Travel guides lead the way holiday firms report record sales. Fares are soaring. And airports are packed even in the murk of early February. Such are the signs that travel is back to its optimistic and adventurous self.
The crowds at Olympia in London this weekend, venue for the first Destinations Holidays & Travel Show in three years, demonstrate the pent-up demand to make up for journeys lost during the Covid years. The event hosts the Stanfords Travel Writers Festival, and it was especially heartening to see the packed audiences for talks from writers – including one discussion on Friday in which the wonders and welcome of Russia in normal times were set against the tragedy of Putin’s murderous invasion of Ukraine.
Stanfords, as you know, is a venerable institution based in London’s Covent Garden that has been providing maps and travel guides for centuries. Trade collapsed during the coronavirus pandemic: while armchair travel is all very well, when the UK government bans any kind of leisure journey abroad the demand for guidebooks to France, Florida and far-flung territories dries up.
The whole travel industry was devastate by Covid and the clampdown on exploration. But unlike other businesses that were simply waiting for demand to return as the pandemic subsided – the guidebook business has a huge problem with supply.