According to a news release dated February 15, 2022, the Government of Canada lightened their border measures based on recent data indicating the latest wave of the COVID-19 Omicron variant has passed it’s peak in the region. Canada’s high vaccination rates and increased access to rapid testing could be credited to the decrease in cases in the area.
As border restrictions ease, so begins the phasing to open the country to its eager travelers, and their even more eager travel industry. Easing restrictions means comprehensive steps laid out for families, business people, and leisure travelers who wish to enter the country. This is a relief to local businesses who rely on tourism-related activity, such as restaurants, hotels, and recreation activities.
Beginning February 28, 2022, on-arrival testing for fully vaccinated travelers will face random selection for testing instead of requiring this step for everyone. Selected travelers will not be required to quarantine while awaiting their test result. Unvaccinated travelers will be required to test on arrival and quarantine for 14 days. Travelers who require testing will be allowed to test using a state-approved rapid antigen test taken the day prior to traveling or the day of arrival, which is a more convenient test than the PCR test.
One step that has travel-related businesses relieved is the change of travel recommendations for travelers by the Government of Canada. Canada adjusted its Travel Health Notice from a Level 3 to a Level 2, meaning they no longer hold their recommendation for avoiding non-essential travel.
Even before these restrictions have eased, tourism spending in Canada rose in the third quarter following a 3.3% increase from the previous quarter. Tourism’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employment attributable to tourism rose by 17.9% in the third quarter (Source). With restrictions easing and the removal of travel barriers, those who look toward the future are anticipating a boom in travel to Canada. While this is great news and a relief to many, it also means difficulties for those who wish to travel to the country.
What Ease-of-Restrictions Means for Canada
Kareem Dus, CEO of Favisbook, relies on travel and tourism to keep his business afloat. While he, like many other small-business owners, came close to shutting his doors during the pandemic, Dus was able to keep going by seeing how the needs of his clients have shifted when it comes to travel. As one of the first businesses to offer discounts to vaccinated travelers, Dus is eager to see the end of the pandemic and travel restrictions alike. His New York-based company helps travelers schedule visa appointments on short notice, which is a relief for those needing assistance dealing with consulates. As he meets the travelers’ ever-shifting needs through this pandemic, visa appointments are now one of many services Dus’s company provides.
Travel restrictions aren’t the only thing affecting the tourism industry. One significant hindrance of travel that will remain past these pesky COVID mitigations is the lack of travel documents being processed or approved on time. Regardless of industry, lines are longer and wait times are higher. Businesses are facing price increases, and aim to save money by cutting staff and decreasing budgets. Individuals are already noticing overall inefficiencies through longer wait times. The world-wide staffing shortage affects everyone, and the travel and tourism industry are not immune to these challenges as a result of COVID-19.
There’s one downside to Canada’s decreasing restrictions. While barriers to travel may have eased, the rules and regulations have only increased. Different rules apply to different travelers, depending on things such as vaccination status. Increased rules and regulations mixed with the aforementioned business inefficiencies means increased frustration for all travelers alike.
Traveling internationally already comes with a long list of to-dos, required documents, short time-frames, and vaccination passports (these were required even pre-COVID, depending on destination). The Government of Canada has eased restrictions, but increased the amount of rules associated with travel to the country. While it’s now easier to travel to Canada, the to-do list, required documents, and travel anxieties have somehow gotten bigger for individuals who wish to travel.
Now more than ever, determining if additional time or appropriate documentation for travel is needed with COVID requirements, as well as how difficult these tasks will be with the increase in travel now that COVID restrictions are easing, has become essential.
What’s the solution?
Dus provides travel forecasting and planning for his clients. Travel forecasting helps to avoid the pain-points and logistical challenges associated with travel post-COVID. With his expert-level forecasting, travelers have been able to overcome these challenges in ample time before their anticipated date of travel. This is essential for those traveling for business, who want to avoid the confusion and cost associated with travel requirements.
Dus utilizes his position in the industry to educate his clients on future travel trends. “Because we sell visa related services, we can extrapolate useful data from the volume of inquiries/orders and provide travel trend predictions up to 3 weeks before they are visible in wider tourism markets.” This can be valuable information for travelers who are uncertain if they have all the necessities to travel to Canada, with ever-changing rules and new requirements being laid out.
Travel forecasting determines whether additional time is needed to gather appropriate documentation for travel, what additional documents travelers may need for a specific region due to COVID requirements, as well as how difficult these tasks may be as traveling increases with the lifting of COVID restrictions. Favisbook predicts travel behavior and future demand for travel, helping clients anticipate any additional time that may be required to gather documentation and setting consulate appointments for visa travel.
In addition to individuals traveling for business or for pleasure, students who wish to study abroad can affordably access this benefit. Favisbook provides their service free-of-charge to low-income students from underserved communities. Through his service, Dus is able to save students and busy travelers time and money through travel forecasting in an era of uncertainty in the travel industry. Those navigating this ever-changing landscape will benefit from the skill of foresight. Those who have traveled before know how life-changing an experience it can be, and challenging logistics should never be a barrier. Dus understands this as well. “Travel should be simple and convenient, and we will continue to strive towards that goal with our excellent research, and thorough planning.”