Travel 2021: Safety, space and seeking the advice of an agent
It is difficult to predict 2021 with any degree of certainty, as we are now in the early days of the colder weather and flu season in Canada – and are also in the throes of a concerning COVID-19 “second wave.”
This is a new obstacle that we will need to manage through, however I anticipate it means that the upcoming winter season for travel inside and outside Canada will be a challenge.
This was reinforced on Nov. 17 by the Prime Minister speaking publicly about asking Canadians to avoid all international travel, including the southern United States.
However, there are hopeful signs on the horizon and we need to continue to take steps to ensure that as the spread of COVID declines in 2021 with the introduction of vaccines, more available testing and contact tracing in the community and at airports and the height of the cold and flu season is behind us, that the travel industry is ready.
This includes aggressively continuing the work of the rapid testing pilot projects taking place in YYZ, YVR and YYC. Over the past few weeks, we saw more provincial political leaders expressing interest in airport rapid testing in their provinces and the easing of the 14-day mandatory quarantine for travellers and this is a tremendously positive sign for the future – probably Q2 2021.
My predictions for the coming year are as follows:
- Travel outside Canada will remain very soft throughout the winter due to the issues identified above.
- There will be some improvement starting in the spring and into the summer 2021
- The beginnings of the recov-ery will be “patchy,” due to the likelihood of restrictions being eased, restrictions being reinstated, restrictions being eased for a while.
- Travelling within Canada next summer will be very popular – we saw this to some extent last summer and we’ve seen this with other less prolonged crises – so as an industry we need to prepare to sell domestic destinations.
- Travellers will be looking for safety, looking for more space than usual, they will be more cautious and carefully consider when, where and how they travel. They will also expect the government and the travel industry to provide effective rapid testing and contact tracing before – during – and after the holiday.
- I see “together but separate” vacations being more popular in 2021, villas, condominiums, RVs and other self- service accommodation.
- There are billions of dollars of Future Travel Vouchers (FTVs) in the system and once travellers see progress on vaccines, vaccine implementation and rapid testing, I believe we will see a significant amount of bookings for late 2021 and 2022 using FTVs. It is also possible that the Canadian government may provide incentives for Canadians to travel within Canada next summer and a portion of these FTVs will be used for Canada travel in 2021.
- More travellers will seek the advice of a professional travel agent.