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Phones 'going crazy' as travel industry starts to bounce back

Elayne Pink with Absolute Travel says there seems to be a lot of pent up demand to see family and friends, or escape the snow this winter
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One Halifax travel agent says her phones are "going crazy" as people look to book a trip for the first time in almost two years.

Elayne Pink with Absolute Travel says, with COVID-19 restrictions easing for those who are fully vaccinated and borders reopening, there seems to be a lot of pent up demand to see family and friends, or escape the snow this winter.

She told CityNews Halifax sunny spots are very popular right now, especially if they can be reached with a direct flight. As a result at her business, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Mexico are currently some of the most in-demand destinations.

She said masks are generally required in all indoor public areas of resorts and other COVID protocols are in place.

"For Cuba, all their workers on the resorts are vaccinated," she said. "They test you when you arrive into Cuba."

"And they are now offering PCR tests to come back to Canada for $30 or $40 per person, compared to the typical $200 test price, so they're doing everything they can to make sure you feel comfortable on your vacation."

All travellers returning to Canada are required to fill out the ArriveCAN app and present a negative molecular COVID-19 test that has been taken within the last 72 hours. Rapid antigen tests are not on the list of tests that are accepted.

"The testing is probably the hardest part because, as I said, it tends to be about $200 a person, so it's definitely an add-on to the price," Pink explained. "But I think you're going to see, as the next few months go on, there's going to be even more additional incentives to get people to feel they can travel comfortably."

The cruise industry is also bouncing back, but if you book a sailing, you might be tested daily for COVID-19 and expect some flexibility with the ports of call based on the regulations at each destination.

"Some ports of call don't want visitors to come in," she explained. "We did have a cruise line that announced parts of their itineraries are going to be revised."

Pink said if that happens, generally the passengers will be offered a refund if they don't like the changes.

She said many of her customers are also heading to Europe, but it can be difficult to navigate alone right now for anyone planning to squeeze in multiple countries, because each country and airline has its own COVID regulations.

Flights heading to the U.S. are also full, and Pink said more direct destinations will be coming to Halifax's airport in the coming months.

A negative test is required for entry, but rapid antigen tests, which are more affordable than PCR tests, are accepted and the American border. 

A lot of patience in general is required for travellers right now as COVID-related rules and regulations could change at any time.

Pink said, if this happens to you, most travel insurance policies will have you covered, just make sure you read the fine print.

"If you have a cancel-for-any-reason component in there, it allows you to, up to eight days before, cancel for any reason and get your money back," she stated.

"Any they've come out with a COVID insurance policy which is economical, it runs about $40 a person, and that allows you to feel that you've got COVID medical coverage at your destination if God forbid you did get COVID while you were away."

Pink said most tourism operators are still offering up a lot of options for last minute changes due to the unpredictability of travelling during the pandemic.

"The whole industry has kind of come together to say, you know what, we need to make sure people feel safe going, and if something changes last minute, the flexibility is there."



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Meghan Groff

About the Author: Meghan Groff

Born in Michigan, raised in Ontario, schooled in Indiana and lives in Nova Scotia; Meghan is the editor for CityNews Halifax.
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