As travel opens up, the province is gearing up for a much-needed tourism boom when the time comes.
Easing restrictions means many are getting back to vacations, according to one travel agent in Saskatoon.
“That really jump-started bookings again and travel again,” said Jamie Milton of UNIGLOBE travel Western Canada.
“We’re probably as busy now as we typically are at this time of year, if not more.”
Milton said the prospect of quarantining after a trip had many leaving their suitcases in their closets.
“Nobody wanted to do that. A lot of times people couldn’t get an extra 14 days off of work if they needed to take vacation time, so it was a big deterrent,” she said.
International visitors also play a big part in Saskatchewan’s tourism industry, according to experts in the field, and while the border between the United States and Canada remains closed until at least July 21, there is optimism as restrictions lift.
“Having these international borders open is key, is just absolutely key for our survival and any move that we make to getting those borders open and relaxing restrictions is really important for us here in Saskatchewan,” said Saskatchewan Hotel and Hospitality Association president Jim Bence.
Tourism Saskatchewan said after conducting its own surveys in the province, people were more comfortable hosting visitors closer to home.
“If it’s Saskatchewan residents, they’re very comfortable. If it’s from elsewhere in Canada, (they are a) little less comfortable but still pretty comfortable. From the United States still a little less comfortable yet, and overseas a little less comfortable yet,” said CEO Jonathan Potts.
Potts said northern outfitters such as fishing camps are very popular with out-of-country tourists. Another area that brings business to Regina and Saskatoon are business conferences and trips, which won’t bounce back as quickly.
“We will likely see a number of hybridized modelling in terms of business events which will affect the demand for hotel rooms and so forth,” Potts said.
Meanwhile, travel agents like Milton advise people planning to travel to book their winter trips early, as many in the United States and other countries have already booked trips.