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To stay or go? International tensions and in some cases outright fighting are dominating the news these days, but are they curtailing Canadian travel plans?
Well, according to surveyed travel agents, that depends on the region in question, with for instance, fighting between Israel and Hamas unsurprisingly scaring some away from the Middle East. But the Middle East isn’t the only part of the the world that some are hesitant to visit right now, says Toronto travel agent Ethel Hansen Davey.
“People are still reluctant to go to a few Eastern European countries because of the war in Ukraine and now, once again the Middle East is a real powder keg and any country near Israel is off the radar,” says the Uniglobe Enterprise agent. “It’s a sad, sad situation. It, of course, has a horrific effect in the countries at war and the innocents there, but it has a ripple effect around the globe, affecting our industry and many others. Can’t we just learn to get along?”
Fellow Toronto agent Paul Nielsen agrees safety concerns tend to be focused on given regions.
“I personally am seeing some hesitancy in travel in two areas specifically: Physically anywhere in the Middle East or emotionally any place that might be subject to anti-semitic violence,” says the Paragon Travel agent. “On the other hand, the Canadian desire to escape from the cold is very strong — all the Caribbean is popular. Clients are taken by surprise by higher prices and then wave the credit card anyway.”
However, Carolyn O’Reilly of Genesis Vacations in Calgary says safety concerns haven’t put a damper on her business.
“It hasn’t affected my bookings yet. although, I certainly get more questions on safety in countries and what-ifs,” she reports. “I book mostly Europe and so my clients are comfortable travelling there. I have no one in the Israel/Palestine area. I’m in St.Lucia right now and it feels pretty safe, like a lot of the southeastern Caribbean.
Monica Milin of Vancouver-area La Dolce Vita Travel also says her business isn’t being interrupted by conflicts or feuds between governments.
“We have not had anyone even mention the turmoil,” Milin adds. “We are booking well into 2024.”
The Caribbean’s being identified as a part of the world that’s removed from international turmoil by some travel agents suggests it could benefit by people wanting to holiday far from any fighting, with Lessner Gomez, director of the Cuba Tourism Board’s office for English-speaking Canada, saying his homeland is rightly seen as a safe vacation retreat.
“Cuba is one of the safest countries in the world; there are no drugs or guns on the streets,” he states. “it is safe for tourists to go out of the hotels and resort areas and explore on their own and walk the streets at any time of the day.
“Canadians love to go to Cuba and mingle with the locals, they love to see kids playing on the streets and they are not harassed. They feel welcome and it is a great feeling they cherish,” Gomez continues.
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