Trafalgar has launched a new series of tours for the UK market to countries expected to be the first to open-up from the Covid-19 lockdown via air bridges.

The collection includes 15 departures in September and October across eight itineraries, based on a survey of British customers’ preferences.

The tours range in duration from seven to 11 days and the maximum group size will be 26, almost half the number of guests on Trafalgar’s regular tours, to allow for easier social distancing. The trips will feature enhanced hygiene protocols and all tours of more than 20 guests will be accompanied by one of The Travel Corporation’s recently-announced ‘wellbeing directors’ to provide additional support and reassurance to guests.

Webcast: Gavin Tollman

Chief executive Gavin Tollman said the ‘Best of Europe 2020’ collection had been curated quickly to respond to the UK government’s announcement that air corridors will be created between Britain and certain European countries.

Speaking ahead of the official announcement about which countries would be included in the new system, he said: “There’s going to be a traffic light system and there are going to be destinations like France, Spain, Italy and Greece that are on the list.”

Tollman said he was “ready to go with even more” when destinations including Turkey and Portugal also get the green light, hopefully in the coming weeks.

He said: “Too many of us end up sitting on our hands as the government decides what to do. But rules and regulations from different governments are forever changing and that is where we can be transformational.

“I actually see this as an enormous opportunity. There is a desire for people to travel they just have two concerns, ‘will I get sick?’ and ‘will I have fun?’

“We are putting in place all of our protocols to make sure we look after everything while our guests have an incredible time. It’s about pivoting quickly to give our travel agent partners and their customers confidence to book and travel again.”

Tollman added: “From an agent’s perspective, the fact that a British person can travel safe in the knowledge that they will be looked after by experts, should be reassuring. Now when a client comes in, wanting to travel, but with some concerns, the agent has a solution.”

Tollman admitted the travel industry was “on its knees”, but said that TTC had “gone out of our way to ensure agents can book with us with confidence,” including taking the unprecedented step of exposing its assets to demonstrate its financial security, and adding more flexibility over cancellations.

He also said prices would be “honoured” for the new series.

“We have negotiated with our suppliers to make sure the prices are the same, even though there will be only half the number of people on each tour,” he said.

“Guests on our Best of Europe tours will get all that extra value for the identical price,”

UK & Ireland sales and business development director Rachel Coffey said: “There is a lot of pent-up travel demand but we also recognise that in these challenging times, there is understandable concern. We have curated our new ‘Best of Europe 2020’ series to air-bridge destinations exclusively for British travellers. Each trip features the highlights and exclusive experiences of a Trafalgar holiday, whilst giving guests the essential reassurance that their wellbeing is in good hands.

“It can be hard to navigate the differing regulations and approaches in each country, and our message is we have done all that due diligence so that our guests don’t have to. We’ve eliminated the barriers and confusion, allowing guests the total freedom to enjoy their well-awaited holidays. They can also travel in the knowledge that in holidaying with Trafalgar, they are giving back to local communities and supporting a much-needed reboot of the economy.”

Tollman added: “Agents need to understand that the world has fundamentally changed and shifted and it’s not going back to how it was. Right now, we’re defining the next ‘normal’. But the fact is, if you sit and wait for that to happen, it’s going to pass you by. So become part of it.

“We can all moan about the laws that government creates, but the most powerful thing is to adapt and jump in.

“So reach out to every customer and tell them about the opportunity. Nimbleness is critical in all businesses today in order to not only survive but to thrive. I’m checking all the boxes for agents and customers, so be part of the journey.”