More tour guides returning to work, travel companies optimistic about outlook in 2022

SINGAPORE – A trip to the Arctic last December marked the end of a two-year hiatus caused by the Covid-19 pandemic for tour guide Rabil Lian, who led a group of around 20 tourists to see northern Lights.

Since then Mr Lian has led at least three other groups in parts of Europe – a sign that the worst may be over for the travel industry.

The 51-year-old returned to work as a tour guide after two years as a safe-distancing ambassador and travel content creator, putting together videos for audiences who also longed to venture abroad.

Mr Lian, who has worked as a guide for travel agency Chan Brothers Travel for 10 years, recently told the Straits Times: “Things are looking up. With more VTL (vaccinated lanes) destinations and rates of vaccinations higher in most places, I think people feel more confident to travel now.”

The first VTLs – quarantine-free destinations between two countries – were launched here in September to Germany and Brunei. Since then, they have been extended to 30 countries and regions.

Chan Brothers Travel received 30 times more bookings compared to the same period a year ago, said marketing communications manager Jeremiah Wong.

About 35% of the agency’s roughly 100 staff are back to lead tours, and more guides are expected to return, Wong said.

“With most Covid-19 related restrictions removed in European countries…and new borders reopening around the world, we expect consumer sentiment towards leisure travel to continues to increase over the coming year,” he said.

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