“Don’t Forget Us” - Open Letter to our Clients
Dear 206 Tours Family of Pilgrims,
I pray that you and your family are doing well, I pray that the world is waking up to a new reality of how little control we really have, and what really matters.
206 Tours is staying strong, our employees continue to work hard communicating with our clients and tallying thousands of postponements, rebookings, refunds and cancellations.
All 206 Tours pilgrimages have been postponed until September 2020. Needless to say, the present does not look good, and the reservations for future pilgrimages are drastically down, as much as 90%! The conclusion is that even when pilgrimages do resume, groups will be smaller and fewer. As slow is it might get, this fall or in 2021, many new costly measures will need to be implemented. I'm putting all my confidence in 2022!
Like the rest of the world, I worry and pray for my family - my family at home and my family at work. I pray that they stay healthy spiritually, physically and emotionally. The livelihood and business effects of this crazy war will be sorted out in time to come. Let us now focus on that which we have learned on our pilgrimages to be always encompassed by His love and to pass that love on to others, especially the sick and lonely. The devastation that coronavirus has rained on 206 Tours’ world and on travel industry is impossible to quantify. Travel is hit the hardest, and within the travel, international tour operators, like us, will probably suffer more. Airlines, cruise ships, and hotels will get huge bailouts.
Airlines will continue to have the cargo to transport, domestic travel will resume quickly, and soon hotels will be occupied. My sincere promise to all 206 Tours clients is that our mission is beyond this war or this world! My promise is that 206 Tours is a financially solid company, whose suppliers are 100% paid, no credits, we own our building, and have conservative principals of saving money when times were good. While this is bigger than anything else that I could have ever anticipated, I am still certain that our confidence and experience, in successfully overcoming bumps and uncertainties in the past, are serving us well now.
I'm comforted beyond all measures to witness the loyalty and kindness of 206 Tours family of clients and Priests. The kindest emails offering understanding, support and prayers will never be forgotten! When I asked (with a Facebook post) for support to our tour guides who will be without pay for many months to come - you were there! When I asked you to postpone your pilgrimages - you were there too! To give you an example, when we first got the news that the Oberammergau Passion Play was postponed from 2020 to year 2022, we reached out to all our group leaders and priests, and were shocked that almost all confidently said, "No problem, I can wait 2 years!" or " I'm in for 2022!" - So, 206 Tours rebooked 100% of our Oberammergau allotments for 2022.
I hear people in travel industry compare coronavirus to 9/11. No, the destruction from the coronavirus pandemic is much greater and longer, than the effects the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks had on travel. I remember that in 2001, we had brave groups of pilgrims traveling to Europe within weeks of the terrorist attack. I was one of them - in the end of September 2001, my husband Charlie and I went to Assisi to be there on October 4th to pray for Peace. You see, after 9/11, fixes that needed to be made were easy: hardened cockpit doors, TSA and airport screening, vetting passengers. What about now? Will gloves, masks, 6 feet distance, health cards, temperature, vaccine, antibodies - be enough? I’m not sure what will be “enough”, but I do not know that I will continue to follow my simple rule: Is it safe enough to send my children and grandchildren? If the answer is - yes, then it is also safe for my clients.
Let us continue to pray for one another, for all medical professional and essential workers, and for all who are affected by this horrible virus, as we discern and forgive those who have found it necessary to close our churches, but to keep abortion clinics open.
Write to us! Send us your favorite pilgrimage photo, we will post them. If you have any ideas that you would like to share, please write to us (firstname.lastname@example.org or email me directly Milanka@206tours.com), it will break the monotony, and will brighten our day, especially while we are in the midst of all the postponements and cancellations. Also, we are running out of photos for our pilgrims bag contest (on Facebook www.206tours.com/pilgrimsbag) if you find any in your old albums do send them to us.
The calling and the desire to travel on a pilgrimage is ingrained within most of us, and just like after 9/11 - it will be the faith based traveler who will be the first to return. Why? Because "pilgrims" fear less, pray for discernment more, trust, and know Who is in control!
Please do not forget us.
President and Founder