With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions and the loosening of PCR testing rules, travel agencies say they are overwhelmed with booking requests. A University of Guelph tourism management expert says it appears March Break will be just the beginning of Canadians returning to travel.
Dr. Statia Elliot is the director of U of G’s School of Hospitality, Food and Tourism Management in the Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics. She says the long and frustrating pandemic has taken its toll on some Canadians’ well-being and many are eager to travel again.
Tourism advocates and travellers have begun posting that it’s Time To Travel, building momentum throughout Canada, with the Tourism Industry Association of Canada using the hashtag #TimeToTravel.
There are several reasons behind the increased interest in travel, said Elliot.
“Canadians seem to have reached a tipping point,” she said. They’re fatigued from the length of the pandemic and frustrated by two years of missed vacations during which they’ve had time to reflect on what really matters.
“Travel is an emotionally charged activity, and it returns both physical and psychological benefits,” said Elliot.
So, with COVID-19 restrictions and concerns about Omicron easing, it’s not surprising an increasing number of Canadians are booking vacations for a reprieve from their current reality, she said. The eased restrictions improve perceptions of the safety of travelling both domestically and internationally, she added.
After more than two years, many people have gained enough experience with COVID-19 and have become less anxious about travel.
“These indications are that March Break is just the beginning of Canadians returning to travel,” said Elliot.
But before the Time to Travel begins, the tourism industry will need to receive clarity of timing and commitment on reopening from the government, she added.
“The uncertainty of when operations and travel can fully resume, and for how long, continues to challenge the industry’s ability to operate. It can’t just switch on and off like a light.”
The chair of the Ontario Tourism Education Corporation board of directors, Elliot studies international travel and tourism marketing, and she teaches hospitality and tourism, marketing and international tourism.
She is available for interviews.
Dr. Statia Elliot