With the positive news from Bhutan in recent days comes another indication there are reasons to be hopeful about the possibilities for long-haul travel in the medium to longer-term.

The tiny mountain kingdom has vaccinated more than half its population in a week, out-performing much richer nations in its roll-out. The news comes as Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal and Bali have taken tentative steps towards re-opening borders to inbound tourism.

However, as Nick Pulley – the founder of award-winning Selective Asia – explains, there remains a need for both a clear and pragmatic approach.

“We’re not realistically expecting to be sending legions of travellers to the beaches of Thailand or the tea hills of Sri Lanka this year. Many of our clients are telling us they understand the need for caution, but they would like to know that – if they can’t travel in 2021 – they can at least look to early 2022 with some confidence,” says Pulley, who also cites examples from countries within the company’s portfolio plotting a cautious path.

“As a team, we’ve found Sri Lanka has been particularly impressive in its preparation. Nepal has opened and Bali hopes to unlock its borders in July 2021. Thailand has also set out its plans for the coming months, although it is now having to deal with a vaccination roll-out programme slower than some of its neighbour,” adds Pulley.

“And, if you take somewhere such as Bali as an example, it lends itself to travel of a more secluded style such as sailing holidays, as do the more remote areas of the countries we feature like trekking in Nepal and the island idylls of the Maldives.”

Selective Asia has also spent much of the past year completely remodelling the business to address the changing world of travel and the needs of what is now understandably a more cautious – even nervous – travelling public, as well as being sympathetic and nimble in responding to the complexities and ever-changing nature of the situation.

Nick Pulley is also quick to acknowledge the travel industry has lessons to heed from last summer but is also keen to point out the sector has learnt a great deal and new booking processes give travellers more flexibility on cancelling and re-scheduling trips than perhaps at any time in recent memory.

“We – along with many of sector colleagues – realise last year was difficult for many who had travel plans cancelled or rescheduled at such a worrying time financially. As a result, we’ve adapted our booking policy in a number of ways including new, low deposits and the option to change dates of travel and destination up to 30 days before departure.

“There is much to be cautiously positive about from the destinations within the Selective Asia portfolio and we will be looking to work with, and promote, those offering clarity and a considered approach to welcoming back travellers.

“Those that don’t, we won’t be pushing for the time being as this has to remain firstly about safety and secondly about rebuilding consumer confidence.”

April 20, 2021

Press enquiries to David Leck at Selective Asia on 07710 326256.