Oregon Travel Agency: “The Golden Age of Travel Is Coming”
PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A local travel company is working to boost tourism in Oregon and help its travelers discover adventures around the world, even as they face the challenges that the pandemic has imposed on world travel.
modern adventure CEO Luis Vargas said he expects a big comeback to the industry on the road, despite the immediate challenge of the COVID-19 Variant Delta outbreak.
For that reason, he recommended people start dreaming now for their next adventure, even if that means booking it for 2023.
“Having something to look forward to, I think, is such an important thing,” Vargas said. “Because basically all of the trips that we’re planning for 2020 are now pushed back to 21. Like, you know, it’s not going to be trivial to get space, if you will, in some of the premier destinations in the world.
Portland-based Modern Adventure partners with brands and individuals, such as chefs and artists, to create package tours for travelers.
“We look through the lens of this brand to bring a place to life. And then we do it here in our backyard here in Oregon and around the world,” Vargas said.
Vargas said the COVID-19 pandemic has posed a significant challenge to the company. Although it started off on a good footing before the pandemic began, they only recently completed their first travel experience package since the global outbreak began.
“We were able to get great support from the investment community and frankly I think we had a great start and then the pandemic took all the oxygen out of the room,” Vargas said. “But we are more optimistic than ever about the return of travel. We have already seen bookings come back significantly since the end of the year.
In mid-July, that magical window after Oregon largely reopened from COVID restrictions, but before the Delta Variant outbreak swept across the country, Modern Adventure partnered with the Willamette Valley Adelsheim winery for a travel experience for locals and visitors. .
“It was truly a celebration of Oregon. Adelsheim recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. And that’s really how wine country as we know it really began,” Vargas said.
The trip included two nights in McMinnville for intimate tastings in the heart of the Willamette Valley, including the Adelsheim winery and family home, as well as tastings at other wineries in the valley, such as Soter and Fine Feres.
There was also a two-night portion of the trip dedicated to the Oregon Coast, complete with crab and a meal prepared by the Stephanie Inn’s chef.
“I think people from all over the country come here to our backyard, frankly, I think they’re completely blown away, both in terms of the story and the telling of this pioneering spirit collaboration, the quality wines, you really know in all areas,” Vargas said.
Modern Adventure is a certified B-Corp, which means it is a company that chooses to adhere to certain social and environmental ethical standards. For example, the company is certified climate neutral and is a member of the Adventure Travel Conservation Fund.
Vargas said travelers taking a conscientious approach to exploring the world, with respect to social and environmental impacts, are part of a larger societal trend that he sees as a shift “from the age of things to the ‘age of experiences’.
“And frankly, we think there’s, you know, a golden age of travel coming, both in terms of demand, the pent-up demand of people who are so excited to get out there and see the world again. And then also just this evolved awareness around the type of experiences that are really going to give you this direct deposit that you are going to pursue with a renewed sense of this responsibility around how we travel.
Vargas co-founded Modern Adventure with whom he described as world-class talent, including Joanne Vargas, his wife of 21 years and who has a storied career at the Walt Disney Company and others. Scott McNeely, former Lonely Planet digital editor, was also a co-founder of the company. All three, collectively, have nearly 100 years of experience in the travel industry, Vargas said.
As a testament to the life-changing power travel can sometimes have, Vargas said he met his wife while at a campsite in southern Mexico, Palenque.
“We started guiding together and she had done other guiding stuff. And we had the whole adventure. And all of our 20s we lived in a storage unit, really, we were just on the road full time.
Eight years ago, the Vargas moved to Portland and started a family. But with the establishment of their business, travel has always proven to be a central pillar of their lives.
“We know travel is the one thing we can buy that really makes us richer,” Vargas said.