We all have a better idea of the “ground rules” this age of coronavirus. Self isolate. If you fish, do it alone, or at least at great distances from others. Stay tuned in for updates from officials that determine what is safe and what is not—everything is changing. What hasn’t changed is that anglers should not travel far to fish. The travel sector of the fly-fishing industry was the first to feel it, and it will be the last to pull out of it. Angling Trade contributing editor Greg Vincent, who has spent a professional career in fly-fishing travel, offers the following advice to help ensure some of these businesses will still be there on the other side of the pandemic. Retailers and manufacturers are encouraged to share this with their traveling customers…
Hoping to Ensure a Future for Fly Fishing Travel in the Era of Coronavirus
By Greg Vincent
We as an industry have now entered uncharted waters and first to hit the deck, and hit it hard, is the fly-fishing travel industry. Anything that relates to getting on a plane at the moment has seen an instant severing of its major artery. As I write this there is blood spewing everywhere and if we are to survive we all need to know what is the best, most immediate course of action..
So firstly, we all need to accept that an instant blanket policy to fix it is just not available to anyone. That includes the people at destinations and the paying customers who have paid to be at said destination. It is neither of those two entities fault we are where we are so ensure your actions are not so as to be interpreted as fault. Both are going to have challenges so what is best for all is that we find a way that minimizes the impact and we make this more about inconvenience rather than loss of $$$$$.
We can work this out but if one side believes they are heading for a vastly disproportionate loss than the other then that is when problems will begin. Nobody wants that and nobody will come out on top if the gloves come off.
So ?, Can we summarize what needs to happen in one sentence ? Yes we can. It’s really quite simple… Reschedule not Refund. That is it! If every angler that has committed to a trip adopts this as their principal strategy to deal with this crisis then everything will work out for all involved. If all anglers that have booked and confirmed a trip with an outfitter, lodge, guide can agree that the trip will be rolled over to another date then all will be well. Just agree in principal and trust those that you are dealing with. That trust will safeguard your own investment and will provide much needed relief for those at the relevant destinations. Remember, the stronger the outfit emerges from this the more options there will be for those that are owed a trip. So less is more right now.
Lets all work together to first create a stable environment in order to get to a location that enables the next and final securing stage to take place. There are hundreds of fishing programs and thousands of hard working lodge workers, owners, outfitters and guides and staff who have immediately lost an entire season of income. Business will struggle for sure but the more coordinated and flexible we all are the less impact this crisis will have on everyone. Of course for those that have booked a trip this is an out of pocket expense that has been paid already and for those that were waiting to host you in their relevant capacities, this is their livelihood income.
These destinations are run by the people who welcome you into their world and do their level best to promote a sense of brotherhood in an ever polarizing world. Destination fly fishing puts some of the most diverse groups of people under the same roof, whether at a dinner table on a floating lodge in Cuba or a mountain lodge in Patagonia or a shoreline Lodge in the Bahamas or stringing up rods in a parking lot outside an outfitters shop in Montana. These are all unique places where strangers eyes meet, not with indifference or distrust but rather with a common understanding and goal. The restrictive social measures of society are cast aside and each of us become single minded, open and generous in both deed, thought and consideration. These people who wait for you every year enrich your lives, even if only for a few days. Their efforts generate memories and stories that are told within your own homes and shared with your families. Don’t think of this as your $$$ deposit, think of it as that guide who last year almost had you double hauling 70 feet. He or she only needs another day or two with you to have you making the move to saltwater as you have hoped. You need that guide to be there when the time again presents itself and to have him or her guide you back on that same path you were on and maybe one you will soon forget if not reminded of. The chef that makes you that special desert that you cannot seem to replicate anywhere but there in the mountains of Patagonia. That float between Rocky mountain peaks that takes your breath away each and every time you are there. The wines, the whiskey and the stories, the laughs. These are the things your deposit and payment are holding for you so let it ride. Double down if anything. You do that and your gesture will reap the rewards when the time comes to once again return because it will be through your actions or in this case lack of action that will enable those very people to be there waiting for you once again.
You can even go one step further if at all possible. Please be open to rebooking at dates that are helpful for the destination if you have the flexibility to do so. What does that mean for the outfitter or Lodge or guide? Well, what it means is that 2020 season has zero income for them ( which we already know has happened ) but then if 2021 is only the 2020 re-bookings it makes it a zero profit season turning this into a 2 year disaster rather than just one. So if possible utilize shoulder periods where fishing is still great but maybe not a popular time to travel. If there is a way for destinations to be able to incorporate new seasonal bookings alongside rescheduled bookings it will allow for some much needed financial relief in 2021 also. 2020 is of course already a right off. Communicate with your destination or with your travel agent. If you can help in spreading the rescheduling then let all involved know you are willing. It will be a huge help. Good luck to all in these trying times. Above all else.. be safe.