‘Ringing off the hook’: Atlantic Canada travel agency fielding surge in bookings

Click to play video: 'Travel agents report being busy as COVID-19 border restrictions ease'
Travel agents report being busy as COVID-19 border restrictions ease
WATCH: Atlantic Canada travel agency says phones are "ringing off the hook" as travel confidence rebuilds. – Nov 8, 2021

Travel agencies in Atlantic Canada say pent-up travel demand is fuelling bookings now that people are starting to feel safe enough to venture beyond their backyards.

“CAA’s phones have been ringing off the hook. Our members have been very interested in booking future travel for the last 18 months,” said Steve Olmstead, CAA Atlantic’s public affairs director.

Olmstead says travel confidence is being rebuilt through policies that encourage safety, like requiring proof of full vaccination to fly in Canada.

“People getting vaccinated, easing restrictions for non-essential travel, every one of those steps has had a psychological impact on all of us saying, ‘I might not be quite ready to go but this is feeling like it’s going in the right direction,'” he said.

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Click to play video: 'Canada-U.S. land border reopens after almost two years'
Canada-U.S. land border reopens after almost two years

The increase in bookings is welcome news to the front lines of Halifax Stanfield International Airport, where passenger traffic is at 40 per cent of its total capacity.

“We’re very excited to see some of our airline partners reintroducing direct services to southern destinations,” said Tiffany Chase, the public affairs director for the Halifax International Airport Authority.

Chase says direct flights to Cancun, Mexico, will begin later this month, followed by direct services to Flordia and other Caribbean destinations.

“Right now the province of Nova Scotia still has the requirement that everyone entering Nova Scotia must complete the Nova Scotia Safe Check-in Form, and so that process is still in place here. What’s also great is that they still have the take-home tests that are available for anyone who is coming into the province,” she said.

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Chase says requiring proof of full vaccination in order to fly is also helping reinstill confidence in air travel.

“There is an exception for those who are in the process of becoming vaccinated that they can also provide a negative molecular test instead, but after Nov. 30 you will need to be fully vaccinated to travel by air in Canada,” she said.

The United States border is now open to Canadians but travellers returning to Canada still need to provide a negative PCR test, regardless of their vaccination status.

“We are looking at these requirements quite carefully. As the COVID situation remains volatile, officials and experts will continue to evaluate the measures in place, and make necessary adjustments as required,” said Andrew MacKendrick, a spokesperson for Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, in a statement emailed to Global News on Monday.

Restrictions such as this are why Olmstead urges people to do their due diligence before they hit the road.

“Have a plan before you go and then be prepared to alter your plan if conditions change,” he said.

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