A new survey conducted by the Association Of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA) reveals that the COVID-19 health emergency is "most definitely" having an effect on the travel industry.
ACTA recently surveyed more than 400 of its members to learn more about what is happening in the marketplace, releasing its results just days after the World Health Organization (WHO) upgraded its global risk assessment of COVID-19 to ‘very high.'
The results show that "consumers are concerned not just about Asia but in particular about cruising and about travel in general," ACTA stated in a release issued Sunday morning (March 1).
Asia taking the biggest hit
Of clients already booked for future travel, 56 per cent of agents reported clients were looking for reassurance about whether to travel, while 27 per cent reported clients wanted to cancel, and about 17 per cent reported clients wanted to postpone, change date or destination, the survey reveals.
In terms of what trips clients are looking to cancel or change, Asia cruises and Asia river cruises topped the list, with Caribbean cruises next and Europe bookings close behind, the survey reveals. However, there were a large number of requests to change or cancel the Caribbean and Mexico as well.
Smaller numbers of requests to cancel or change were also received for U.S. destinations, the survey states.
When it comes to future booking patterns, 87 per cent of travel agents said Asian cruises are slower than normal and 85 per cent said Asian river cruises are slower than normal.
Fifty-eight per cent of agents reported Europe cruise sales are slower than normal and 47 per cent reported Caribbean future cruise sales are slower than normal.
However, on a positive note, the majority of agents (more than half) said that future bookings were normal for the Caribbean and Mexico, the U.S., Central & South America and Europe (non-cruise).
The survey had a total of 401 respondents from across Canada. About 57 per cent of these agents work in storefronts; 21 per cent are home based with host agencies; 11 per cent are corporate travel; about 7 per cent are in call centres and about 5 per cent are wholesalers.
ACTA said that it will continue to monitor the situation.
Ontario and B.C. confirmed new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday (Feb. 29), bringing Canada's total to 20.
The U.S. also confirmed its first death related to COVID-19 on Saturday, prompting the county to tighten its travel restrictions.
COVID-19, a new strain of coronavirus, continues to spread around the world, preparing communities for what could be a global pandemic.
Airports worldwide have implemented preventive measures and major industry events that were scheduled to take place in the coming weeks have been cancelled, notably ITB Berlin and Virtuoso's 2020 Symposium in Vienna.
Check back with PAX for the latest COVID-19 updates.
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