Heightened Appreciation

ACTA president Wendy Paradis says the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the appreciation travel agents are receiving from the travelling public.

Paradis told a Wednesday webinar — hosted by ASTA and which also featured her counterparts from different travel organizations — that the pandemic is leading to potential travellers in this country wanting to know what safety protocols are in place and what the COVID-19 levels are in the destinations they’re considering vacationing in.

Indeed, Canadian travel agents are now seen as “more valuable than ever,” Paradis said.

She said the number of questions agents are fielding from those considering making bookings has soared because of COVID-19, with clients who aren’t planning to travel until February having as many as 10 to 15 questions for the travel agents they’re dealing with.

Vanessa Ledesma of the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association used the webinar to praise agents, saying they can provide such qualities as trust and expertise, which are “vital” these days.

Meanwhile, Paradis said Canadians who travelled this summer generally did so within this country, adding there’s a “tremendous pent-up demand” to see the world after the pandemic led to many of us staying at home for a year or more.

She said those wanting to travel have to deal with inconsistencies in travel regulations that different countries have imposed. “I think we need, quite frankly, to get our act together and follow the science.”

Ledesma said COVID-19 and the accompanying slowdown in international tourism has had a punishing effect on the Caribbean’s economy given that the Caribbean is one of the most tourism-dependent regions in the world.

But she said the Caribbean has responded well to the pandemic, having comparatively low infection and death rates

Ledesma added that the Caribbean – which this year has had to contend with hurricanes and an earthquake – is no stranger to crises.