TORONTO — The year 2022 hasn’t exactly started off on solid ground, with major airlines and tour operators being forced to temporarily suspend select destinations and reduce flights due to low passenger demand and ongoing travel restrictions.
But there are still certain destinations that continue to sell well for travel agents in winter 2022, tried and true Sun staples that both agents and their clients can rely on throughout these challenging months : Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Hawaii.
MEXICO & DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
According to Melanie Anne Filipp, Director, Corporate Communications & Media Relations, Sunwing Travel Group, vacation packages to Mexico and the D.R. are among its bestsellers for the winter season for multiple reasons, namely air access, an array of accommodation options and ease of PCR testing.
Flights are available to both countries from various gateways across Canada, including daily flights from Toronto and Montreal to Cancun and Punta Cana along with regular flights to Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta, Los Cabos and Puerto Plata. Accommodations range from the adults-only Hideaway at Royalton Riviera Cancun, An Autograph Collection All Inclusive Resort – Adults Only, to the family-friendly Grand Sunset Princess All Suites and Spa Resort in the Riviera Maya. Plus, a number of resorts including Sunwing-owned Royalton and Planet Hollywood properties offer on-site, pre-departure PCR testing at a competitive price point, making it easy for Canadians to obtain their mandatory test prior to returning home to Canada.
“Both Mexico and the Dominican Republic are considered ‘Easy Entry’ destinations, meaning there are no inbound testing requirements or complicated restrictions,” said Filipp. “They are loved for their expansive beaches and wide range of all-inclusive resorts that offers something for every travel style, whether customers are travelling alone, going on a getaway with friends, heading away with the whole family or seeking a romantic retreat with a significant other.”
Travelweek heard from several travel agents across Canada who all say Mexico and the D.R. are the main Sun destinations they’re selling right now.
Valerie Murphy of Vision Travel Cambridge in Cambridge, ON tells Travelweek that clients are mostly booking Mexico and the DR (and also Cuba), mainly with Air Canada Vacations, Transat and Sunwing.
“I’m finding a lot of my clients are just ready to travel, they’ve done everything required of them for almost two years, including wearing masks, limiting gatherings, not travelling and getting vaccinated,” said Murphy. “At this point, they want to get away but they are looking for destinations that don’t require testing.”
Ocean Phi Long Le of Bodad Travel in Toronto says that it isn’t surprising that the Dominican Republic continues to sell well, as many resorts are going above and beyond to make travel as convenient as possible during these times.
“Travelling during the pandemic is stressful and with changing rules, it would make any traveller nervous,” he says. “But Punta Cana offers consistent entry requirements, provides PCR tests at consistent pricing and offers large resorts that are ideal for social distancing for big groups of travellers.”
Finally, both Gary Rams of Crowfoot Travel Solutions Calgary, and Anita Magnoli of Airliners in Toronto tell Travelweek that nothing beats Mexico and the Dominican Republic when it comes to price. Rams says he’s “doing a lot of Mexico with all the sun suppliers” right now, adding that it’s “selling as long as there is a beach,” while Magnoli, who’s mostly booking Mexico and the D.R. with Air Canada Vacations, Transat and Expedia, credits both destinations for being “affordable, having reasonable flight times and relaxed entry requirements.”
When it comes to sunny destinations, Hawaii ranks among the very top for WestJet Vacations this winter, says Dave Cecco, Director. Noting the destination’s beautiful beaches, warm weather and Safe Travels Hawaii program, “the Hawaiian Islands remain one pf our most popular sun destinations for guests look to escape the cold for a warm-weather vacation this winter season,” he adds.
WestJet offers nonstop flights to The Island of Hawaii (Kona), Maui (Kahului), Oahu (Honolulu) and Kauai (Lihue). It’s also providing guests increased flexibility and affordable options from select Western Canadian cities.
“In addition, travel agents can also look to book a WestJet Vacations package for their guests and choose from a wide variety of accommodations to meet any budget, such as the family-favourite Aston at The Waikiki Banyan Condos in Honolulu and the luxury Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort,” says Cecco.
For added reassurance, Cecco is reminding agents of WestJet’s new partnership with Azova that allows passengers to access approved self-testing and in-person options in order to meet Hawaii’s entry requirements.