Leisure travel's future is bright, and recovery from the coronavirus crisis has begun, says World Travel Holdings CEO Brad Tolkin.
"Mark my words: The headline on Jan. 1, 2023 -- 18 months from now -- will be, 'The best business to have been in in 2022 was the travel business,'" said Tolkin, speaking Wednesday during Dream Vacations' virtual Travel Advisor Learning Summit.
Tolkin said WTH's non-cruise bookings have been up almost 50% compared to 2019 in the past six weeks. And 2019, he noted, was a "phenomenal year."
"Beating these numbers by a significant amount is validating the explosion in business we are seeing and have predicted," Tolkin said.
More than 70% of World Travel Holdings' non-cruise bookings are departing this year, he said. Additionally, consumers are paying more for both cruise and non-cruise bookings.
"I am so excited about tomorrow, and tomorrow is here," he said.
Tolkin said the industry is seeing "the greatest buildup of travel demand that I have ever seen."
We could see supply shortages
He advised agents to book travel now because they could face product shortages in the months ahead. Tolkin also said the true return of cruising will leave agencies scrambling to meet demand.
Over the past year, WTH's travel advisor channel has been doing "significantly better" than its direct-to-consumer businesses, according to Tolkin. It is a trend that appears to be continuing.
"What this is saying, more than ever, is that the consumer wants the advice, the comfort and professionalism that comes with a top-notch travel advisor handling their holiday," he said.