We are faced daily with a myriad of conflicting information. We read how anxious Canadian snowbirds are to return to their favourite nests south of the border. How some are already there – either overflowing with, or topped up on insurance, or essentially taking a ‘what the hell, let’s go anyway’ attitude. Now we have a new survey that claims, while the US has typically been the most popular destination for Canadian travellers until now – things have changed.
A recent survey conducted by the Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada (THIA) found that 79 percent of Canadians (and 90 percent of boomers) said they would not travel to the US this winter, even if their travel health insurance policy provided coverage for COVID-19.
The survey of 1,000 Canadians also revealed that while 80 percent of Canadians hope to travel in 2021, 59 percent said they were only planning domestic travel due to concerns over contracting COVID-19 in other countries.
While Statistics Canada reports revealed a decline in travel to the US by Canadians before 2020, that number has dropped dramatically as a result of the pandemic. Survey findings suggest that the impact of the virus in the US will have a long-term impact on Canadian tourism to that market.
When asked where Canadians plan to travel to first when the pandemic subsides, respondents identified Canada (37 percent), Europe (22 percent), the Caribbean (16 percent) and Asia (10 percent) as their top destinations.
“It’s surprising to see that Canadians would consider travelling half-way across the world before crossing the US border. We are curious to see actual travel trends that emerge once government travel advisories are lifted and leisure travel resumes,” says Will McAleer, THIA’s Executive Director and spokesperson.
“The US has been Canada’s most popular travel destination for decades because of its proximity and flight routes. This is a dramatic shift in traveller perceptions.”
One thing that is certain is that travellers will want to know what kind of travel health insurance they have before they leave Canada. Fifty-two percent of survey respondents said they don’t know if their travel health insurance coverage is still valid when travelling to countries under a travel advisory. What many Canadians don’t realize is there are still options for those who choose to travel while the government’s travel advisory remains in effect.
It is more important now than ever to ensure that travellers understand their travel health insurance coverage and have the necessary coverage. THIA recommends always following the golden rules of travel health insurance before you leave for your vacation:
1. Know your policy – Insurance providers have staff available to answer any questions related to policies. Make sure to ask your provider about extended coverage options for COVID-19, recent policy updates or changes.
2. Know your health and consult a health care provider if you have any questions.
3. Know your trip – How long will you be gone? Are you a snowbird? Will you be travelling many times during the year? Do you plan to scuba dive? Find a policy that is specifically tailored to your trip.
4. Know your rights – the Bill of Rights and Responsibilities will help provide all travelling Canadians with additional confidence in their travel insurance purchase knowing their company is supporting their rights as a consumer and making them aware of their responsibilities.
About the Survey
The 2020 Smart Traveller Survey was conducted in October 2020 by Ipsos, polling 1,000 responses across Canada, ranging from ages 18 to 60+.
Source: Travel Industry Today
WHERE ARE WE GOING: Has Covid-19 changed Canadians interest in travel destinations