Do you dream of spending the March holidays abroad? Here are some risks to consider

If the call of European beaches or cafes becomes too strong to resist, one travel expert suggests planning ahead is essential to prevent your trip from becoming a logistical nightmare.

Martin Taller is a professor in the Tourism and Travel program at Algonquin College and owned a travel agency for 28 years.

The travel and hospitality industries began rehiring at the end of 2021, Taller said – although that came to a halt when the Omicron variant surged and forced stricter public health measures, including an advisory. from the Canadian government to avoid non-essential travel.

However, Statistics Canada totaled 742,417 Canadian air passenger arrivals back from abroad in December.

Taller said it’s not necessarily a bad time to travel, with people pointing out that “beaches and hotels can be 30% or 40% of potential occupancy”.

With off-season rates and near-deserted tourist spots likely to continue for another six months to a year, Taller said it’s understandable that travelers may feel they can’t deprive themselves any longer — but with COVID-19, it’s there are a lot more logistics to consider than there used to be.

Tourism struggles

Health concerns aside, getting around once you’ve arrived can be more difficult, especially if you’re considering a European destination, Taller said.

Attractions may have mask-wearing rules or shorter opening hours, so he suggests checking what you can do once you arrive.

While time at the beach seems like a reasonably safe bet, Taller says the risk of being stuck on that beach longer than expected can be enough to keep people from planning a trip.

“Things are much more stable when you leave, but when you get home things have changed and you want to make sure you have access to the most up-to-date information,” he said.

Snowbirds going for months at a time should stay aware of changing COVID-19 requirements, he added. There is also a risk for those with tight deadlines, such as the need to get the kids back to school before the end of March Break.

For those with a big deadline like getting the kids back to school by the end of March Break, there is a risk that someone will test positive and not be allowed to fly back to the Canada,” Taller said. (Lake Sylvan Tourism)

To enter Canada, air passengers must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure. If a traveler tests positive, they must wait at least 11 days before boarding a return flight.

“Choose a destination [where] you can easily and comfortably do your tests so you can go home,” advised Taller.

Other delays could also arise, as Canada’s major airlines have canceled flights because so many crew members have contracted COVID-19 or are in isolation.

Will the insurance cover you?

Buying travel insurance has always required people to consider things like pre-existing health conditions or the need for a trip cancellation policy.

Taller says there are policies you can buy that will cover expenses related to contracting COVID-19, including travel disruption — but many won’t.

“Florida is a favorite destination for Eastern Canadians. And Florida is one of those states where it’s much less restrictive in terms of entry,” he said.

“But the question is – if God forbid you get sick – do you need or should you have travel insurance?”

A healthcare worker performs a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) COVID-19 test on a traveler in South Africa late last year. People wishing to fly to Canada must have had a negative PCR test within 72 hours of boarding. (Phill Magakoa/AFP/Getty Images)

He says to carefully review the exclusions written into a policy because being hit with a hospital bill outside of Canada can be extremely expensive.

Another consideration is what constitutes a valid reason for trip cancellation. Some Ottawa travelers found that although they were covered if they contracted COVID-19, their cancellation insurance did not kick in when they chose to follow government advice and cancel their plans preventively.

Taller also warned that travel companies may ask you to sign a waiver absolving them of any liability should anything go wrong, particularly if you are not vaccinated or follow public health measures.

Most companies, including airlines, have forgiven rebooking in these strange times, he said.

“It’s one of those industries that wants to encourage people to travel when they can, rather than forcing them to travel,” he said.

“I think it’s really important to know that the industry itself survives on goodwill.”

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