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Families may not be able to travel to certain destinations for awhile, but resorts, tour operators and tourism boards are still finding ways to connect with them during the COVID-19 pandemic.
From virtual tour experiences and family-friendly recipes to activities designed to keep kids busy while at home, here’s how suppliers have been keeping families dreaming of travel.
AndBeyondKids can wake up on Saturday mornings to a series of interactive programs with AndBeyond Connect. The activities aim to teach children about conservation in an entertaining way: Kids can ask questions about the local culture and wildlife while interacting with children from all over the world. Clients can also book a private chat for families of up to six people (with most of the $200 price tag going toward conservation efforts) with a ranger who will answer questions about everything would-be safarigoers want to know, including animals, the bush, conservation efforts and life as a safari guide.
Dromoland CastleDromoland Castle, a 16th-century castle in the Irish countryside of County Clare, is offering travelers the chance to build a virtual castle of their own until they can visit the destination once again. Arts and crafts activities are led by the castle’s own Una Heaton, a former museum curator and watercolor artist. One video shows clients how to make a castle from materials found around the house, while another video teaches kids how to create a crown for a king or queen.
G AdventuresG Adventures launched a series of virtual walking tours hosted by one of its Chief Experience Officers, and the tours are run similarly to the company’s actual tours. Past videos of destinations can still be accessed, including Peru’s famous Inca Trail; Antarctica; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Cape Town, South Africa; and the Galapagos Islands.
Ben Perlo, managing director for G Adventures in the U.S., says that creating opportunities for families to explore the world has always been a priority for the tour company.
“Now, more than ever, we want to keep families dreaming of travel and thirsty to learn about places and cultures that are different from their own,” Perlo said. “So, while families can’t use their passports right now, we’ve created ways to help keep kids’ — and parents’ — wanderlust alive.”
Tourism AustraliaIn light of the current travel restrictions, Tourism Australia has released a host of activities for families to do together until they can visit.
Pip Harrison, managing director of Tourism Australia, says it’s crucial to keep travelers interested in the destination at this time.
“It’s important that we don’t go quiet,” Harrison said. “While people can’t travel right now, they can certainly dream and plan for those unforgettable family holidays to come. The brands that continue to engage with their audiences in a crisis are the ones that tend to recover the fastest.”
With “Live From Aus,” clients can view programming, such as live entertainment by experts in a range of subjects — from koalas and kangaroos to mountain biking, music, food and more. The videos can be accessed on Australia’s YouTube channel, and virtual tours of top sights can be found on Tourism Australia’s website.
VisitBritainVisitBritain is bringing British culture to U.S. audiences through its social media channel @lovegreatbritain. There, families will find that the tourism office is sharing some of the best of Britain through virtual tours of famous museums, coloring pages of popular spots and recipes for English dishes, such as hot cross buns.
“By engaging them through our online channels, we will inspire visitors to experience our culture in person soon,” said Gavin Landry, director and executive vice president of the Americas for VisitBritain. “We want to reassure travelers and advisors that our planning toward the future recovery continues, and that we will be working with the international travel trade so that U.S. buyers are ready to sell Britain again.”
VOMO Island FijiVomo Island Fiji, a luxury all-inclusive resort island, is offering access to its Kids Village Video Channel, where families can participate in cultural activities virtually.
Karen Marvell, director of sales and marketing for Vomo Island Fiji, says it is important to share the culture of Fiji with kids.
“The Fijian people are natural hosts and love to interact with guests,” Marvell said. “They are especially proud of their ancient culture, where traditions are still practiced in their villages and homes today. Vomo’s staff decided they wanted to interact with children all over the world and show them they were thinking of them, even if the children can’t physically be at Vomo.”