With travel restrictions easing up for vaccinated travellers, the floodgates are reopening for international travel. Although things are moving at a slower in Canada with the advisory to avoid non-essential travel in place, many are viewing the changing policies on July 5 as a positive step in the right direction and for agents, it has certainly translated to a rise in inquiries and bookings. This week, Travel Courier caught up with several travel consultants to find out what’s selling well and what’s driving bookings.
Caribbean, Mexico, Europe, cruises, and bucket list trips are big
Business is looking good once again at Shine Travel with owner Pauline Blacoe successfully locking in over a dozen trips in the past few weeks.
“Bookings have been steady, mostly for Couples Resorts in Jamaica for me, as I am their #1 seller in Canada,” Blacoe tells Travel Courier. “I’ve also opened up a few cruise and river cruise groups for 2022/23 and bookings are steady for those as well. These are mostly Europe but a few in the Caribbean.”
Similarly, Tammy Prost, the owner of Regina, Sask.-based Tropical Escapes Destination Weddings and Travel, just booked two new destination wedding groups and six holiday packages.
“All are to Mexico, both the Pacific and Caribbean side, which is a fan favourite from our area with quick four to five hour direct flights,” she says, noting that in addition to the destination wedding groups, bookings have been for families as well as adults-only trips.
Meanwhile, Anne Barclay, the owner of Wanderlust Travel TPI in Oakville, Ont., is seeing a trend in travellers seeking memorable travel experiences coming out of the pandemic.
“I am booking a fair amount of Caribbean, Europe and Canada,” she says. “Families, friends and bucket list travel are what I am seeing.”
What’s driving bookings?
Laurie Keith, the owner of Boutique Travel Services based out of Hamilton, Ont., believes several factors are at play when it comes to driving the resurgence in bookings.
“It’s the basic human need for connection, and in this case, reconnection,” she explains. “We’ve been in isolation for far too long and travel is the very best way to bring us back together. Having something booked now also gives Canadians something to look forward to and to help them mentally get to the finish line of the pandemic. Cabin fever also has to play a role in the demand. For most of us, we’ve been stuck indoors, glued to the screen with zoom meetings or virtual learning with limited stimulation and activity. Travel re-engages people. It sparks their passions. It re-ignites their zest for life.”
Among her clientele, Prost says people are anxious to plan and book winter holidays now.
“Travellers are looking to the future,” she says. “They are fed up and want to have a life again, they want something to look forward to.”
People are booking further in advance
Although she’s had some requests for sunny destinations for Christmas, Claire Langan of Claire Langan Travel TPI in Moncton, New Brunswick, says the bulk of bookings right now are for 2022.
Similarly, Anita Gibeau, the owner of Kaleidoscope Travel based in Strathmore, Alberta, says the window is much wider, from six to 18 months out.
Meanwhile, Keith is expecting a flurry of last minute bookings for winter now that travel restrictions are officially easing up, but points out that up to this point Canadians were planning ahead.
“We have existing fall bookings that are still wanting to travel but it seems that the new bookings that are coming in are planning mostly for 2022 or 2023,” she says.