Over the last ten years, Cookson Adventures founder Henry Cookson has helped guests explore remote destinations on board yachts around the world. So, I’m not surprised to hear in my latest “influencer interview” that he’s bullish on where luxury yacht travel may be headed as worldwide travel restrictions begin to lift. But one of the many questions no one can answer is…when will travel restrictions lift?
BS: Obviously the world has changed dramatically in recent months. How has your business been affected?
HC: Like so many others, Cookson Adventures has had to postpone or cancel many of its adventures. Thankfully we still have strong interest in bookings for later in the year, and these tend to be to far-flung destinations onboard private expedition yachts or bespoke camps in remote conservancies. While the current situation has cast some uncertainty, our basic instinct to explore cannot be taken away.
The nature of our adventures—many of which are both ‘world’s first’ and logistically complex—can take up to 12 months and longer to design and plan. In regard to demand for our service, this means we haven’t seen as much of a disruption as others, and we predict that there will be an even bigger demand for adventures to remote destinations when the world bounces back.
In the meantime, we’ve always taken great pride in making the planning process as immersive and enjoyable as possible, so we like to think that we’re still delivering a level of escapism to our clients, even at the planning stages.
BS: What are the positive changes (silver linings) you’ve seen (in your business and your life) as a result of the entire world pausing the way it has?
HC: The industry experienced an outpouring of love as soon as restrictions were put in place. While our style of adventures may differ significantly, we’re all providing a similar desired effect – escapism from everyday life. It is a constant reminder that what we do is valued by so many people around the world. I know my team feels the same. Since we’ve had a moment to stop and look up at the sky, it’s never seemed so blue.
BS: I think people are going to want to travel/charter and buy yachts. etc. more than ever once the restrictions are lifted because we’ve been forced to live without travel/yachts (i.e. the stuff that makes life fun and rewarding) for a while. What do you think?
HC: Inside most of us is a burning instinct to explore, which is why I’m confident the demand for adventure, including the chartering of yachts, will return as soon as reasonably possible.
Many of our client enquiries have been for future yacht expeditions to secluded islands in the South Pacific and the Antarctic Peninsula. This has long been our company’s bread and butter, and I don’t believe this will change post COVID-19, and we predict there will be a growing demand for escapes such as these. It’s a privilege to be able to explore remote, isolated and unpopulated destinations, and not something we should take for granted.
BS: What are the lessons you’ve taken from this whole experience?
HC: There needs to be more long-term support put in place to support the wider global travel industry. I’m talking about the Kenyan farmer-cum-ranger who relies on visitor donations to care for rehabilitated rhinos; the family-run lodge in rural Myanmar, and the spear-fishers along Madagascar’s coast. The ripple effect of this crisis will run further than we can imagine, and we need to prevent this in the future. This is something I will be working on once the everyday running of Cookson Adventures has returned to normal.