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World’s most loved travel publisher, Lonely Planet announces shut down of its branches in Melbourne and London, citing corona induced travel restrictions as the primary reason. We explore.
The world has come to a halt. Due to corona pandemic nearly 4 billion people across the length and breadth of the globe are forced to lock down and stay put in their homes. And there is no respite, as to when the pandemic will be controlled and when the governments will ease the travel restrictions. The growth of Travel sector has always been ahead of the world’s overall economic growth, but in current situation, the worst hit is the travel sector. To reiterate this fact, comes the sad news of world’s most read guide book publisher Lonely Planet, shutting down their Melbourne and London offices. They will still keep publishing through their Dublin and Tennessee branches, but they will face some job cuts too.
The news comes with a saddening impact, as Melbourne was where LP’s voyage to discover the planet started. In 1973, a travel enthusiastic Australian couple, Tony and Maureen Wheeler, embarked on a journey from London across Asia to Australia. And from their cross continent endeavour emerged their first travel guide, Across Asia on the Cheap.
Since then, the travel guide company has grown to become the world’s largest travel publisher which dominates about 31.5 percent of the global guidebook market. With their dedicated travel writers, scattered across the world, Lonely Planet provides a glimpse into the remotest corners of the world through a vernacular perspective.
The company’s mission was, and is, to introduce the world to uncharted beauties that have gone unnoticed, while giving the travel hungry vagabonds a new destination to explore. A catalyst who, as Ryan Ver Berkmoes, a veteran writer who has written 130 guidebooks, says, “helped take the foreign out of foreign travel”.
The writer further explains Lonely Planet guidebooks as “the friend that you wanted next to you at the bar in the country you’d just landed in. Full of smart, savvy advice so you could start having a great trip”, which perfectly defines their role in a traveller’s life.
But, as time passed and the travel industry popularized, Lonely Planet had to struggle with keeping up. With the recurring changes in the company’s ownership by first being sold to BBC at £130 Million in 2007 and then to US-based NC2 media at £51.5 Million in 2013, along with the decrease in sales of guide books worldwide, Lonely Planet had to diversify. They broadened their scope by turning it into a multimedia business, available on TV, blogging platforms, e-commerce partnerships and creating their own magazine and mobile app.
This isn’t the first time Lonely Planet is facing such tough situation. The 9/11 in 2001 and the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami had tremendous impact on their business. The company has used that opportunity to use their resources for humanitarian purposes. The company deployed their people to all the majorly affected areas to detect projects that were making a difference so people knew where to seek for help. Furthermore, they had comprehensive segments on their website that answered questions like: How can I help? Where should I travel?, and How do I get home?.
Unfortunately, travellers being locked down in their houses has left Lonely Planet stranded, struggling to survive on itself. All we can hope for is that once this pandemic has gone, and travellers are set to plunge into new adventures, the rising need for a guide will help Lonely Planet prosper. With Corona Safety issues being the highest priority, travelers will look upto Lonely Planet for their guidance on safe travels. Talking on the future scenario of travel, as well as Lonely Planet, Tony Wheeler said to The Guardian, “I don’t think the current crisis is going to end the role of the traditional guidebook – whether it’s print or digital. I’ve already got the new LP guidebooks for travels I had intended to make later this year”.
Here’s to a bright future for travel.
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