The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a massive dent in the tourism industry. Its sector saw a loss of nearly $4.5 trillion US in 2020, according to a report released by the World Travel and Tourism Council. The report also revealed that approximately 62 million jobs in the travel industry were lost, leaving only 272 million employed globally.
However, with vaccination rates rising and pandemic restrictions loosening, it is expected that international travel will be possible again very soon.
Linda Hoang, a travel blogger based in Edmonton, hopes that masks and hygienic practices will still be normalized once travelling is more widely available.
“If there’s more hand sanitizer, if people are masked up when they’re sitting next to strangers in a cabin with recycled air, I think that’s a good thing,” she says. “I wonder maybe for the first little bit if showing proof of double vaccination is going to be common.”
As of July 5, 2021, fully vaccinated Canadian citizens and permanent residents are permitted to enter the country without the observation of a 14-day quarantine. Those returning must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test, as well as proof of vaccination.
But Canadians who plan to travel internationally must adhere to the guidelines set in place by those countries.
Kayla Ritchie, who has travelled and lived abroad for her work as an early childhood educator and a project administrator, says that COVID-19 has shown how much of a privilege travel really is.
“I just think it’s not fair as a person who comes from Canada to be travelling to places where they don’t have vaccines and where COVID isn’t really over for them necessarily,” she says. “We just really are lucky, being in Canada.”
Ritchie had been working in Lesotho—a small country in southern Africa—as a project administrator for a non-governmental organization when she was forced to come back home to Canada due to COVID-19.
“My parents had been calling me, basically saying ‘We really want you to come home,’” she says. “I had to make the decision if I wanted to stay or if I wanted to go, and ultimately, I ended up leaving, even though I really didn’t want to.”
Canadian travellers were urged by the government to return home in March 2020, when COVID-19 restrictions began to take effect.
While interprovincial non-essential travel was barred in Ontario from April 2021 to June 2021, other provinces left the option open.
To fulfil her desire to travel, Hoang chose to explore Alberta during the pandemic. She says that there were so many places she and her husband hadn’t yet seen, including Spruce Grove, Stony Plain and Medicine Hat.
“I really think that all of these little places and little gems—whether it’s Alberta or Ontario or wherever you are—there are really unique places and quality foods, just all around us,” she says.
For young people who wish to travel post-pandemic, Hoang encourages thinking ahead.
“I think planning in advance where you are willing to spend more money and where you’re maybe wanting to save some money,” she says. “And if you’re travelling with other people, it’s good before you go to just sort of figure out what everyone’s one main thing is that they really want to do that would make them happy for that trip.”
Ritchie advises those with an itch to travel to “go.” She says that when she began travelling, she went by herself without thinking too much about it.
“You kind of come back with a stronger head on your shoulders once you’ve kind of conquered that fear,” Ritchie says. “But again, I think people need to be smarter about where they travel and then remember that they have a pretty big privilege to now be able to start travelling again.”