What will become of Canada’s travel industry this summer as the COVID-19 pandemic drags on? Will Canadians feel safe travelling, flying or staying in hotels? What travel options will they have?
The University of Guelph has an expert who can offer commentary.
Prof. Marion Joppe, from U of G’s School of Hospitality, Food and Tourism Management, is an expert on the travel industry who researches the economic, social and environmental impacts of tourism.
She says many in Canada’s tourism industry believe Canadians will start to travel this summer, although the majority of trips will be close to home. She calls these trips “ultra-local” or “hyper-local”, meaning most will involve driving just a few hours from home.
“This means we will stay largely in our own communities and travel in a radius of maybe one to two hours by car to visit close family in small groups,” she said, adding that city dwellers will have a strong desire to head for green spaces in the countryside.
But trips to cottages and rental properties could be tricky, Joppe said, as many local residents in these small communities don’t want to see influxes of tourists, which may lead to tensions.
As for cross-country trips, the future of air travel remains uncertain, Joppe said. On the one hand, many potential travellers have expectations about the need for physical distancing; on the other, airlines cannot afford to run flights with only a portion of their seats filled.
Then, there are the restrictions that many provinces have in place banning inter-provincial, “non-essential” travel, as well as international border closings that further complicate the possibility of long-distance travel. Amid such uncertainty, most Canadians will choose to travel by car.
“Road trips are going to be the go-to way for many, many Canadians,” Joppe recently told Global News. “If they travel this summer, that’s what they will do.”
Joppe recently was a panelist on an episode of U of G’s Leading Through Crisis webinar series, entitled “Rebuilding Tourism and Hospitality” in which she discussed the challenges facing the Canadian tourism and travel industries.
Prof. Joppe is available for interviews.
Prof. Marion Joppe