Calgary

Calgarians still travelling despite Omicron's rise, industry insiders report

It seems that many Calgarians are forging ahead with holiday travel plans despite the advisory against international travel that was prompted by the rise in cases of the new Omicron COVID-19 variant.

Many people headed for sunny vacations where they feel safer outside, travel agent says

Passengers wait to check in their luggage at Montreal–Trudeau International Airport in Montreal, Dec. 19, 2020. As the pandemic drags on, Calgary travel agents say people are forging ahead with travel plans despite the risks. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

It seems that many Calgarians are forging ahead with holiday travel plans despite the advisory against international travel that was prompted by the rise in cases of the new Omicron COVID-19 variant.

And one Calgary travel agent says many of her clients are doing it for the sake of their mental health.

It's been over two years since Lazaro Paynor has seen his family in the Philippines. So, despite the international travel advisory spurred by the Omicron variant, he told CBC News he's making the trip.

He cancelled a trip earlier in the pandemic, but he says he didn't even consider cancelling this one.

"This is a surprise visit for our family. They didn't know that we're going home," he said.

Thomas Zellner is taking a big trip, too. He's set to fly through Los Angeles to get back home to Melbourne, Australia, after two years in Canada.

He says while he's somewhat concerned about Omicron, he's being extra careful.

"We don't leave the house unless we have to. We're obviously wearing our masks and everything. We sanitize every chance we get," he said.

Calculated risk, mental well-being

According to Sarah Halprin, a travel agent with the Travel Agent Next Door, people are taking calculated risk of leisure travel partly for the sake of their mental well-being after a punishing, nearly two-year global pandemic.

"Not just that — people feel safer in Mexico than they do in Alberta," she added. Halprin said most of her clients are going on beach vacations where they won't be stuck inside because of the cold, like they are in Alberta.

So far, she says no clients have cancelled their trips.

A travel insurance company says Canadians need to beware if they continue to travel abroad despite the federal advisory against non-essential international travel. 

Pamela Kwiatkowski, co-founder of Goose Insurance, says if you must travel, make sure to be up to date on vaccines, know the local requirements, get COVID insurance, and read your contracts.

"The key is whenever you're booking your trip to make sure that you understand that prior to paying for it, what are the cancellation terms and conditions of your hotel your tour operator so really the onus on consumers is so strong to read the fine print."

With files from Karina Zapata and Elise von Scheel

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