As well, some travel agents have noted a couple of enquiries from Hong Kong residents scouting potential overseas destinations to migrate to and seeking assistance with their transition.
Charlotte Harris of Charlotte Travel said that the luxury travel agency have had a number of clients asking for immigration support and travel logistics in recent months, as more Hong Kong locals and expatriates look to leave the city.
Popular destinations include Laos, Cambodia (pictured), the Philippines, the UAE, Maldives, Indonesia and Thailand.
Growing desire for far-flung destinations
Generally, travel agents are seeing an uptick in enquiries and bookings for travel when the Covid-19 pandemic is expected to subside.
“We’ve had enquiries for holidays at the end of 2021 or well into 2022”, noted Lightfoot Travel's Jackson, with Laos, Cambodia and the Philippines among the most popular destinations for this Christmas. “Fly and flop” holidays have been very popular as people are looking at itineraries that do not require too much bouncing from place to place given
how suddenly travel restrictions can pop up.”
Other destinations of interest, according to Chinmoy Lad, the founder of luxury travel consultancy The Suite Life, include the UAE, Maldives, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Cambodia. “This is followed by African safaris and islands. The South American
wilderness is high on the list for when there is unrestricted travel."
Intriq Journey’s founder Kok Yong Lim told Travel Weekly Asia that they launched a small Saudi Arabia group offering in January 2021, and have now found enough people to guarantee the trip's departure. "We also have some Antarctica bookings," he added.
At Charlotte Travel, clients have been booking for late 2021, 2022 and 2023 — all of which are either tailor-made and personalised itineraries or cruises. Recent outbound bookings include Christmas in the Maldives, gorilla trekking in Rwanda, and a historical tour through Yunnan, China.
Many travellers are still waiting for the travel bubbles to open up for destinations closer to home. “We believe the travel bubble countries will become popular once the borders reopen, like Singapore, and the Greater Bay Area, like Macau”, said Shalene
Shee of Jebsen Holidays.
Meanwhile, Goldjoy Travel’s COO Carmen Chan thinks that there will be a higher demand to travel once the border between Hong Kong and China opens up and when vaccination gets underway in the the city.
“I know there are also small golfer groups travelling from South Korea to Thailand,
where they take two weeks of quarantine at a Thai golf course”, adding that, “it would be interesting to see if Hong Kong partakes in something like this”.