‘Canada is built for social distancing,’ say experts

Canada’s open spaces, lack of crowds and the availability of self-drive holidays are driving “good appetite for travel” in 2021, according to experts in the destination.

Destination Canada partnered with Travel Weekly to produce a Roadmap to Recovery Webinar offering advice for agents on selling the country once borders reopen and travel can resume.

Adam Hanmer, trade manager for Destination Canada, said: “It’s been a horrible year for everyone with cancelling and rebooking, but we’ve had a very high rebook rate through our tour operator and travel agent partners.

“We’re seeing really good appetite for travel to Canada for next year.

“Our hope is that the borders will be open next year and that we’ll be able to get a full season of travel in. We have a ski season, but May is really when we see the Brits coming in, so we’re hopeful that the borders will be open by then so people can travel.”

The Rocky Mountains remain a key draw for first-time visitors, according to Claire Moore, managing director of travel agency Peakes Travel Elite.

She said: “[Tourist train] Rocky Mountaineer comes high for most first-time visitors to Canada. It’s the draw of the Rockies generally that brings people in.

“It’s that notion of space, blue sky, not many people, with some brilliant wildlife experiences. It’s really diverse.”

However agents have a part to play in overcoming customers’ misconceptions about Canada, including the weather, the size of the country and the price.

Lee Rogers, product and commercial director at specialist operator Canadian Affair, said: “People don’t understand the distances between east and west or even between Calgary and Vancouver. Price is a misconception as well – people think that it’s very expensive, but you can have different holiday types for different budgets.”

Hanmer added: “One of the big misconceptions we still have to fight is that people think it’s cold year-round. When most of the Brits go – which is really June to September or October – the weather is great. They have a better summer than we do here.

“Canada is actually closer than you think – St Johns is a four-and-a-half-hour flight, Toronto or Montreal are nearer than New York.

“Canada is built for social distancing because there is the space. On a self-drive you control your immediate environment and where you go, and with hotels, all the safety protocols will be in place.”

Go to Travel Weekly’s competitions page to enter Destination Canada’s competition to win a bottle of ice wine courtesy of Niagara Tourism.

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