Skip to main content

Your Destination Has Been in the News – What Happens Next?

We love running an adventure travel company. Overall, it is thrilling to take people to countries that they normally wouldn’t consider visiting. However, it does bring with it one drawback – sometimes, the destinations that we offer get into the news.

This could be due to a natural disaster or political event. So, how do we approach these things?

1. We Keep a Level Head

Keeping a level head while reading the news is difficult.

It’s even harder when a place that you’re scheduled to visit suddenly appears in the news.

And it’s made even worse when the messages from loved ones start to roll in!

‘Are you still planning on going?’ they’ll say. ‘Is it still safe to visit?’

It’s important to keep a level head for many reasons, but let me call an example to mind.

Before Covid, Australia suffered one of its worst bushfire seasons ever. Many areas were devastated. Images of uncontrollable wildfires, destroyed homes and affected wildlife appeared in media outlets around the globe.

Yet, many other areas were completely fine. And Tourism Australia had to work very hard to make sure that potential visitors to unaffected regions didn’t cancel their trips.

Screenshot from Deutsch Watch

 

Even worse, many tourism operators saw their bookings collapse due to fires that were literally thousands of kilometres away! In other cases, operators near and around the affected areas were appealing to confirmed travellers not to cancel their visits, in their dire time of need.

Bushfires aren’t the only example.

In our case, take the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Some asked us if we were going to cancel trips to Central Asia due to the hostilities.

This would have been a mistake. The war was more than 3,000km from Uzbekistan, and our trip was in no danger of being affected.

We don’t want to be those people that panic and make poor decisions! For that reason, we will always make sure that the local guides, operators and businesses who depend on us, can rely on us to keep an even keel.

We won’t cancel a trip due to geopolitical noise, or even major protests, if we assess that the issue in question won’t have a direct impact on the trip itself. Too many people rely on us. And I should say that we make contracts with the intent to keep them!

Over the years, we’ve learned that the large majority of those who book with us share our attitudes. If there are protests, but the information we have is that the protests are easily avoidable, we’ll go.

We also encourage you to avoid the mainstream media during a time of crisis. The media is often not reliable as a source of information during a major news event, as it simply won’t offer the kind of detail you’d need to make a major decision regarding a trip.

Even worse, major media organisations will often simply choose not to report major events occurring in areas that are off the radar.

In fact, some of the worst protests that have ever occurred (in a destination that we offer) passed by without even one person enquiring about it.

Nukus is a city in Uzbekistan that had major protests over a change to the constitution that had been proposed by the Uzbek president. We braced ourselves for the email barrage of people wondering if the trip was still going to go ahead. Yet, we didn’t receive a single message!

Why? The Aussie and Kiwi media simply decided not to report on it. Rest assured – we’re often aware of things that are occurring well before it makes headline news – thanks, in part, to our local teams on the ground.

2. If time is on our side, we’ll take advantage of it

As I write this post, bushfires have recently had a major impact on Greece (in July 2023 – and also now a yearly occurrence). This is about 8 weeks in advance of our first trip there.

This gave us the time to monitor events and to make a careful judgement.

Then, good news: a few weeks later, it was clear that our trip would be able to operate without any changes.

Simple as that!

I know that sometimes, it feels insane to suggest that things might settle down before a trip will occur. Just cancel the trip, you might think!

But so far, every time we have allowed for time to do its thing, we’ve been rewarded for our patience. If time is on our side, we’ll use it.

If only one part of the trip is affected, we will re-route the itinerary.

But, you might ask – what if the bushfires in Greece had been so bad that we couldn’t run the itinerary, as-is?

Well, this has happened to us before.

On our Silk Road trip in 2022, the Uzbekistan government unexpectedly closed one of their border crossings. This happened about a week before our group was expected to cross. And even worse, our guests were already in Kyrgyzstan – the trip had already started!

In the end, we found a solution, which took a lot of behind-the-scenes work to implement.

On this trip, we helped our group to cross a different border hundreds of kilometres to the north, which meant that our schedule was thrown completely out of whack. The new itinerary was great, though, and our lovely guests had such a wonderful time that we ended up incorporating some of the changes that were forced upon us, into the itinerary for the following year.

Below is a photo of two of them having a great time.

So, be it earthquakes, floods, fires, tsunamis, bombings… wherever possible, we’ll try to set up a new route around the affected area, instead of cancelling the trip.

Irene and Di, two of our lovely guests, in Kyrgyzstan.

 

3. If the trip is not viable, we will cancel.

Running an amazing trip matters.

Safety also matters.

It should be clear from this post that we will always give every trip every chance possible to run. If you’ve booked to go to a place, it’s because you want to go. And we want to honour that.

However, there will always be a time when that is not possible.

We will cancel a trip if it is clear that there is no possibility of running the itinerary largely as promised, and that time is running out for things to get better.

In that case, we’ll contact each guest to offer the best solution possible for you. Each person will want to make their own decision. We had dozens of people wait out the entire Covid period in order to be able to travel with us again. Equally, we had dozens who didn’t.

However, we think we got the balance right, and if you look at our online reputation (see our Facebook Reviews, and our Google Reviews), our Patchies agree.

I Went to Iran. Here Are 9 Things That Took Me By Surprise Previous Article I spent three months travelling around Morocco in a campervan. Here is how it changed my views on Western culture. Next Article