Touring specialist Tauck has heralded the resilience of UK agents in the face of the Covid pandemic as it operated its first tours since last March.

The US-based operator ran a winter trip in the Yellowstone national park and has additional departures scheduled for this month in Montana and Wyoming.

The resumption of Yellowstone tours followed lengthy preparation and the company is looking forward to restarting operations ‘in earnest” in the coming months.

Comprehensive health and safety protocols have been instituted across all 2021 tours and cruises, including the mandatory use of face masks, social distancing and a requirement that travellers are tested negative for the virus within five days of departure.

Chief executive Dan Mahar declined to speculate on when the company would fully resume operations but revealed that 60% of 2021 capacity is already booked “and we continue to look ahead with great optimism as reservations are coming in for 2022 and even 2023”.

He said: “As a 96-year-old company, we’ve endured many, many challenges before and without exception every downturn or disruption has fuelled huge pent-up demand.

“We know our guests can’t wait to travel with us and we’ll be ready to hot them when the time is right.”

Steve Spivak, vice president, global sales and partner relations, added: “We’ve been so heartened by the resilience of our loyal UK guests and advisor partners.

“Despite the challenges of the last year, the spirit of adventure and desire to see the world with Tauck remains strong among our supporters.

“Incredibly, our 2021 reservations have surpassed where we were for 2020, and that was on tap to be our best year ever.

“We know the world will open up again soon, and when the time is right, we’ll be ready to welcome our great guests from the UK.”