Central Albertans not making new travel plans due to coronavirus despite low prices

Central Alberta travellers are preparing themselves for any upcoming travel plans they have with the ongoing coronavirus.

They’re also not keen on making new plans despite low prices.

Mary Atcheson, a home-based travel consultant with Travel VIP in central Alberta, said she has been busy for the last three weeks, because people are calling with questions in their pursuit to be prepared.

“People are just a bit nervous going. They’ll go to Mexico, they’ll go to Cuba, but they’re basically not going anywhere else,” she said Wednesday.

Atcheson said she sells all kinds of travel plans around the world, including U.S. and Australia as well as hotels and car rentals. Her best seller is, however, all inclusive packages down south including Cuba, Mexico and Dominican Republic and she caters to people between 18 and 65.

“Most of the calls are the ones who are booked and they’re worried about what’ll happen once they’re at their destination if something goes sideways there,” she explained.

Despite the low prices, Atcheson isn’t getting too many calls about new travel. She said prices are at the lowest she has seen in the past five years and COVID-19 is affecting travel consultants such as herself, the hotel industry, airlines and the travel industry in general.

“(People are not taking advantage of the low prices) right now. Not for the last three weeks,” she said.

On the Advocate Facebook page, about eight people have commented that they won’t be cancelling their upcoming trips in April, May and August.

One user said she is leaving for Cancun in April and will not be cancelling her trip. Another user said he is off to Peru this Sunday, but is concerned having to pass through the Toronto Pearson International Airport on the way there.

Another user said she booked a family trip in November for July. Now the family isn’t sure about the plan. “Haven’t cancelled yet because we did not buy cancellation insurance,” she added.

A smaller group commented they will be cancelling their upcoming travel plans.

“I was supposed to go to Thailand and coach team Canada, WKA (World Kickboxing and Karate Association) indefinitely postponed event,” said one Facebook user.

Some speak about staying at home and letting the virus pass.

At least two people are planning to continue on with their cruise ship plans they have booked already.

The latest announcement by the Canadian government came Monday when it recommended its citizens avoid all cruise travel.

Atcheson leaves the final decisions to her clients, but is strongly advising them to avoid cruise ships until further notice.

For those who plan to travel, Atcheson advises them to check out government travel websites, flight websites to have all the up-to-date information.

As for those looking to book or cancel, Atcheson asks they read the fine print of their travel and health insurance plan.

“I have people (down south) right now, I have people who left yesterday (Tuesday) and people leaving tomorrow (Thursday), but they’ve all got their travel insurance and their health, but that’s not saying it’s all going to be perfect, but they’re prepared and covered, and we strongly advice insurance, you have to really read the fine print in your insurance.”

For her clients, Atcheson keeps herself informed on the latest and accurate information to be able to assist them if need be.

As for when the virus and the panic around it will die down, and the travel industry will be back to normal, including the travel consultant’s business, Atcheson said she hopes it’ll be around fall or winter later this year.


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