Industry Update
External Article 3 September 2020

Group Travel Companies Are Still a Thing. How?

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After several trips with boutique tour company Mango Africa Safaris, including a custom tour to Madagascar last year, Irene Bowers and David Register were intrigued by an email newsletter inviting them on a group travel experience closer to home. The pandemic had scuttled other, farther-flung plans by the retired Oregon couple, so they decided to get in the car and drive to Montana for a "safari"

On their trip, in August, they were rewarded with views of grizzlies, black and gray wolves, and ravens feasting on a bison carcass. Plus, there was a rafting excursion on the river—which they shared with nine strangers and a handful of guides.

These are tough times for group tour operators who cater to a U.S. audience. American travelers are weary of close contact with others, and the world is weary of them.

Some operators have shut down operations, at least into the fall. Those still seeking business have experienced year-on-year losses from 40% to 90%, according to a survey of 590 multiday and day-tour operators by Companies are making up the difference through domestic trips, especially to U.S. national parks. For Mango co-owner Teresa Sullivan, that very strategy has shaved the year'

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