On the face of it, Friday 21st August seemed like just another normal day. However, when Janet and David Bruce walked through the arrivals hall at Glasgow Airport, they were the first Newmarket Holidays guests to join a tour since the lockdown began in March.
Nine other excited guests joined Mr and Mrs Bruce on our Scottish Highland Railways tour, a perennial favourite and fitting choice for our first tour back. Our very own Product Director, Andy Jones, was on hand to make sure everything ran smoothly.
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Behind the scenes
We’ve been working hard behind the scenes to get our tours back up and running in safe manner, ensuring that the individual components of each tour, such as the hotels, attractions and transport, are all operating in a safe and COVID-friendly way.
We’ve given all suppliers an extensive COVID health and safety audit in accordance with the latest regulations. All customers were sent tour-specific documents before they traveled, which included information on their destination and the safety protocols in place during the tour.
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After a refresher of the new protocols, the guests boarded the coach (with socially-distanced seating, of course) for the journey to the Carrbridge Hotel, where staff explained the new housekeeping procedures.
Over the next four days, guests enjoyed a relaxing break in Scotland. The tour included rides on some of the Scotland’s most iconic railways, including the West Highland Line, which crosses the spectacular 21-arched Glenfinnan Viaduct, together with a cruise on fabled Loch Ness.
Andy said: “Everyone was really pleased and excited to get out and about after lockdown, and the tour was a big success. There was a great camaraderie among the group, and a genuine excitement to experience the tour they had been looking forward to.”
“The guests were really interested to see how we had planned the tour against the COVID backdrop and were very impressed with how each different component of the tour had been adapted to meet new safety standards.”
FIND OUT MORE: Scottish Highland Railways tour
So, what next?
Consumer confidence to travel remains cautiously optimistic at the moment. However, this example highlights that with the right preparations, there are plenty of reasons to be positive, not just for Newmarket Holidays, but for the entire travel industry.
“As a tour operator we are pleased to have demonstrated that many tours, with the right planning and vigilance, can operate with complete confidence. We are fully aware of our responsibility to our customers to make that happen – but also to ensure for the wider industry that this is achieved successfully so that we can be a part of rebuilding consumer confidence, that is a really important consideration as we work together to get our industry back on its feet again.”
After the success of the first tour back, two more tours departed in August, followed by almost 100 more scheduled September and October!
Andy concluded: “Whilst it was certainly a very different touring experience, the most important thing was that it was safe, and the safety measures didn’t impact the guests’ enjoyment. In fact, one guest has already booked another two more tours with Newmarket during the coming months!”
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