Travel advisors’ clients are asking about how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine might affect their travel plans elsewhere in Europe. For the the most part, clients are forging ahead with planned trips, but there have been cancellations.
John Rose, Altour’s chief risk and security officer, said thus far the invasion’s impact “is fairly minimal.” Flight restrictions and sanctions have affected travel to Russia and the Ukraine, and cruises in the region have been impacted with lines changing itineraries to avoid Russian ports.
While advisors are getting general questions about the situation, and those with travel to countries in Eastern Europe are concerned, “we have not seen significant impact when it comes to people canceling their trips,” said Peter Vlitas, executive vice president of partner relations at Internova Travel Group.
“With the massive global support Ukraine is receiving and the sanctions put upon Russia, this will hopefully be a contained event, and unless it takes a turn and drags on to become a continued insurgency with massive refugees, travel should not see a major impact,” Vlitas said.
Azure Blue Vacations owner Suzy Schreiner is concerned about Danube river cruises. She is preparing for potential cancellations. If they come to fruition, Schreiner said, she would likely steer clients to river cruises on the Rhine or another itinerary.
“The trick will be if the cruise lines offer the replacement for the same price,” she said. “Otherwise, with availability so low, the pricing is much higher.”
Schreiner is hearing from clients. In many cases, they are unaware of the distance between countries in Europe.
For instance, she is currently in Croatia. She has received several emails asking about her well-being considering the war, even though she is 800 miles away from Kyiv.
“I do think that for those who were considering Europe, they will wait to book to see how things play out,” Schreiner said. “My clients are smart and there is more to that decision than just the physical war. They will be concerned about economic ramifications, and how that may affect neighboring countries.”
Independent contractors affiliated with host agency Montecito Village Travel in Santa Barbara, Calif., reported a mix of reactions from clients, said Connie Miller, vice president of business development.
Several reported cancellations and several noted clients are skittish about travel. But still others said clients remain committed to travel.
Restrictions and sanctions present a challenge
One Montecito affiliate, Mishelle Ying, has helped friends of clients leave Ukraine and Russia.
Ying, the owner of Bi-CoastalTravel in Los Angeles, said clients are still interested in traveling to Europe. On Monday, she said she booked several for the summer and the fall. But the travel she planned for friends of clients was decidedly different.
Several weeks ago, when airlines were starting to cancel Ukraine flights, she managed to get a client’s friend out of the country.
And on Monday, she helped another friend of a client who is currently in Moscow. Tomorrow, that friend will fly to Cairo, spend the night there, then head back to the U.S. from Egypt.
With flights being canceled in the region, both bookings were a challenge, Ying said, but she was happy to assist.