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

Little Brown Bat, Cori Lausen image
Puntledge River bats being studied

Scientists will be monitering bat activity in the Puntlesge River Watershed this… Continue reading

A 30x40 ft boat/car shop in the Little River area near Wilkinson Road was fully involved by the time firefighters arrived on scene. Photo by Comox Fire Rescue
Comox firefighters battle ‘showy’ shop fire Saturday night

Smoke could be seen throughout the Comox Valley

ROAM Media’s Ian Adams designed the label for the new honey ale. Image supplied
Church St., Ace combine on a true Comox Valley brew

The taphouse has Home Buoy on tap, and it’s also in cans

The finish line! Huband held a ‘Colour Run’ Friday to celebrate what’s been a different school year. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Comox Valley school lets its colours run

Huband Elementary wanted a way to bring kids together

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Port Alberni court house (Alberni Valley News)
Coroners’ inquest into 2016 death of Port Alberni teen rescheduled for June 21

18-year-old Jocelyn George died of heart failure after spending time in jail cell

Children’s shoes and flowers are shown after being placed outside the Ontario legislature in Toronto on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ontario commits $10 million to investigate burial sites at residential schools

Truth and Reconciliation Commission identified 12 locations of unmarked burial sites in Ontario

Singer-songwriter Jann Arden is pictured with a draft horse. (Canadian Horse Defence Coalition)
Jann Arden backs petition to stop ‘appalling’ live horse export, slaughter

June 14 is the International Day to End Live Export of Animals

Two hundred and fifteen lights are placed on the lawn outside the Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., Saturday, June, 13, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Days after Kamloops remains discovery, Tk’emlups families gather to unite, move ahead

‘We have to work together because this is going to be setting a precedent for the rest of the country’

In this Saturday, May 29, 2021, file photo, people crowd the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, Calif. California, the first state in America to put in place a coronavirus lockdown, is now turning a page on the pandemic. Most of California’s coronavirus restrictions will disappear Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
With COVID tamed, it’s a ‘grand reopening’ in California

No more state rules on social distancing, no more limits on capacity, no more mandatory masks

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Most Read