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Greg Collins: Future of travel

Author: Greg Collins (BA'99)

Posted on Oct 22, 2020

Category: Insights

As President and CEO of Collins Tours & Consulting Ltd., UNB alumnus Greg Collins (BA'99) shares his insights into the future of travel amid COVID-19. As the global industry shifts, Greg provides his perspective on changes that have resulted from the pandemic, gives tips for travelling locally and shares his thoughts on places that may become travel destinations in 2021. 

When do you think travel will improve, given the COVID-19 pandemic?

From first hand experience of travel over the last several months, and mostly since July 2020, travel has already improved tremendously. The opening of the Atlantic Bubble was a supportive direction created by the provincial governments of Atlantic Canada. Collins Tours was the only coach tour whom successfully completed a 13 day New Foundland Discovery Tour  back in  August. There had been more than 75 coaches scheduled to tour the island, and we were not only the first one to be welcomed, but the only tour company who made it to NFLD. We completed this experience safely meeting and exceeding all expectations from local Governments, and most importantly, our clients. 

Do you anticipate travel costs to be higher post-COVID?

This is a great question. It has many answers since there are many forms of travel in the world today. You have air travel, train travel, coach travel, cruise travel, hotel, and events. Yes I see costs increasing sooner than later. Why? The demand for travel is very high right now. Despite some beliefs, people wish to travel now. They understand there are risks and if the risk is low, they are analyzing the risks and choosing to accept them or not. When you see demand being increased, and supply being limited with capacity control on every aspect of travel, that creates a very interesting situation. Combine the supply and demand constraints with loss of revenue, high operating costs,additional operating loans, and recovery in travel, pricing will eventually increase. The increases have been seen since July in some sectors. Cruises are an example and when the restart begins, the capacity will be significantly reduced.  

Are there any destinations considered safer to travel to right now? 

Yes definitely. One that is top of mind is Bermuda. Bermuda has been downgraded by the UK and Germany as a level 2 travel advisory because of their new travel protocols upon entering Bermuda. Bermuda was closed to travel for some time. However, when they opened to tourism on July 1st, 2020, they implemented a mandatory pre departure PCR COVID-19 test within seven days of arrival. You will also be required to purchase a Bermuda travel authorization process online for $75 USD. When you arrive in Bermuda, you present this form, with your negative PCR test, and then you are tested again at the Bermuda Airport. Twenty four hours later while at your hotel or booked accommodations, you will receive your results, if results are negative you are free to enjoy the island. Bermuda has gone above and beyond with additional mandatory tests while on the island beginning at day four. This is included in the $75 USD Bermuda travel form. With respects to cases, the island has had very few, and currently as of October 17th, only 4 active cases between Oct 2 -15th

What regions do you suspect will become travel destinations in 2021?

There are many. Canada will be one and you can count on Atlantic Canada leading the way. With our great success here, despite the recent isolated transmission in zones 1 and 5, we have been noticed globally. Don’t be surprised with seeing more and more tourists here in 2021. 

Another hot spot will be Hawaii! Hawaii opened its borders on October 15th 2020 for international travelers. You need a PCR COVID-19 test prior to arriving and must fill out a Safe Travels Program form. This test must be completed within 72 hours prior to departure and a negative result is mandatory for entry. This will remove the 14 day quarantine. On October 15th there were estimated between 7000 and 8000 tourists who landed on one of the islands of Hawaii. That’s a significant number of travelers for one day. 

Are travel companies, like your own, shifting to encourage more local travel?

Collins Tours has increased capacity for Atlantic Canada Tours. Local day tours are not really what we are known best for and we find multi-day tours really give clients the experience they are looking for, compared to one and done day trips.

What types of travel or travel destinations have resulted from this pandemic?

The USA has been hit hard and the local border being closed has caused a shift. The shift is temporary I feel. There are many beautiful places in the USA.  New York has been through the war and back several times, it will be a top destination again, and look for this to be the case in the later part of 2021. 

What effect have you seen on travel and tourism in Canada?

Well this is tough question. I can only speak on the known knowns, and not the unknown. It’s been very tough on many. Tourism is a 102 billion plus industry in Canada alone. Canadian tour operators, suppliers and air lines need to have restrictions eased slowly and progressively. I think people can sometimes forget there are many family members, neighbours, and friends who make the hospitality and tourism industry their life. A safe restart in the major sectors needs to be put into action.

What is your advice for people looking to take advantage of travel within their own region?

I can offer advice on travel sector as a whole. Collins Tours has operated several motor coach tours this year since July, and all were well received and safely operated. When many people told us “you will not operate this year” we said, why? Why can we not operate a tour within the Atlantic Bubble safely and look after those clients who need travel to stay young, to be free, to explore and build memories? So that is what we did, and did this extremely well.  For those who are looking daily at the case rise in Canada, it’s very tough to see through this and find a solution. What we know from March and April, 4 weeks or 6 weeks, many things can change positively. News about vaccines have been announced on Friday October 16th and again October 18th, with emergency use requests beginning in late November and early December. This will create confidence in additional regions for travel.  Travel will not be for everyone. Those whom are not at an increased health risk, are the travelers who we see booking travel in 2021. 

What are the top three places you’d like to personally visit, once travel improves?

This is a tough question for me. I have been traveling since I was very young. Six weeks old to be exact. I grew up in travel and have traveled to over 75 countries, a lot of these many times. I have to say I have a true love for Europe and Switzerland comes in at a top three of my all time favourite spots. I also love French Riviera and Costa Del Sol regions. 

For me Hawaii has a lot to offer with the culture, weather, options for unique experiences, beaches, and food. You cannot go wrong. With over 40 years of experience in travel, the industry is here to stay and travelers can look for the cleanest travel options moving forward.  This is something we needed to see years ago. Perhaps this is a silver lining with the pandemic. 

What is your top travel destination in New Brunswick?

Top place in NB would be St. Andrews. I love the town, the resort and the options it has to offer.