Neighbors heading to Lisbon, friends on vacation in Hawaii, a nephew on his way to Mexico… If you get the impression that a lot of your loved ones are packing their bags, you’re probably not wrong. After more than two years of pandemic and forced sedation, many Quebecers have rediscovered the desire to go abroad. For some, the urge is stronger than ever.
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Gitane Charron, director of the Jesuisvoyageur travel agency, clearly states this enthusiasm. Especially since Canada announced the end of mandatory testing for returning to the country. “It’s incredible. We’re busier than we were in 2019, says the travel consultant specializing in experience and luxury stays. We’re breaking records and seeing a big return to agency services.”
The same excitement can be felt at Flytrippers, a website that identifies cheap airline tickets and publishes tips for cheap travel. “We’ve been getting about 1,000 messages a week for a while now. It’s the tests imposed upon returning to Canada that have been hampering travelers for a year,” says site co-founder Andrew D’Amours.
NOT YET LIKE 2019 BUT…
Although readings are still a long way from 2019 – and the pandemic and global situation remain volatile – aviation data also suggests a recovery is underway.
More specifically, according to preliminary data from Aéroports de Montréal, the number of passengers at Pierre-Elliot-Trudeau airport for the month of April 2022 is around 70% of the 2019 level, indicating a warmer than expected summer.
For the first quarter of 2022, the 2.2 million registered passengers were just under half the traffic recorded in the same period in pre-pandemic 2019. On the other hand, if we compare with the same period in 2021, we are talking about four times more travelers.
CATCH UP TIME
According to Nicolas Ryan, director of public affairs at CAA-Quebec, two trends are emerging among travelers ready to set sail again. There are the travelers who prefer local stays and there are the travelers who want to realize their big dream. “This one says to himself, ‘I’ve stolen myself for two years, next time I’ll spoil myself twice as much’.”
Marketers speak of “revenge tourism” (“revenge trip‘) to describe this desire to make up for lost time and travel the world while it is possible.
Gitane Charron from Jesuisvoyageur observes this phenomenon well with her clients. “It’s so touchable! She says. People have saved their money, they have a little bit more budget to leave, they want to go a little bit longer. And they want to tick boxes bucket list.”
“It’s like people stopped taking it for granted that they can travel whenever they want. It’s happening now.”
In recent months, many countries have relaxed their entry requirements. The “dream destinations” are in the sights of many customers at Jesuisvoyageur.
“Hawaii, the Galapagos Islands, African Safaris; These are the requests we are receiving at the moment,” notes Gitane Charron.
Europe is also popular with those going abroad this summer, notes Flytrippers’ Andrew D’Amours. “There are many flights, they are relatively not too expensive compared to other destinations, and the restrictions are almost completely lifted,” he analyzes.
According to the CAA Quebec Travel Intentions Report, most Quebecers will continue to vacation in the province (45%) or elsewhere in Canada (11%), which was also the case before the pandemic. Those who intend to leave the country soon prefer the United States (10%) and Europe (5%), mainly France, Italy and Spain.
More expensive plane tickets
According to experts, the prices of air tickets are increasing, especially for air tickets. But the higher prices don’t hold the most impatient travelers back.
“We notice that the plane costs a little more,” confirms Nicolas Ryan of CAA-Quebec. On the other hand, it is noticeable that travel budgets are also higher this year.
Flytrippers co-founder Andrew D’Amours says it’s always possible to find great flight deals, at least to certain regions of the world.
“If we’re flexible, either on the date or the destination, we can be that good Offers airline tickets than before. If not, maybe it’s more expensive now. But bargains, there will always be some.
106 – The number of destinations served from Pierre-Elliot-Trudeau Airport (YUL) in March 2022, a record since the pandemic began.
131 – The number of destinations served by YUL in 2019 before the pandemic.
*47.9% – The percentage of passenger air traffic at Pierre-Elliot-Trudeau airport recorded in the first quarter of 2022 (2.2m) compared to the same period in 2019 (4.7m).
70% – The percentage of air traffic in April 2022 compared to that of 2019, according to preliminary data from Aéroports de Montréal.
*1.2 million – The number of Canadian residents who returned from traveling to the United States through one of the country’s land border crossings using an automated system in April 2022. This is 1 million more people than in April 2021, but 55.8% of April 2019 overall.
67% – According to CAA-Quebec’s annual vacation intentions survey, released June 1, 67% of Quebecers plan to travel this summer, and 15% of them plan to do so by plane. A total that approaches the 19% observed in 2019 and is 10 points more than the previous year.
Relieved and feverish travelers
More and more travelers from Quebec are returning to Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau Airport.
Adding to the pleasure of being able to travel again is a new excitement: a mixture of happiness and the mild stress of returning to a more ‘normal’ life where leisure travel is allowed again.
“We’re excited, we can’t wait, we’re happy,” said Danik Di Tamasso, Alexandre Nadeau and Étienne Forget, a trio of 24-year-old young men from Joliette who are about to fly to Cuba. “The restrictions are lifted, summer is coming, the price was good; We thought it would be a good time to go. Travelers with who The newspaper discussed are inhabited by the same emotion: This first journey in a long time is a step towards regained freedom. This is the case of Violeta Osievschii and her family, who can finally take the children to Disneyland in Paris and then reunite with their family in Moldova. “We are happy to be able to travel as a family again,” she says.
During our visit, travelers circulate around the site with ease. At the counters of the company Sunwing, travelers form a line that moves quickly. The same before the security passage leading to the boarding gates of international destinations.
At Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau Airport, surprisingly for many, wearing a mask remains mandatory. Travelers must therefore be masked until they arrive at their destination and also throughout the flight.
Despite the veiled faces, we can glimpse the smiles mingling in the sparkling eyes of those who are about to fly away. The resumption of travel takes place: There are four times more departures than last year at the same time. On the other hand, we have not yet found the same values as before the pandemic.
A GLOBAL RECOVERY STARTS WELL
According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), in the months of January to March 2022, international tourism is 61% of the 2019 level with 117 million international arrivals.
Overall, Europe is leading the recovery, closely followed by America. The Caribbean and southern Mediterranean Europe are recovering the fastest. Arrivals there have recovered to almost 75% of 2019 levels. In some cases, tourism is at or even above pre-pandemic levels.
At the other end of the spectrum is Asia Pacific. January-March 2022 figures were 93% below 2019 figures, despite a 64% increase in international arrivals compared to 2021.
UNWTO expects international tourist arrivals this year to reach 55% to 70% of 2019 levels, factoring in the uncertainty caused by the war in Ukraine and the pandemic. A more optimistic estimate than expected.
RESTRICTIONS STILL APPLY
- As of Monday, Canadian travelers will no longer need to be vaccinated to board a plane in Canada. However, on their return, they will have to undergo a pre-flight test, as well as upon arrival, and self-quarantine.
- It is mandatory to fill out the ArriveCAN application to return to the country.
- Each travel destination has its own entry requirements. They may vary depending on vaccination status. For example, the United States does not accept unvaccinated international travelers. However, since June 12, 2022, it is no longer necessary to present an antigen test when traveling by plane if you are vaccinated.
- At least 45 countries around the world have all lifted their travel restrictions. This applies to the UK, Italy, Greece, Austria and Belgium.
* INFORMATION VALID AS OF JUNE 16, 2022
SOME ADVICE FOR TRAVELERS
- Don’t wait until the last minute to renew your passport as Passport Canada is currently experiencing long delays.
- Book early to take advantage of the choice and low prices.
- Take out adequate insurance and carefully review the conditions for changing and canceling your trip.
- Arrive at the airport early to avoid waiting.