Derek Jones, chief executive of Kuoni parent Der Touristik UK, explains the rationale behind the operator’s freely-available travel advice hub
Creating a bespoke long-haul travel itinerary has never been the easiest of tasks. Even the most enthusiastic travel DIYer will confess that the vagaries of airline ticket restrictions, coordinated connections, minimum transfer times, visa requirements, passport validity and compulsory vaccinations are often enough to result in extended, often fruitless, late-night shifts in front of the laptop screen.
High quality independent travel agents, knowledgeable and experienced homeworkers, and specialist tailor-made tour operators have all thrived on this complexity, taking over the burden of responsibly that comes with the territory and leaving the traveller to focus solely on the joy of travel.
As if this weren’t complicated enough, it’s safe to assume that travel planning in a post-Covid world will be even more mind-bogglingly difficult. To the above list we can add: quarantine requirements (on arrival and on return); testing requirements (pre-departure and pre-arrival home); testing to reduce quarantine; UK Foreign Office advice including ‘safe corridor’ countries; individual destination policies for arrivals; Covid vaccination certification; compulsory isolation facilities and, of course, in-resort safety protocols. Not to mention the distinction between Lamp tests, lateral flow tests and PCRs!
It’s no wonder that many are crying out for a single source of information to navigate a way through this minefield – not just the travelling public, but seasoned travel professionals too.
As the UK lurched into Lockdown 2.0 in autumn last year and the government began to talk in earnest about a coordinated testing regime for travellers, the team at Kuoni realised that the future of travel was about to become much more complicated.
We forecast that one of the key facilitators of recovery would be a single source of information covering every one of the requirements introduced as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The subsequent introduction of mandatory pre-arrival testing simply added weight to our conclusion.
Following a series of brainstorming sessions late last year we began to build the Covid Travel Advice Hub, designing a bespoke web app from scratch. We set out to design a tool to allow customers and travel professionals to easily check the current status of 50 of the most popular holiday destinations.
The site, which is launched today (Wednesday) is fully optimised for use on mobile and the great news is, it’s free to use for anyone who wants to quickly check the latest travel advice for a destination or, as the world begins to open up, to search for destinations that are welcoming visitors once again – places that are available to visit immediately.
We believe that this resource should be freely available for everyone to use. We want it to be shared as widely as possible. We want to encourage as many people as possible to use this data to open up the opportunity to travel as quickly and as seamlessly as possible.
The travel industry has suffered together and we should recover together. We hope that the Kuoni Covid Travel Advice Hub will accelerate that recovery for everyone.