Air Canada Stock – Return of travel a slow but steady process
Even as we fear further restrictions entering a third wave of the pandemic, the hard-hit travel industry looks forward with genuine signs of confidence for a strong recovery.
While the way we live and work may be permanently changed by the pandemic, with more people working from home, fewer face-to-face business transactions and a retail industry that is uncertain of its offline future, the need to travel seems to be ingrained as a permanent feature in those for whom travel was a part of their lives before COVID-19.
I hear it from the people I meet and talk with, and the industry feels it from the calls it gets from would-be future travellers. I have coined the term “desperation travel,” the absolute commitment in a large segment of the population to resume worldwide visits as soon as they deem it safe.
Travel stocks are up
Investors feel this mood as well, given the rise in travel stocks over the past months. Many of the travel-related ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds, which enable investors to buy large baskets of related stocks in one bundle purchase) are doing exceptionally well. The MG Travel Tech ETF sold for around US$14 during the past year, and this week closed at over US$30. A number of others have also seen strong increases.
Hotel vacancies may still be extremely high, but Saudi Arabia will still proceed in the completion of their 50 luxury resort hotels, with the first openings scheduled for 2022. This 10-year project will be one of the greenest environmental tourist constructions ever undertaken, operated only with renewable energy.
People miss airline food
The days of an inflight meal for domestic travel went by the wayside some time ago, with fancy meals only for those in business class. These up-front meals were often available at a cost for those in hospitality as well. While many complain about airline meals, the reality is that some of the best chefs in the world are hired to created interesting and more than palatable meals. For those who miss tasting some of these interesting meals, airlines such as Finnair have successfully made many of their inflight choices available at grocery store outlets.
Perhaps the most extreme example of someone missing airline food is the story of Nik Sennhauser, as seen on Fintech Zoom.
Nik has been a long-haul traveller for many years. During the lockdown in Glasgow, Scotland, where he lives, he began recreating some of the best meals he has consumed inflight on his journeys. He purchased an airline-style trolley, similar serving plates, and began his pastime of recreating his best remembered inflight meals.
Openings, incentives and interesting options
Even as Canada is likely to keep its current border restrictions in place for at least another couple of months, other jurisdictions are opening — many with fewer obstacles to entry and at least one offering an incentive for visitors.
Celebrity Cruises has begun selling what may be the most unique staycation for British guests. It has created special six -to eight-night itineraries to sail along the British coastline — including the Scottish Highlands, Belfast, Liverpool and the Jurassic Coastline from Portland.
Bonus opportunities are offered to travel agents, and everything is all-inclusive once on board.
The Malta Tourism Authority, which promotes travel to the archipelago located in the central Mediterranean, with a minimum three-day stay in a local hotel, will hand over 200 euros to visitors who take up the offer starting June 1.
Thailand, which has been one of the most successful countries in controlling the spread of COVID-19, will reduce its quarantine period to just one week beginning July 1.
On May 8, entry into Barbados will be allowed based on visitors being fully vaccination and providing proof of a negative COVID PCR test three days prior to arrival, plus a short quarantine in an approved hotel.
Beginning next month, Hawaii will be honouring Vaccine Passports from various apps, and visitors will be able to travel without having to take a COVID-19 test.
Airline support growing
Perhaps the strongest signal of belief in the return of the travel industry is our own government’s willingness to allow Air Canada to access almost $6 billion in debt and equity financing. An agreement with Westjet will follow over the next few weeks. Even governments don’t feed dead horses.
In so doing the government ensured that refunds the airline was holding must be returned to their clients. The government also insisted that the travel agencies, who may be furthest back in the recovery food chain, are not penalized by the airlines asking for the return of commissions.
A writer and a podcaster, Ron’s travel column appears in the Winnipeg Free Press every Saturday in the Destinations and Diversions section.
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