A Steinbach travel agent says after spending the last two spring breaks at home, many Manitobans are done with the pandemic and are ready to travel again.
Deborah Schroeder works for South East Travel. Schroeder says she’s been busy booking lots of spring break trips. And, it looks like a few sunny destinations are the popular choice this year.
“Mexico has been a hot spot because they don’t have any entry requirements other than a valid passport,” Schroeder says. “It’s like a no-brainer.”
Schroeder says that due to direct flight options, Cancun and Puerto Vallarta are hot sellers for spring break, but notes that Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica are also selling out.
In mid-February, the federal government announced that unvaccinated children traveling with vaccinated adults coming to Canada will no longer have to self-isolate from school or daycare for 14 days. Schroeder says in all honesty that this announcement didn’t send a wave of travelers into his office looking to suddenly book a trip.
“This news came a little too late,” she says, noting that at the time of this change, the parents had already decided it was time to book a flight to somewhere warm and sandy.
Travelers are also looking ahead and booking trips for next year. Schroeder says cruises for 2023 have sold well, while air travel and international tours are also taken.
“Christmas is going well for this upcoming Christmas because airspace is limited to certain months in advance only,” she explains. “So the forecast looks busy.”
One trend she’s noticed over the past two weeks is the cancellation of trips to Ukraine and Russia because of the war. Schroeder adds that the closure of the port of Saint Petersburg also has a significant impact on the cruise industry. That said, she says most other European destinations are still a choice for travelers.
Summing up the past two years for his industry, Schroeder says there has never been a dull moment. Yes, there were challenges and yes there were obstacles, but Schroeder says it was a rewarding time spent with great people.
According to Schroeder, as of March 2020, his office was working 12-hour days to book flights that had been canceled. Then things got very slow until about June when business started picking up.
“We definitely found that leisure travel recovered much faster than business travel,” notes Schroeder.
She says that after a few slow months, they have noticed a huge increase in international travel, especially because Europe has opened up very quickly with limited flights. Added to this was the interest in humanitarian travel to Africa. By fall 2020, most countries in South America had reopened. Schroeder notes that travel to Africa and South America hasn’t slowed since September 2020.
Meanwhile, Schroeder says before March 2020, many travelers felt empowered to take care of themselves. But what they realized this spring is how unmanageable things have become following flights changing and being cancelled. They then quickly learned the hard way that there was no one to help them.
“The general public does not have access to the appropriate tools,” Schroeder points out. “And unfortunately they had to try to reach a supplier or an airline and were put on hold for x hours.”
Schroeder says that since March 2020, South East Travel has continued to welcome new customers and look after existing customers as they manage staff shortages.
“We just work long days and we want to especially thank our local people,” adds Schroeder.