Are you traveling this winter? Industry expects demand to go ‘through the roof’

Travel agents are predicting a busy season to come, saying Canadians are ready to visit the best sunny destinations after winters of COVID-19 restrictions have kept many at home.

And while airfares have remained stable so far, experts expect a sharp rise in airfares in the fall and winter as demand returns.

They said demand could rise further if remaining coronavirus restrictions such as vaccine mandates are lifted, encouraging travelers who were previously reluctant to travel due to restrictions.

Martin Firestone, president of Travel Secure Inc.

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Firestone said the potential influx of travelers could cause frequent delays and disruptions.

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Flight disruptions and widespread chaos at airports this summer are often due to understaffing everywhere from border guards to flight attendants.

This has resulted in some airlines stepping up their efforts to attract and retain employees to meet expected demand.

With passenger demand starting to approach pre-pandemic levels, the question is whether airline staffing numbers are adequate.

“The problem is that a lot of people haven’t been back in the industry,” Firestone said. “You just don’t press a button and suddenly you find pilots.”

Other experts agree that it is difficult to plan for an increase in the number of passengers since the pandemic began. This is because there is a higher percentage of last-minute travel than the industry is used to, said Sandra Webber, director of communications, content and social media strategy at Travel Brands.

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Without the usual six-month lead time, she said, it would be difficult to hire additional staff when needed.

“It affected a little bit of everything because it’s more of a challenge deciding when travelers book their flight in each season,” Weber said.

Flights and hotels are priced based on availability and with winter flights to sunny destinations filling up, travelers hoping to get a good deal on flights are recommended to book in advance to avoid price hikes.

Webber said that despite this, Canadians seem willing to pay a hefty price as booking trends reveal that people are spending more on their trips.

© 2022 Canadian Press

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