Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 18/6/2010 (4141 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
I remain convinced that the desire to explore the world beyond our borders will never wane. Even as the press clippings begin to fade relating to the protests in Bangkok and Athens, people have already put their planning into full gear for alternate destinations.
QUESTION: As much as I would like to go to Thailand once the government lifts all travel warnings, as I am sure they will, I don't feel I will be ready to book my holiday there for a while yet. What options would you recommend for an interesting and reasonably priced vacation?
ANSWER: Fear makes quick friends when morning-to-night news coverage invades a city or country in order to follow domestic upheaval, especially with the threat of violence.
I would try to go back to Thailand as soon as possible after a strong degree of stability has returned. There are undercurrents of unrest in Thailand that may make the tourist recovery a longer one. The protests may have stopped but the underlying discontent will take longer to address.
So where are people choosing to go instead?
Early reports from tour operators indicate three destinations in particular have been especially strong for new bookings seen as a direct result of travellers seeking alternatives to Thailand.
The first has been Vietnam. It has already seen a consistent growth pattern over the last several years, with returnees offering rave reviews.
Not that long ago, it was selected by other tourist boards and tour operators as the safest destination in the region.
There are a number of tour operators who offer the destination, and the tourist infrastructure has grown by leaps and bounds over the last decade.
The second popular choice is Bali.
For a number of reasons, travellers see it as a meditative place where people can discover a kind of inner peace.
Spa treatments and the like can be had at a most favourable price in many places. It truly is a beautiful place and also has experience in treating tourists very well.
The third, while not so inexpensive, is Japan.
It is not the economic powerhouse it was a few years ago. It too has gone through tough times that started before the recent world downturn.
As a result, outside of Tokyo, reasonably priced accommodation can be found and the country continues to be absolutely fascinating.
QUESTION: Since the airlines always seem to fill seats easily only over the summers, and then do their best with ongoing deals for the rest of the year, how can they ever find their way back to profitability?
ANSWER: You should become an airline executive, because they are wondering the same thing.
For the longest time airlines had a golden goose that brought them consistent profits as the airline charged business class passenger higher and higher fares for the pampering they provided.
Airlines chased after this fountain of money with increasingly greater perks, more luxurious cabins, and services that made them feel as if they were operating from their own offices during their in-flight hours.
With each passing recession, the number of companies willing to pay extra for the comfort of their employees declined.
But because in the past the Premium Class market always returned after each downturn, most airlines concluded all would get back to normal sooner or later after the most recent recessions.
At a recent Aviation Conference in Ontario U.S.-based Forrester Research spokesman Henry Harteveldt spoke about the need for airlines to rethink their philosophy.
He pointed out some European airlines have already eliminated first class on many routes, and that demographics suggest the leisure traveller will hold the key to profits going forward.
There will always be a need for first class, and those who still use the service may demand even more, and be willing to pay for it.
But the numbers may never be the same.
QUESTION: I have become a huge fan of river cruising and was happy to accept the reality of smaller cabins, but now I understand that bigger cabins are now being offered. Is that right?
ANSWER: It soon will be. In its new river vessel, which they named the Panorama, Avalon Waterways will be introducing an all-suite concept.
The minimum suite size will be about one-third larger than the existing cabins, with larger options also available.
The launch of the Panorama is planned for next spring, and in its first year all its journeys will be the 14-night Amsterdam/Budapest itinerary they are marketing under the title "Magnificent Europe."
This introduction is really a testament to how far river cruising has come over the past few year. Over the next few years you can count on more and more innovations as market demand drives creativity and competition.
Forward your travel questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Ron Pradinuk is President of Journeys Travel & Leisure SuperCentre and can be heard Sundays at noon on CJOB. Previous columns and tips can be found on www.journeystravelgear.com or read Ron's travel blog at www.thattravelguy.ca
A writer and a podcaster, Ron's travel column appears in the Winnipeg Free Press every Saturday in the Destinations and Diversions section.