Time to Shake the Pandemic Blues? Maybe Soon

Tired of sitting in your backyard—alone? Bored by bureaucratic admonitions to wear your mask, stand apart, wash your hands, and sneeze into your elbow?

Hang in there. More and more countries are prepared to welcome you but you still need to be selective.

At this point much of Europe is open to Canadians (if you can find flights that fit your schedule and budget). All airlines are flying greatly reduced schedules and you may have to provide proof of a recent negative COVID test, but that’s a small price to pay for salvaging something out of the dwindling summer and upcoming fall.

The Caribbean too is welcoming Canadians—albeit doing the limbo with a mask may be a little challenging—but mainland guests are highly prized and prices are quite reasonable.

Also, as you may have read in the mainstream media, some Canadian insurers are now offering coverage for COVID-related medical services (including limited cancellation/interruption coverage), so talk to your travel advisor about getting the most appropriate plan for your needs. Make sure you know what your insurance covers.

Sure, it’s still annoying to have to jump through these hoops, but it’s easing up and that’s the right direction. Just think back a few months and be grateful for our progress.

Consider this: according to the Conference Board of Canada, travel restrictions and border closures dropped 97 per cent in May 2020 compared to May 2019. That’s just 56,000 outbound trips compared to 2.7 million last year.

In the first five months of 2020 (that’s including pre-COVID January and February), Canadians made 4.3 million trips to the US—compared to 8.2 million for the same period last year. The same trends follow for Europe and Great Britain, Asia and the Pacific, the Caribbean and Mexico: visits to the UK are down 55 per cent, the same as France; visits to Spain are down 64 per cent; to Greece, down 76 per cent; to Germany, down 60 per cent—and it doesn’t get any better.

But things are looking up, as CBoC projects improving Consumer Confidence levels that were in the pits in May but are looking much better now. Consumer Confidence is measured by survey respondents’ beliefs that this is a good time to make a major purchase.

For Canada as a whole, the national CC index rose from 58 in May to 83 in July. That’s a healthy jump but still 70 per cent lower than pre-pandemic levels.

And where was the CC most robust? Quebec, by a long shot—up to 113 in both June and July. Where was it puny? Alberta—55 in July. Ontario was only so-so at 71 in July—similar to the Prairie provinces, and less than BC at a healthy 97. Remember these are index numbers, not percentages. So they’re best read as levels relative to each other.

Maybe you can actually start making travel plans. That’s a good part too.

© Copyright 2020 Milan Korcok. All rights reserved.

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