Neighbors going to Lisbon, friends on vacation in Hawaii, a nephew on his way to Mexico... If you have the impression that many of your loved ones are packing their bags, you're probably not wrong. After more than two years of pandemic and forced sedentary lifestyle, many Quebecers have rediscovered the desire to go abroad. For some, the urge is stronger than ever.
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This enthusiasm, Gitane Charron, director of the travel agency Jesuisvoyageur, clearly notes. Especially since Canada announced the end of mandatory testing to return to the country. "It's incredible. We are busier than in 2019, says the travel consultant who specializes in experience and luxury stays. We are breaking records, and we are seeing a big return to agency services.”
The same excitement is felt at Flytrippers, a website that identifies low-cost airline tickets and publishes tips for traveling on the cheap. "We've been getting about 1,000 messages a week for some time. It is the tests imposed on returning to Canada that have been hampering travelers for a year, ”says the co-founder of the site Andrew D’Amours.
NOT YET LIKE IN 2019, BUT...
Although levels are still far from those of 2019 – and the pandemic and global situation remains volatile – air transport data also indicates that a recovery is underway.
More concretely, the number of passengers at Pierre-Elliot-Trudeau airport for the month of April 2022 corresponds to approximately 70% of the 2019 level, according to preliminary data from Aéroports de Montréal, which suggests a warmer summer. busy than expected.
For the first quarter of 2022, the 2.2 million recorded passengers was just under half of the traffic recorded in the same period in 2019, before the pandemic. On the other hand, if we compare with the same period in 2021, we are talking about four times more travelers.
CATCH UP TIME
According to Nicolas Ryan, director of public affairs at CAA-Quebec, two trends are emerging among travelers ready to set sail again. There is the traveler who prefers local stays and there is the traveler who wants to realize his big dream. "This one says to himself 'I deprived myself for two years, I'm going to spoil myself twice as much next time'."
Marketers speak of “revenge travel” to describe this desire to make up for lost time and travel the world while possible.
Gitane Charron of Jesuisvoyageur observes this phenomenon well with her customers. “It is so tangible! she says. People have saved their money, they have a little more budget to leave, they want to leave a little longer. And they want to tick boxes on their bucket list.”
"It's like people have stopped taking it for granted that they can travel anytime, anytime they want. It's happening now."
In recent months, many countries have eased their entry requirements. The "dream destinations" are in the sights of many customers at Jesuisvoyageur.
“Hawaii, the Galapagos Islands, African safaris; these are the kinds of requests we are receiving at the moment,” notes Gitane Charron.
Europe is also popular with those heading abroad this summer, notes Flytrippers' Andrew D'Amours. “There are a lot of flights, they are relatively not too expensive compared to other destinations, and the restrictions are almost completely lifted,” he analyzes.
According to the CAA-Quebec report on travel intentions, most Quebecers will still stay in the province (45%) or elsewhere in Canada (11%) for vacation, which was also the case before the pandemic. Those who intend to leave the country soon will favor the United States (10%) and Europe (5%), mainly France, Italy and Spain.
The prices of plane tickets are on the rise, according to specialists, especially for plane tickets. But the higher prices don't hold back the most impatient travelers.
“We notice that the plane costs a little more, confirms Nicolas Ryan of CAA-Quebec. On the other hand, what we notice is that the travel budgets are also higher this year.
Flytrippers co-founder Andrew D'Amours says it's always possible to find great deals on flights, at least for certain regions of the globe.
“If we are flexible, either on the date or on the destination, we can have as good plane ticket deals as before. If not, maybe indeed, it is more expensive now. But bargains, there will always be some.
106 - The number of destinations served from Pierre-Elliot-Trudeau airport (YUL) in March 2022, a record since the start of the pandemic.
131 - The number of destinations served at YUL in 2019 before the pandemic.
*47.9% - The percentage of air passenger traffic at Pierre-Elliot-Trudeau airport recorded in the first quarter of 2022 (2.2 M) compared to that of the same period in 2019 (4.7 M ).
70% - The percentage of air traffic in April 2022 compared to that of 2019, according to preliminary data from Aéroports de Montréal.
*1.2M - The number of Canadian residents who returned from a trip to the United States through one of the country's land border crossings with an automated system, in April 2022. This corresponds to 1 million more people than in April 2021, but at 55.8% of the April 2019 total.
67% - According to CAA-Quebec's annual survey on vacation intentions, published on June 1, 67% of Quebecers plan to travel this summer and 15% of them plan to do so by plane. A total that is close to the 19% observed in 2019 and which corresponds to 10 points more than last year.
More and more Quebec travelers are heading back to Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau Airport.
Added to the pleasure of being able to travel again is a new excitement: a mixture of happiness and the slight stress of resuming a “more normal” life in which leisure travel is once again allowed.
"We're excited, we can't wait, we're happy," say Danik Di Tamasso, Alexandre Nadeau and Étienne Forget, a trio of 24-year-old young men from Joliette about to fly to Cuba. “The restrictions are lifted, summer is coming, the price was good; we thought it was a good time to leave.” The travelers with whom Le Journal spoke are inhabited by the same emotion: this first trip for a long time represents a step towards regained freedom. This is the case for Violeta Osievschii and her family, who can finally leave for Disneyland in Paris with the children then in Moldova to see the family again. "We are happy to be able to travel again as a family," she says.
During our visit, travelers circulate without difficulty on the premises. At the counters of the Sunwing company, travelers form a line that moves briskly. Same thing in front of the security passage leading to the boarding gates of international destinations.
At Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau airport, surprise for many, wearing a mask remains mandatory. Travelers will therefore have to be masked until their arrival at their destination, also throughout the flight.
Despite the covered faces, we guess the smiles joining the sparkling eyes of those who are about to fly away. The resumption of travel is taking place: there are four times more departures than last year at the same date. On the other hand, we have not yet found the same levels as before the pandemic.
International tourism is at 61% of its 2019 level for the months of January to March 2022, with 117 million international arrivals, according to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
Overall, Europe is leading the recovery, followed closely by the Americas. The Caribbean and southern Mediterranean Europe have the fastest recovery. Arrivals there have recovered to nearly 75% of 2019 levels. In some cases, tourism is at or even above pre-pandemic levels.
Asia-Pacific is at the other end of the spectrum. January-March 2022 levels were 93% lower than 2019 figures, despite a 64% increase in international arrivals compared to 2021.
UNWTO expects international tourist arrivals to reach 55% to 70% of 2019 levels this year, taking into account the uncertainty caused by the war in Ukraine and the pandemic. A more optimistic estimate than expected.
RESTRICTIONS STILL IN PLACE
A FEW ADVICE FOR TRAVELERS