These are just a few of the offers that travel agencies are offering Canadians to entice them to book now for an upcoming trip – once it is deemed safe to travel. But some travel experts are recommending Canadians refrain from making reservations now as the COVID-19 pandemic remains in effect and could still wreak havoc on upcoming vacation plans.
“My advice is to wait a little longer,” said Walter Rodrigues of the Bestway travel agency in Winnipeg. He highlights the recent increase in COVID-19 infections as a sign that the pandemic is far from over.
“Look at what’s going on in Alberta. It is only getting worse. “
Despite this, several travel providers are encouraging Canadians to close the deal now with the added protection of flexible change and cancellation policies.
People who book a Sunwing or Air Transat The vacation package this month for travel for a limited period will have what Air Transat calls “early bird benefits”. They include a $ 100 deposit (instead of $ 250), free trip changes, and a refund if they cancel at least 25 days before departure.
Air Canada Vacations offers similar offers, including a travel deposit of only $ 50 and a full refund if the airline cancels your flight because of COVID-19. In addition, customers can get up to 50% discount select destinations in Mexico, the Caribbean and the United States this summer – if they book by May 24.
“Tomorrow will be a vacation! ” Air Canada Vacations statements on its website.
“We need people to travel”
Tour operators are also trying to get Canadians on board. G Adventures, a small group tour operator based in Toronto, is offering 15% off select tours with booking dates as early as this summer.
“We need people to start traveling again, so we’re going to entice people through their wallets,” said Bruce Poon Tip, owner of G-Adventures. He said his visits include a flexible change policy if customers need to revamp their plans.
“Travel is finally coming back, but it’s a very fluid situation. ”
Currently, the federal government is advising against non-essential overseas travel due to the ongoing pandemic. On top of that, Ottawa has given no indication when it will end its requirement that travelers entering Canada take multiple COVID-19 tests and be quarantined for 14 days – some of which must be spent in a hotel. designated if you are an air passenger. .
However, there are signs of hope on the travel horizon. After attending a virtual meeting of G7 transport ministers on Wednesday, Canadian Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said he and his counterparts were determined to work together to eventually resume travel – with tools such as a vaccination passport.
“At the center of this effort must be a coordinated approach to testing and a common platform to recognize the vaccinated status of travelers,” mentionned Alghabra in a statement.
‘My name is on this date’
Rebecca Priestley, of Hubbards, Nova Scotia, expects international travel to take off by January. That’s because she’s already booked a 28-day tour of South Africa that month with G Adventures.
Priestley was scheduled to go on tour with the company last year, but it was canceled due to the pandemic. Although the pandemic is not over, the travel enthusiast has decided to take a chance and change her reservation.
“If people start to desperately want to travel again, at least my name is on that date,” she said. “I have something planned – even if the plans fall apart again. “
But many Canadians are not ready to take the plunge. CBC News spoke to several travel agents who said few customers at this point have booked vacations for the coming months.
Travel consultant Rodrigues said he had no reservations, only inquiries, and advised customers to wait until the pandemic subsides.
“You want to go to your destination and come home and I can’t guarantee that. “
Rodrigues said the flexible change and cancellation policies would not protect travelers if they are already at their destination and a sudden resurgence of COVID-19 cases triggers a lockdown and canceled flights.
” You will have [a] hard to get back, ”Rodrigues said. “Like everything else, the buyer is wary. “
What about travel insurance?
There is also the issue of travel insurance. Many travel insurance providers have restored medical coverage for illnesses related to COVID-19. But travel insurance broker Martin Firestone said it was currently impossible to get full COVID-19-related cancellation coverage because COVID-19 is now a known issue.
If travelers “choose to cancel because a [no-travel] a notice is put in place, or a country banned from visiting because of an outbreak, none of that will be covered at this point, ”said Firestone of Travel Secure in Toronto.
WATCH: Vaccine passports may be needed to travel abroad, the prime minister said:
Firestone acknowledges that some airlines offer flexible cancellation policies, but has stated that this offer may not apply to all of a traveler’s bookings, such as their accommodation or tours.
“It won’t earn you the $ 6,000 monthly condo rental fee and it won’t earn you the $ 20,000 bike trip.” [in] Italy. “
As for Priestley, she hopes that in January she can finally make her trip.
“If this continues, great. Otherwise, well, it’ll be canceled again and I’ll go somewhere when I can. “