Happy Long Weekend my friends!
The weather looks fabulous for most of the country throughout the weekend. I hope you will all have an opportunity to enjoy some much-needed R&R.
One thing is for certain: not a single one of us, in 2015, got it right when we answered ‘Where do you picture yourself in 5 years?’ Right? Where did you picture yourself? Many of you thought you’d be on a beach, in the middle of the rainforest, in a garden surrounding by historical ruins, or elsewhere getting married to your partner surrounded by your loved ones…and then covid happened… How many times have you found yourself saying ‘and then covid happened’ in the last couple of months?
Change is inevitable and this pandemic has certainly changed a lot of our ‘normal’ lives. It has been 143 days since the pandemic hit Canada. Do you remember how you felt about it at the beginning? How are you feeling about it now? I would imagine there is quite the difference. For most of you in Ontario, we’ve gone from almost being in a lock down to being in Stage 3 where social distancing is still encouraged, you can have social bubbles and the number of guests that can attend a wedding has grown to 100 (outdoors). It was also announced this week that, in Ontario, come September, the schools would be opening back up full-time. While many are nervous and waiting to see how this will affect our new cases numbers, these are all great signs that our country has done a great job at flattening the curve.
Another great sign is the amount of countries that have opened their borders to Canadians for travel; this list is much more extensive in comparison to the countries who are accepting travellers from the USA. This list will continue to grow as long as we continue to work together as a country. This week, the World Health Organization (WHO) shared that we should continue to fight COVID-19 by wearing masks, not with travel bans: "where these measures are followed, cases go down. Where they are not, cases go up”. The WHO Director-General applauded Canada, China, Germany and South Korea for keeping their COVID-19 situation under control. (You can read the update release yourself at: https://www.who.int/news-room/articles-detail/updated-who-recommendations-for-international-traffic-in-relation-to-covid-19-outbreak?fbclid=IwAR2qIxiLBlHQR7zwTjtuWihIcJhrkIVoiTCtolzXoSgZrpgC3WVJFCNX-fo. If this global professional stance paired with the schools opening up are any indication of what’s to come, the current emergency order (where all travellers entering Canada must self-quarantine or isolate for 14 days; with NO exception to this rule) may just be left to expire with its current end date of August 31, 2020 or at least updated.
What does this mean for travel? From all the feedback I’ve received from clients, from the general public and from within the travel industry, it seems that the 14-day quarantine upon return is the biggest (in many cases, only) obstacle between travellers staying at home and travelling internationally. Right now, all travel suppliers are losing millions & billions of dollars and are looking to close the sales that they can. Almost all suppliers are offering large discounts for bookings made before the end of this summer and travelled within 2021. As soon as the government recommendation and the emergency order are lifted, you will see the flood gates open and everyone who loves to travel will be trying to book something, anything, for them to get somewhere else. The availability for this Winter and Spring 2021 is already becoming limited. You have all the re-bookings for those who have had their March-July bookings cancelled and those travellers who like to get away each winter and have already booked a deal (likely with a free one-time cancellation or change promotion). What does that leave? For now, we’re still seeing some great pricing for Winter 2021 and Spring 2022. However, we know for certain that, once the flood gates open, you’ll see the prices for travel start to skyrocket because there simply won’t be enough seats on planes or rooms on resorts.
For the time being, we may not recommend travel for this winter (unless you are comfortable with the risk of a supplier having to cancel your reservation and have the flexibility to rebook for different dates). With the suppliers we work with, we do not believe that you would be putting your health at risk; especially if you adhere to all of the health protocols put in place by all the individual countries, tourism boards, and suppliers. If you’re considering travelling in 2021 or 2022, I recommend reaching out so we can see what options are available to you. If you’re unsure of your must-have guests’ current sentiments on travel, start the conversation with them. Keep in mind that your current feelings aren’t the same as they were 3-4 months ago and they’ll likely be very different in another year.
If you simply want to chat or have questions about travel, don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m inundated with the global travel information daily and would love to share with you how you may be impacted.
I hope that you and your families continue to be safe & healthy.
P.S. In case you’ve heard it in the news, I’d like to be transparent. Without any income for 4+ months (since travel agents only get paid once their clients have completed their travel), it is estimated that 1 in 4 travel agents will be leaving the industry. Luckily, I am not part of this 25%. Additionally, should bankruptcy or insolvency happen to any of the suppliers we use in your reservation, you would be eligible to submit a claim to the TICO Compensation Fund: https://www.tico.ca/consumers/overview. (Knowing that, if this did occur, it would affect a record number of consumers, so actual compensation may be extremely limited. Therefore, this does not replace travel insurance.)