A big year...
As we enter the third month of 2020, it's hard to believe how much has happened this year already… and so much of it things that might negatively impact your desire to travel.
We began with Australian bushfires and increased tensions between Iran and America; since then we've had Brexit in Britain, sandstorms in Europe, earthquakes in Turkey, floods in Brazil and, of course, the ongoing worry surrounding Coronavirus.
Add to that a stunning New Zealand summer and it's enough to make you never want to leave the country again.
But before you rip up your passport, wait… there are still so many reasons to travel, and so many places in the world to see. This issue, we want to reignite your passion for travel, and remind you there's a big world out there, waiting to be discovered.
There's a long list of places I want to go this year, but top of it would have to be Hawaii. I haven't been since a week-long trip to Oahu in 2009 when I interviewed the cast of Lost as the show went into its final season. And though hanging out in a meeting room with Evangeline Lilly, Josh Holloway and Daniel Dae Kim was great, the schedule meant I didn't get to explore much beyond the beaches of Waikiki.
This year, I want to go back and venture further afield. The islands of Maui and Kauai particularly appeal for hiking, snorkelling and surfing lessons, and super-fresh seafood.
I'm not the only one still planning to get away this year - I've rounded up some industry experts for their insights into why we should still be planning to travel, and where we should be going.
Let's keep that wanderlust alive.
Book ahead for winter escapes
The one thing we know about ourselves as New Zealanders is that our geographic isolation has always driven a strong desire to travel.
Though we have experienced a fabulous hot dry summer over most of the country, now is the time to be planning and booking your winter holiday escapes. The cool rainy weather will be with us before we know it.
With many cruise lines repositioning their ships into the southern hemisphere for the next few months, there are fabulous close-to-home cruise deals on offer, which will provide a relaxing holiday, perfect for couples and families.
The Pacific Islands, Queensland and Bali remain very popular, however you need to get in and book these destinations now for the New Zealand winter months. The best deals always sell out early.
- David Libeau, General Manager - Marketing, helloworld travel
The love of adventure...
I was 19 when I first left New Zealand to travel by myself. Three months on the other side of the world with a backpack and a handful of travellers' cheques (it was a long time ago). In those 90 days I explored, I got lost, I made friends with strangers, I was pickpocketed, I ate everything, I ran out of money and spent my last few days at Heathrow, waiting for an empty seat that could take me home. It was the most brilliant time of my life so far.
For me, great travel has never been comfortable. But with each trip I take, my love of the adventure grows, as does my love for home. You just don't get that sort of experience by staying put.
Niue is on the up
After more than 40 years working in the travel industry both here and abroad, I still love travelling. Sure, various events may change where and when I go, but in general it has never stopped me travelling. It's just a case of adjusting your travel antenna to mitigate risk.
Take the Pacific Island of Niue, a state in free association with New Zealand, and only serviced by Air New Zealand flights twice-weekly, direct from Auckland. The only way a virus is getting in is from Auckland.
The Pacific Islands have mostly taken a proactive, tough, and so far successful approach, to block the spread of Coronavirus to their shores. We are seeing significant increases in bookings this year as Kiwis take a more conservative view with their travel plans, deferring longer haul travel to the close-to-home Pacific Island destinations.
- Rick Felderhof, Managing Director, Our Pacific
Off the beaten track...
I love being humbled by new destinations and experiences. This year, I'm enjoying the focus on more eco-friendly travel, and the chance to really get back to nature in its most pure and untouched glory. It's getting back to the joy of travel at its core - exploring a new place, unfiltered, without distraction.
As a scuba diver, I find the underwater world a great place to check my privilege. Every dive is a humbling experience, as I enter into a world that is not my own, and it always inspires me to do a better job of protecting the planet. So, based on my passion for the underwater world and seeing nature in all its grandeur, my top two destinations for 2020 are Papua New Guinea and Oman, where marine life thrives.
Challenging times, interesting alternatives
As a business, we take a leading role in steering the industry to support countries through challenging times. Like New Zealand, economies in Asia are dependent on tourism dollars, so when people stop travelling, it can be a huge problem. We need to consider the knock-on effect on restaurants, hotels and other roles for millions of people employed in the wider industry.
New Zealanders are intrepid travellers by nature, and are some of the most adventurous in the world. They don't scare easily and are always the first to return to a destination.
We're encouraging people to consider the alternatives, not stopping their travels altogether. Destinations including Turkey, Jordan and Morocco are still seeing an increase in traveller numbers with plenty of advantages to travelling now. Not only are there fantastic deals out there, you can also avoid the queues and crowds in some of the world's most visited places.
- James Thornton, CEO, Intrepid Travel
Travel is for the many
It's hard to travel today without putting a foot wrong. If you aren't being guilt-tripped by teenage climate activists, you're being reminded how your dream destination is becoming crowded, unethical or potentially dangerous.
Why is this problem only dawning now? Because, not long ago, travel was a luxury. Even more of a luxury.
Fifty years ago, we saw 1 million passengers in Kiwi airspace. Now it's 17 million – or roughly four times the population.
There are more of us, travelling further for less than ever before. Travel is now for the many, no longer just the few. Enjoy it.
With our friends across the Ditch just beginning to recover from the devastating fires, it's more important than ever to get over there and support them by enjoying all they have to offer. Buy local wherever you travel to ensure your dollar is going directly back into the community - local Australian businesses are in need of support at this time.
In regards to Coronavirus, there are hundreds of safe and unaffected areas, so there is no reason to put a halt on your travel plans. Our top picks for the next few months:
• The Southern States; Louisiana, Texas and Tennessee for an American adventure
• The Pacific Islands for an extended summer
• New South Wales, Australia for a weekend getaway
• Bali, Indonesia for affordable paradise
- Victoria Courtney, General Manager Product, Flight Centre NZ
The enemy of ignorance
One thing I love about travel is the sense of connection to new people and places, and perspective on everything that we should be grateful about in our own lives. I think travel is the enemy of ignorance and if you can get away from your own space and place, even for a short time – you should. We all have preconceived ideas about the world; until you travel and return back to your own life, you become more grateful for what you do have.
A study that Trafalgar did last year revealed that 93 per cent of people say travel gives them the distance they need from their day-to-day life to gain a sense of what's important. But, I'd advise anybody to consider which companies they choose to travel with, as some are more inclined to make travel matter for the planet, wildlife and people in communities they visit, and others not so much.
In times of uncertainty like we have experienced in so many ways already in 2020, it's vital that we keep travelling and support the communities whose prosperity and livelihood is dependent on tourism.
- Scott Cleaver, Managing Director, The Travel Corporation
Snap up a deal
While Coronavirus has meant a lot of immediate travel plans have been affected, there are still lots of future bookings coming through - Kiwis are still wanting to travel and explore the world. The current travel situation means lots of deals have become available and they are being snapped up quickly as New Zealanders satisfy their wanderlust.
The Pacific Islands are always a great destination for a mid-year holiday to escape the winter blues. Some destinations are only a couple of hours away, but a whole different world.
- Brent Thomas, Commercial Planning Director, House of Travel