5 things about international travel that will probably never be the same

Across the border, Americans are speeding through their vaccination process and gearing up to be able to travel internationally once again. Meanwhile, Canadians are on standby for when they too can dust off their passports. The Star spoke with two experts about what to expect about the future of travel. Vaccination passports Though managers and executives across Canada are deeply divided on the idea of using vaccine passports or immunization certificates to allow some Canadians more access sooner to businesses and workplaces, these passports could be a way forward for the travel industry, says Will McAleer, executive director at Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada.“(Countries) simply aren’t going to be able to take the risk that they’re letting in people who perhaps haven’t had the vaccination,” said McAleer, adding a vaccination passport is a “natural move” for governments to take in order to protect their population.“If you’re coming in (to a country) and you’re not vaccinated, you’re putting their entire economy at risk. That would present a fairly compelling argument that you’d want (travellers) to have some proof that they were vaccinated before coming in.”Travel insurance will become “top of mind”Early in the pandemic, many travellers were left in difficult positions as a result of trip cancellations and travel bans. Many airlines and hotels were left to waive their fees and some customers had to swallow the cost of a trip they never took. Because of this, McAleer says that insurance products will definitely become “top of mind.”“There’s a lot of people that really understand that there’s a pretty large need for (insurance) because of what’s happened,” said McAleer. “And as a result not only are you going to see greater knowledge and uptake (in insurance), but I think you’re also going to see coverage enhancements to ... match what we’ve gone through over a year now.” Richard Smart, CEO of the Travel Industry Council of Ontario, agrees that insurance will definitely be a priority as there’s a concern about what happens should someone contract COVID-19 in another country. He says that because of this travellers will be forced to rethink the sort of coverage they settled for in the past. “The general view was insurance was expensive and many consumers would say well ‘I’m covered on my credit card, or through my company,’ ” said Smart. “There’s too much reliance on insurance plans that are not providing the full coverage.”The travel agency experienceSmart says that the supply chain will be shifted when it comes to travel and there will be a strong reliance on the people who are planning trips for travellers. He says that regardless of where travellers are going to, there will be an extreme importance of “knowing what the rules are and what the norms are. Are excursions open? Are they closed? Are there restrictions? Are there additional costs involved?” Smart adds that some consumers could be savvy enough to research that information online themselves, but it’s unmatched to the service of agencies, he said, not to mention sometimes it’s not factual. Smart says the travel industry has moved from a transaction-oriented business to one where agencies are really focused on the consumer experience and that’s only going to continue in the future. “That experience from end-to-end, from the time you leave your home, going through the airport, getting on the cruise ship, getting to the destination and vice versa coming back, in a post-pandemic environment it’s all changed so much that ... travel professionals (are) all about servicing that experience.” Masks, sanitization, handwashing and physical distancingDespite the regular hygiene procedures that travellers take, the rigorous requirements that have been enforced with COVID-19 is something that has become the norm. McAleer predicts masks and constant hand sanitizing will continue for much longer, both domestically and internationally. McAleer says that as much as we’d like to get past the precautionary requirements for avoiding COVD-19, the virus is going to linger around, especially while other less-developed countries catch up. “Some of (the countries) which Canadians like to travel to a great deal are going to lag significantly, and as a result, even if you’re vaccinated, you still want to take the precautions,” said McAleer.Limited destinations, higher travel pricesWith the expected high demand in travel, McAleer says Canadians should prepare for higher costs due to “limited inventory.”“The vaccines haven’t reached some of those destinations, and (the virus) is really not under control,” said McAleer. “As a result, you’re kind of limited in terms of where you might be able to go so higher costs are likely to result.”McAleer says this could look like “extra premium” packages that include trip cancellation policies as add-ons. He says this is a response to the beginning of the pandemic when amid the panic over the rapid spread of COVID-19, “there we

5 things about international travel that will probably never be the same

Across the border, Americans are speeding through their vaccination process and gearing up to be able to travel internationally once again. Meanwhile, Canadians are on standby for when they too can dust off their passports.

The Star spoke with two experts about what to expect about the future of travel.

Vaccination passports

Though managers and executives across Canada are deeply divided on the idea of using vaccine passports or immunization certificates to allow some Canadians more access sooner to businesses and workplaces, these passports could be a way forward for the travel industry, says Will McAleer, executive director at Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada.

“(Countries) simply aren’t going to be able to take the risk that they’re letting in people who perhaps haven’t had the vaccination,” said McAleer, adding a vaccination passport is a “natural move” for governments to take in order to protect their population.

“If you’re coming in (to a country) and you’re not vaccinated, you’re putting their entire economy at risk. That would present a fairly compelling argument that you’d want (travellers) to have some proof that they were vaccinated before coming in.”

Travel insurance will become “top of mind”

Early in the pandemic, many travellers were left in difficult positions as a result of trip cancellations and travel bans. Many airlines and hotels were left to waive their fees and some customers had to swallow the cost of a trip they never took. Because of this, McAleer says that insurance products will definitely become “top of mind.”

“There’s a lot of people that really understand that there’s a pretty large need for (insurance) because of what’s happened,” said McAleer. “And as a result not only are you going to see greater knowledge and uptake (in insurance), but I think you’re also going to see coverage enhancements to ... match what we’ve gone through over a year now.”

Richard Smart, CEO of the Travel Industry Council of Ontario, agrees that insurance will definitely be a priority as there’s a concern about what happens should someone contract COVID-19 in another country. He says that because of this travellers will be forced to rethink the sort of coverage they settled for in the past.

“The general view was insurance was expensive and many consumers would say well ‘I’m covered on my credit card, or through my company,’ ” said Smart. “There’s too much reliance on insurance plans that are not providing the full coverage.”

The travel agency experience

Smart says that the supply chain will be shifted when it comes to travel and there will be a strong reliance on the people who are planning trips for travellers.

He says that regardless of where travellers are going to, there will be an extreme importance of “knowing what the rules are and what the norms are. Are excursions open? Are they closed? Are there restrictions? Are there additional costs involved?”

Smart adds that some consumers could be savvy enough to research that information online themselves, but it’s unmatched to the service of agencies, he said, not to mention sometimes it’s not factual.

Smart says the travel industry has moved from a transaction-oriented business to one where agencies are really focused on the consumer experience and that’s only going to continue in the future.

“That experience from end-to-end, from the time you leave your home, going through the airport, getting on the cruise ship, getting to the destination and vice versa coming back, in a post-pandemic environment it’s all changed so much that ... travel professionals (are) all about servicing that experience.”

Masks, sanitization, handwashing and physical distancing

Despite the regular hygiene procedures that travellers take, the rigorous requirements that have been enforced with COVID-19 is something that has become the norm. McAleer predicts masks and constant hand sanitizing will continue for much longer, both domestically and internationally.

McAleer says that as much as we’d like to get past the precautionary requirements for avoiding COVD-19, the virus is going to linger around, especially while other less-developed countries catch up.

“Some of (the countries) which Canadians like to travel to a great deal are going to lag significantly, and as a result, even if you’re vaccinated, you still want to take the precautions,” said McAleer.

Limited destinations, higher travel prices

With the expected high demand in travel, McAleer says Canadians should prepare for higher costs due to “limited inventory.”

“The vaccines haven’t reached some of those destinations, and (the virus) is really not under control,” said McAleer. “As a result, you’re kind of limited in terms of where you might be able to go so higher costs are likely to result.”

McAleer says this could look like “extra premium” packages that include trip cancellation policies as add-ons. He says this is a response to the beginning of the pandemic when amid the panic over the rapid spread of COVID-19, “there were a lot of people wanting to make sure that they could purchase a trip cancellation policy that would cover them if they just wanted to completely change their mind.”

Danica Samuel is a Toronto-based staff reporter for the Star. Reach her via email: dsamuel@thestar.ca or follow her on Twitter: @danicasamuel

Source : Toronto Star More