Yes, business is business and so much in the travel industry revolves around revenue streams. Let's face it, money makes the world go round. But there are moments, often in times of crisis, when tour operators impress with their loyalty to the destinations they serve even as those destinations face challenges
The most recent example was in the aftermath of last month's terror attacks in Paris, which still threatens to undermine the tourism industry of one of the world's most popular tourism destinations. And yet, even as bookings slowed in the wake of the attacks, tour operators remained determined to not make any drastic decisions about quitting a once lucrative destination.
"Travel and tourism is an economic engine," Paula Twidale, executive vice president of Collette and chairman of the U.S. Tour Operators Association said at the organization's year-end annual conference. "Unless there's a good reason to pull back, we can't succumb to fear. We need to continue to travel."
Granted, tour operators have some contractual obligations to consider as well, in addition to the fact that they don't want to lose the bookings that they already have in the pipeline for France and Europe. So there's more to their support than just a certain je ne sais quoi for the countries they bring passengers to.
But in destinations that have seen even more strife, tour operators have exhibited a level of commitment that makes you think that in certain cases it has to be about more than just money. One such example is Egypt. I often wonder why certain tour operators have stuck with Egypt this long, given the seemingly unending ups and downs the destination has experienced over the last four and a half years.
Abercrombie & Kent, for instance, kept its Egypt office open and a percentage of its employees in Egypt on the payroll through incredibly difficult times in the country's tourism industry.
Of course, it's not all roses either. In tough times, there are often painful job and revenue losses in destinations that are not pulling in the kinds of passenger counts they once did. It's inevitable. And there's only so much a tour operator can lose on a destination before it starts to cut capacity or pull out entirely as many tour operators have, in fact, done in Egypt.
But during trying times in the travel industry, it's nice to be reminded that there are those battle-hardened companies, companies that also have solid financials to back the investments, that aren't going to just cut and run when the going gets tough. It sends a strong message to their clients about the greater importance of the travel industry, not just as a financial revenue generator but as an engine of support on a level that goes far beyond just bookings.