More people looking to travel again
Cierra McNeill has a date with Mickey Mouse.
And Goofy, and Pluto, and any other characters she meets on her April trip to Walt Disney World. It’s been two years since the 23-year-old last jumped on a plane.
“I haven’t traveled in such a long time,” she said. “I just want to go places.”
She’s not worried about contracting COVID-19, nor is she worried about government travel regulations — after all, they’ll likely change by the time she’s ready to board, she said.
His friends are also heading south, to Mexico and other warm destinations.
“People…want to move on and live their lives,” McNeill said.
Rick Gaudet, owner of Fareconnect Travel, returned from Cancun a few weeks ago and is now handling an influx of customers from Winnipeg looking to leave.
Business was up 75% from the same period last year, Gaudet estimated. Most customers are heading to Mexico, where fully vaccinated travelers do not need a COVID-19 test to enter.
“I think originally a lot of people were worried about getting COVID,” Gaudet said. “I’ve seen a little change in that over the last two months.”
Polymerase chain reaction testing and Canada’s quarantine requirements are high on the list of concerns for the average Manitoba traveler, Gaudet said.
“If the PCR test is removed…I think there will be a big jump in business, that’s for sure,” Gaudet said. “It has a lot to do with those costs.”
Currently, travelers need a negative molecular test to re-enter (and sometimes exit) Canada. Costs vary but can be as high as $200 per test.
Canada’s health minister is expected to announce changes to travel restrictions later this week.
Fareconnect Travel traffic has not approached pre-pandemic levels, despite the sharp increase, Gaudet said.
“It’s all relative,” he said. “You’re comparing (our sales) to what we had on the books for 2019, (and) we’re still only around 20% down.”
Lesli Malegus, the owner of Selkirk Travel, said she’s noticed a spike in activity over the past two weeks.
She thinks the anticipation of the PCR test requirement being scrapped is prompting more people to go on holiday.
“Cost was an issue,” she said, adding that many people have recovered from COVID-19, making them travel-ready.
“Don’t get me wrong: we are still in a pandemic situation, but the more people who are vaccinated, (and) the less tests and rules we have to follow to travel, the more confident people will be when traveling,” says Malégus. .
Customers are more concerned about overseas quarantine than the virus, she said.
Receiving a false positive test, leading to a need for quarantine, is also a frequently cited concern, Malegus said.
That’s Darren Swire’s concern. The 43-year-old will travel to Orlando in April for his daughter’s cheerleading tournament. Both contracted COVID-19 last month and have since recovered.
“You can test positive for six months, I’m told, after you’ve had it,” the triple-vaccinated dad said. “So my worry is diminishing and not catching it again, but a test comes back positive.”
Swire said he visited a government testing site in January but was turned away due to arrears, meaning he had no official record of his previous illness.
Being forced to quarantine in a hotel room is expensive, Swire said. It also prolongs his return to work and his daughter’s return to school.
“(I’m) definitely nervous and worried about how this is going to turn out,” he said, adding that he was thrilled to see his teenage cheerleader overseas for the first time as well. two years.
The Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable – made up of industry leaders such as the heads of the Canadian Airports Council and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce – released an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday. . The lobby group called on Ottawa to unveil a clear timeline for lifting travel restrictions for fully vaccinated travelers and their children.
“(This includes) removing unnecessary pre-departure and arrival testing and isolation requirements and general travel advisories,” the letter reads.
The Winnipeg Airports Authority is answering the call, said Tyler MacAfee, the organization’s vice president of communications and government relations.
“We’ve reached the point where we’re starting to live with the virus,” MacAfee said. “Travel is part of that.”
The WAA had 1.2 million passengers last year, down from a pre-pandemic peak of 4.5 million. Things will come back, but restrictions need to be lifted, MacAfee said.
“Travellers are a healthy population, and people who work in the industry have all had to be vaccinated,” he said.
CAA Manitoba is already booking destination weddings for 2023, according to regional director Susan Postma. And, the company is seeing an increase in travel to hotspots like Mexico and Hawaii this winter.
“Planning and preparation is probably more essential now than it ever was on a trip,” Postma said.
Buying travel insurance is important, she added.
Countries such as Denmark, Switzerland and the UK have removed travel restrictions for vaccinated people.
Bookings to sunny destinations through Tripcentral.ca have exceeded 50% of pre-pandemic levels, according to President Richard Vanderlubbe.
– With files from The Canadian Press
Gabby is a big fan of people, writing and learning. She graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in the spring of 2020.
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