We can travel again, we could travel again. With travel slowly getting back to its former self in the second half of last year, 2022 was about all the places we could go to without restriction or fear of having to rush home because it had been put on the red list to avoid quarantine.
However, there are still challenges. Continued strike action at airports (either by baggage handlers or Border Force) is a concern but has proved not to severely disrupt travel in any meaningful way. There are of course the usual issues we face with travel – extreme weather causing delays and cancellations, and more recently staff shortages and airspace restrictions, especially over Russia and Ukraine. It’s quite normal to have a level of disruption – who remembers the ‘drone’ which shut Gatwick in the days before Christmas, or a volcano shutting the whole of European airspace? These things happen, but we’re there for you the whole way.
2022 has been a busy year for us, with lots of different trips and events, many of which happened for the first time since the pandemic. Here are a few of our highlights!
The year started early for us in 2022, with the first event the annual TTG Luxury Awards. We were once again shortlisted for ‘Luxury Travel Agency of the Year’, and received ‘highly commended’, after we had a great restart in 2021. (Note, we’re shortlisted for the same award in 2023!).
Another month, and another award event. This time it was the TTG Top 50 – celebrating the best travel agencies in the county. We had to go a little further for this one, it was in Birmingham (and I’m sure many of you heard the story of us getting home, and what time it was!). Again, we came second in our region, but still make the Top 50 list for the first time since the awards were started.
Our travelling year started in April with the Advantage Conference in Madeira. Although it was just for a weekend, we really enjoyed our time on the Portuguese island. At the time, there was a lot of talk about security queues, especially at Gatwick, and it was noticeable, but not terrible.
The conference was at the lovely Savoy Palace, the new upscale hotel right in the centre of Funchal – it has a great rooftop bar and some lovely restaurants around a modern pool area. We even had the chance to go out on an excursion, we chose a jeep safari into the mountains which were magical.
It was also where Ashley had breakfast with Simon Calder (although he was actually locked out of the hotel that early in the morning!), where they talked about the routes into the industry and how you could shake some of the old-fashioned stereotypes of booking with a ‘travel agent’.
With the warm weather upon us, Ashley went to Belfast on a trip to discover the filming locations from the Line of Duty. Compared to what we had seen in the south of England, it was amazing to see how green the countryside was in Northern Ireland! Still, it’s a great and largely undiscovered city break destination to rival others in the UK.
Jackie also went on a Seabourn cruise around the Greek islands, with a short stay in Athens to start (staying at one of our favourite 4* hotels in the city – the Athens Gate).
We launched our ‘The Heat is On’ campaign, on the back of a lack of clarity from the UK government on how high energy bills would be dealt with during the long winter, and whether escaping to somewhere warmer abroad might be a better idea.
Our campaign went viral across Europe, and after initially being picked up by The Independent and iNews in the UK, spread to Euronews in Europe and beyond. We provided TV interviews for TV stations in both Greece and Latvia, along with Reuters who were working with the Greek tourism board to promote winter holidays.
Ashley went to Slovenia with Regent Holidays, on a short break to explore the beautiful country. Although only small, it was interesting to see how diverse it is, with lovely coastal towns to rival Croatia and Italy, stunning mountains for walking and hiking where you could think you were in Austria or Switzerland, and Ljubljana which although it has stunning architecture, has a very young university city feel about it.
The annual Caribtours awards dinner at Claridges is always one of the best nights on the travel calendar. This year was no exception, with an excellent dinner and company with many of our closest travel agent friends. We were delighted to have picked up the ‘Outstanding Achievement’ award, which was born out of our close relationship with Paul and the team at Caribtours through the pandemic, and our willingness to give anything a go.
We were also pleased to have received nominations for both the TTG Luxury awards (due to take place in February), and the TTG Top 50.