'It’s going to be really tough to keep a traveller down': Canadians will face another 'huge challenge' with COVID-19
Check-in kiosks are covered with plastic at the domestic check-in at Vancouver International Airport on Tuesday, June 9, 2020. Airlines in Canada and around the world suffer financially from the lack of travel and travel bans due to COVID-19. (Jonathan Hayward / The Canadian Press via AP)
COVID-19 in Canada
This time of year is usually full of Canadians packing their bags for the summer vacation, but with COVID-19 is still in the air when travel in the country and around the world can resume.
While travel restrictions still exist, airlines, hotels and other tour operators are working to resume operations as much as possible.
The airlines have advertised their summer travel plans. From July 5 through August 4, 2020, WestJet announced that it would offer 45 destinations, including 39 in Canada, five in the United States and one in Mexico.
Air Canada announced plans in May to increase its international flights, including destinations such as Rome, Athens, Shanghai and Munich. Air Transat expects to resume its flights and tour operator activities on July 23, and will "step by step" operate international direct flights, including France, Italy, England, Cuba, Mexico and Florida.
This is because the Canadian government continues to urge the public to avoid all non-essential travel and many provinces adhere to a 14-day isolation rule for everyone coming to the province, including domestic travelers.
"I think travelers are very resilient, it's one of the fastest growing industries in the world by 2019, and I think it will be really difficult to keep a traveler down," said Greg Klassen, partner at Twenty31 Consulting Der Former head of the Canadian Tourism Commission (now Destination Canada) told Yahoo Canada. "They are really interested in travel and will come back."
Klassen said millennial travelers in particular are expected to be the first group to travel back, but seniors are also itching to return to their annual trips, despite the majority of severe COVID-19 cases affecting those 60 and older.
“In some of the international data that I read, there are still seniors who are most affected by COVID. You're really considering getting back on those cruise ships, getting on those planes, and going through life that way again, ”Klassen said.
Health care professional says "ongoing tailored travel advice" will likely be
Even though some people are waiting for the moment to go on a trip, health officials still urge people to exercise caution.
"Once we're done with it, if we don't get a vaccine soon, which I don't think will happen until the end of 2021, we'll have such a slow burn risk that will always be in the background." Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious disease specialist at Trillium Health Partners, told Yahoo Canada. "Especially people at higher risk will be outside their home in every aspect of their lives."
Dr. Chakrabarti said there is a particular risk for anyone planning to travel by plane, train, or other publicly shared transportation.
"The main problem with the spread of viruses is that you have the common themes that people are in close contact, in an enclosed space ... over a long period of time," he said. "An additional risk is that people who are in the same situation and talk, scream or sing a lot. These are things that can further increase this risk."
Airlines and the travel industry are demanding that restrictions be relaxed by summer
The travel industry most affected is calling on national and regional politicians to relax the border rules well into the summer. Tomasia DaSilva reports.
If Canadians can travel to international destinations if a vaccine is not yet available worldwide, they should also consider the risk of infection with the disease at their destination.
"If we get out of the restriction, you will see that the situation will be different in different places," said Dr. Chakrabarti. "Certain places like Australia have seen no or very few cases for some time now, while the risk of going to certain places like [the United States] where there is an ongoing large transmission will definitely be something."
"I suspect that there will always be tailor-made travel advice where you should avoid unnecessary trips in the future."
When it comes to welcoming international travel to Canada, Canadians seem particularly "hideous" here.
"It will be an absolutely huge challenge for Canada," Klassen said. "Welcoming visitors from these locations will be a very, very challenging challenge for Canadians."
"I think the Canadian tourism industry needs to start by creating a communication and marketing plan so that Canadians feel more comfortable but are not there yet with the traditional welcome they offer to international visitors."
Domestic and international flight searches for Canadian users (KAYAK)
Canada's “strong” domestic tourism could keep tour operators alive
It's no surprise that travel experts believe that domestic travel will recover faster than international travel.
"The good news about Canada is that we have a very strong domestic tourism industry," Klassen said. "We have the ability ... to encourage Canadians to move and travel within Canada."
According to Kayak's daily search data, national and international flight searches have decreased significantly since early March, but the differences between the two are increasing and more and more Canadians are looking for domestic travel.
The first significant indication of this domestic travel trend is likely to begin with what classes call "bubble tourism," where certain provinces make an agreement that allows visitors to cross common borders without having to isolate for 14 days.
The provinces in the maritime sector are currently holding talks about an “Atlantic bubble” that would enable people to move between the four provinces without requiring isolation.
Manitoba has decided that people from BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan and parts of northwestern Ontario can enter the province without self-isolation if they are not symptomatic or are known to have close contact with a COVID-19 case.
Although domestic travel in Canada could be quite strong, it may not be enough to make up for the loss in international tourism, but it might be enough to "keep some businesses alive this year," Klassen said.
“The big donors are really the international travelers. They'll take these helicopters over Niagara Falls or go on these big excursions in Banff and stay at these super high-end hotels in Tofino, and these are the ones we are I will miss, ”Klassen said. "We will miss this great international trip of a lifelong visitor type."
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