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You certainly won’t find any travel agents shedding a nostalgic tear after Omicron has long faded away.
Last fall’s growing belief that the travel industry was seeing a major rebound has been in some cases been replaced with a growing sense of gloom as Omicron is dealing a body blow to much of the industry, leading to lost travel agency revenues and added frustrations.
Allana Haines of Toronto-area agency Creative Travel & Tours says the latest coronavirus variant has seriously unnerved her clients.
“The possibility of being stuck in destination has put clients in panic mode,” she reports. “We’ve been inundated with phone calls; it’s the ‘what ifs’ — what if I get stuck in destination? What if my flight is cancelled? I have wedding groups asking if they should postpone… again. Add to this the hold times with the tour operators while we try to seek answers, sometimes upwards of eight hours (all unpaid time). Unfortunately, clients are choosing to cancel and get full refunds (if they purchased the appropriate insurance package) but our commissions are not protected so the financial impact is devastating. The ever-changing rules have a huge impact on clients — no one has the confidence to book and travel now in case things change while they’re away.”
Haines says it’s tough to remain upbeat given recent developments.
“As an agent, it’s getting harder to stay motivated,” she states. “Just when we think things might be getting better, we’re slapped with another restriction. All we can do is think positive that it will get better and hope we can hang on until it does. I’m using my time wisely by educating myself on destination/property updates and new regulations for entry. I continue to post on my social media accounts to keep my name in the forefront of my clients’ minds and give them ideas for when they feel better about traveling.”
Roger Boyadjian of Toronto’s Sevan Travel says he has clients who’d love to travel but are reluctant to do so.
“Like most of us, our customers are confused and depressed with the unending variants of Covid-19,” he says. “It seems to me with every positive step we take, we end up taking three steps backwards with this pandemic.
“We do have clients who are anxious to travel but we cannot keep up with the way the variants keep affecting the travel trade.”
Boyadjian’s agency was to send a group of 24 to the island of Antigua next month, only to see that cancelled as the travel industry struggles with Omicron.
“In these pandemic times, we cannot predict what happens day to day,” Boyadjian continues.
Monica Millin of La Dolce Vita Travel in Vancouver has clients willing to travel, provided air service to their destinations is available.
“I don’t have many clients heading south,” she reports. “My niche is Italy/Europe. Those that are booked did contact me but so far no one has cancelled. As long as the flights are going, my clients will be on them. Now if flights get cancelled, that’s another issue altogether.
“Fingers crossed that Omicron will disappear as quickly as it appeared.”
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