As travel agencies report soaring international bookings, experts and travellers say Canada’s requirement around quarantine hotels for returning travellers is the number one factor holding back people from taking trips. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

As travel agencies report soaring international bookings, experts and travellers say Canada’s requirement around quarantine hotels for returning travellers is the number one factor holding back people from taking trips. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Travel agencies report soaring bookings, but quarantine hotels hold people back

Experts and travellers say Canada’s requirement around quarantine hotels is the No. 1 factor holding them back from taking a trip

As travel agencies report soaring international bookings, experts and travellers say Canada’s requirement around quarantine hotels for returning travellers is the No. 1 factor holding back people from taking trips.

Large Canadian booking agencies like Flight Centre and tripcentral.ca have reported massive month-over-month increases in bookings since April, with Flight Centre reporting a nearly 20 per cent increase in bookings in April when compared to March.

May is on track to be their busiest since the pandemic began, though the overall amount is negligible compared with pre-pandemic times.

“In the last month, just because the vaccine rollout has really picked up, there’s a lot of inquiry, and people are starting to book for that fall, winter and into early 2022 period,” said Allison Wallace, a spokeswoman with Flight Centre.

“People really seem to be thinking, ‘I’m going away this winter’… there’s no question that a year of not being able to travel has people feeling very much like they want something to look forward to.”

Richard Vanderlubbe, President of tripcentral.ca, said 20 per cent of respondents to his company’s survey in February said they would travel immediately, even when vaccination efforts had a long way to go and vaccine supply was limited.

As cases drop sharply and vaccination efforts pick up, Vanderlubbe said there would be many more people willing to book a trip right now if Canada didn’t have an expensive mandatory hotel quarantine process for international arrival.

“They are so itching to go, as soon as anything lets up on those restrictions, boom, there’ll be some demand,” said Vanderlubbe.

“People can tolerate the 14 day quarantine… but it’s the hotel thing that’s really stopping it.”

On Thursday, the expert panel that advises the federal government on COVID-19 matters said Canada should scrap the mandatory three-day hotel quarantine for returning travellers, saying clear communication and effective contact tracing for returning travellers would be more effective at this time.

The National Airlines Council of Canada, which represents Canada’s largest air carriers, welcomed the panel’s advice, and also called for personal quarantine periods to be reduced from 14 days to seven.

“We strongly support these recommendations, and they are in-keeping with policy measures that are already being implemented by other countries as they release their plans for the safe re-start of aviation and travel,” said NACC President and CEO Mike McNaney.

“We must get moving on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of Canadians in every region of the country whose livelihoods depend on travel and tourism.”

However, Canadian Health Minister Patty Hajdu and chief public health officer Theresa Tam say the federal government needs time to consider the panel’s report and discuss it with provinces before making a decision.

They were not able to give a timeline for when a decision on hotel quarantines would be made.

“As we move toward the next weeks and months with more and more vaccinations inside Canada, I think we’ll be able to have a lot more flexibility at the border,” said Tam.

“I’m certain we’ll be hearing more about this space in the coming weeks.”

Both Vanderlubbe and Wallace say most of the bookings they’re seeing are for Mexico and the Caribbean in autumn and winter, as well as for Europe later in 2022. They say most travellers are hoping that many COVID-19 restrictions will have been scaled back by then.

Vanderlubbe said there could be a ‘flash’ of demand in August for European destinations as well if restrictions ease before the summer break is over.

Nora Downer, a 25-year-old Toronto resident, said her August trip to England to visit friends will hinge on whether travel restrictions ease.

She said she felt the need to book last month because she wanted to lock in a low rate and get her schedule sorted before a possible boom in travel demand when Canada’s reopening gets further underway.

Vanderlubbe said public sentiment around travel has certainly changed in the past couple months, and that his company would get hate mail if they sent out advertising emails that even mentioned travel destinations just a couple months ago.

“Now, (if advertising) for November forward, we’re not getting the pushback that we used to,” said Vanderlubbe.

Still, people like Downer say they’re being judged for their decision to book a trip later this August, even though she expects to have her second vaccine shot by then.

“When I told my parents I was going, there was definitely judgment there, like “what do you think you’re doing?” said Downer.

“I think travel is one of the things that people are still the most worried about.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Air TravelCoronavirus

Just Posted

Joseph Albert Brooks, 94-years-young pf Prince Rupert offers traditional prayers and smudging to the sick. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Heart of our City: Joseph Albert Brooks keeps smudging and praying for others

94-year-old Tsimshian elder just wants some help washing his floors

Land along Prince Rupert’s waterfront, PID 012-247-391, where residents say excessive industrial train noise is stemming from, has been found to be owned by the City of Prince Rupert and is not federal land like first presented, Prince Rupert Environmental Society stated on June 17. (Image: supplied by Land Title and Survey, Govt. of BC.)
Error found on land titles map may assist city with noise control enforcement of industry

Prince Rupert residents had been told there was no municipal jurisdiction to enforce noise bylaws

Department of Oceans and Fisheries has announced as of July 19 chinook salmon is not to be fished in certain areas in BC tidal waters until July. Spring chinook salmon are seen swimming. (Photo courtesy Michael Humling, US Fish & Wildlife Service)
Chinook Salmon limits set to zero in some BC tidal waters

DFO implement restrictions to protect Chinook Salmon

Visitors to a pop-up temporary aquarium in Prince Rupert will have the chance to see marine ecology from July 21 to Aug. 15, like this viewer watching sea anemones at the Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Prince Rupert pop-up aquarium will bring sea level to eye level in July

A permanent peak to reef ecology centre is in the planning stages by North Coast Ecology Society

Prince Rupert’s Ellen Wright and Graeme Dickens jam out during filming the two Ring System Studio concerts to be broadcast on television during June. (Photo: supplied, H. Cox)
Ring System Studio sounds on television

Two concerts by the Prince Rupert music school will be broadcast in June

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Patrick O’Brien, a 75-year-old fisherman, went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search for lost fisherman near Victoria suspended, U.S. Coast Guard says

The 75-year-old man was reported missing Thursday evening

Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation in New York on Nov. 4, 2019. (Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Canadians who got AstraZeneca shot can now see ‘Springsteen on Broadway’

B.C. mayor David Screech who received his second AstraZeneca dose last week can now attend the show

New research suggests wolves can be steered away from the endangered caribou herds they prey on by making the man-made trails they use to hunt harder to move along. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Culling cutlines, not B.C. wolves, key to preserving caribou herds: researcher

The government has turned to killing hundreds of wolves in an effort to keep caribou around

Gary Abbott (left) and Louis De Jaeger were two of the organizers for the 2014 Spirit of the People Powwow in Chilliwack. Monday, June 21, 2021 is Indigenous Peoples Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of June 20 to 26

Indigenous Peoples Day, Take Your Dog to Work Day, Onion Rings Day all coming up this week

Gwen Spencer Hethey with her uncle and mentor Major Frederick Richardson. (Courtesy of Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame)
‘She was a killer’: The B.C. woman who pioneered female sharpshooting

Gwen Spencer Hethey made military men ‘look like turkeys’ says her son

Central Okanagan Grade 12 grads are set to get $500 each after a more than $1 million donation from a Kelowna couple. (File photo)
B.C. couple donating $500 to every Grade 12 student in the Okanagan

Anonymous donors identified as Kelowna entrepreneurs Lance and Tammy Torgerson

Most Read