TORONTO — Newswire stories from outlets like The Associated Press (AP) and The Canadian Press (CP) get picked up by consumer news outlets in Canada, the U.S. and all over the world.
That means newspaper readers and news site users across Canada and beyond saw this CP headline this weekend: ‘Travel agencies report soaring bookings, but quarantine hotels hold people back.”
While the bit about the hotel quarantine deterrent is hardly new information for the travel industry, the great news is that consumers catching that headline in papers and news sites saw yet more proof of just how relevant travel agents are when it comes to travel bookings.
It also signals to consumers that yes, other people are indeed booking travel for the months ahead, helping to take away the stigma of travel shaming.
As the CP story notes, travel agencies are reporting soaring international bookings. Meanwhile experts and travellers say Canada’s requirement around quarantine hotels for returning travellers is the number one factor holding back people from taking trips.
Flight Centre’s Allison Wallace, VP, Corporate Communications & CSR, The Americas, was interviewed for the story. “In the last month, just because the vaccine rollout has really picked up, there’s a lot of inquiry, and people are starting to book for that fall, winter and into early 2022 period,” said Wallace.
She added: “People really seem to be thinking, ‘I’m going away this winter’ – there’s no question that a year of not being able to travel has people feeling very much like they want something to look forward to.”
Flight Centre reported a nearly 20% increase in bookings in April 2021 compared to March 2021.
Also interviewed for the story was Richard Vanderlubbe, President of tripcentral.ca, who said that 20% of respondents to his company’s survey in February said they would travel immediately, even when vaccination efforts had a long way to go and vaccine supply was limited.
Vanderlubbe told CP that with cases dropping sharply and vaccination efforts picking up, there would be many more people willing to book a trip right now if Canada didn’t have an expensive mandatory hotel quarantine process for international arrival.
“They are so itching to go, as soon as anything lets up on those restrictions, boom, there’ll be some demand,” said Vanderlubbe. “People can tolerate the 14 day quarantine, but it’s the hotel thing that’s really stopping it.”
Last Thursday the expert panel that advises the federal government on COVID-19 matters said Canada should scrap the mandatory three-day hotel quarantine for returning travellers, saying clear communication and effective contact tracing for returning travellers would be more effective at this time.
The National Airlines Council of Canada (NACC) welcomed the panel’s advice, and also called for personal quarantine periods to be reduced from 14 days to seven.
Health Minister Patty Hajdu and chief public health officer Theresa Tam say the federal government needs time to consider the panel’s report and discuss it with provinces before making a decision. They were not able to give a timeline for when a decision on hotel quarantines would be made.
“As we move toward the next weeks and months with more and more vaccinations inside Canada, I think we’ll be able to have a lot more flexibility at the border,” said Tam, adding: “I’m certain we’ll be hearing more about this space in the coming weeks.”
Both Vanderlubbe and Wallace told CP that most of the bookings they’re seeing are for Mexico and the Caribbean in autumn and winter, as well as for Europe later in 2022. They say most travellers are hoping that many COVID-19 restrictions will have been scaled back by then.
Vanderlubbe said there could be a `flash’ of demand in August for European destinations as well if restrictions ease before the summer break is over.
With file from The Canadian Press