The COVID-19 pandemic had a massive impact on the travel and tourism industry, including airlines, hotels, tour operators, restaurants, and many other tourism-related businesses. At this time, we do not know how long these effects will be felt for.
HOW DID THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC IMPACT YOUR TRAVEL PLANS?
Like many Canadians, did you plan to take a spring or summer vacation, only to experience flight cancellations? If you ended up having to cancel a flight, did you receive a refund, or were you told the only option was a voucher? Did your trips back and forth across the Canada-US border rapidly grind to a halt due to the borders being closed to non-essential travel?
We wanted to learn more about Canadians and Americans’ perspectives on various aspects of air travel during COVID-19, and the reopening of the Canada-US borders.
Between July 3 and 5, 2020, as part of our weekly survey, we conducted over 1,500 online interviews among Canadians, and over 1,000 online interviews among Americans. Below, we’re sharing their perspectives with you!
SUPPORT FOR THE TRANSPORT MINISTER’S DECISION TO AVOID FORCING AIRLINES TO OFFER REFUNDS
In Canada, Transport Minister Marc Garneau decided to avoid forcing airlines to offer refunds to passengers whose flights were cancelled due to COVID-19. We asked Canadians whether they support or oppose his decision: nearly three-quarters (72%) oppose it, including nearly half (48%) who strongly oppose it. 22% of Canadians support his decision.
COMFORT WITH TRAVELLING ON PLANES WHERE SOCIAL DISTANCING MEASURES HAVE BEEN REDUCED
On June 26, WestJet and Air Canada announced they would end the physical distancing measures in place on their flights, starting on July 1. While some experts note that the relaxation of these measures will risk increased spread of the COVID-19 virus on board, others argue that the filters in place on the planes will sufficiently “control airborne bacteria and viruses.”1 Airlines in the United States (including American Airlines, United, and Sprint Airlines) also began to relax on-board physical distancing measures.2
When we asked Canadians and Americans whether they were comfortable with the relaxation of physical distancing measures on board, 72% of Canadians and 63% of Americans indicated they are uncomfortable flying under these new conditions (with physical distancing measures relaxed).
SHOULD THE CANADA-US BORDER BE REOPENED, ALLOWING TOURISTS TO ENTER THE COUNTRY?
At the time of our survey, the Canada-US borders were tentatively scheduled to reopen at the end of July (since the survey was conducted, this date has been pushed back to August 21). When we asked Canadians and Americans whether they agreed or disagreed with reopening the borders at the end of July, 86% of Canadians disagreed with reopening the borders, while 36% of Americans disagreed: a difference of 50 percentage points.
The situation for the travel and tourism industry remains uncertain. While some Canadians and Americans are anxious to start travelling again, others (about one-third of Canadians and one-fifth of Americans, according to our recent survey) say they will not travel internationally until a vaccine for COVID-19 is available. It is hard to know at this time how long it will take to pave the path to a new normal.
This web survey was conducted from July 3 to July 5, 2020, with 1,517 Canadians and 1,006 Americans, 18 years of age or older, randomly recruited from LEO’s online panel.
Using data from the 2016 Census, the results were weighted by gender, age, mother tongue, region, education level and presence of children in the household in order to ensure a representative sample of the population.
The numbers presented have been rounded to the nearest whole number, however, raw values were used to calculate the sums presented and therefore, the sums may not correspond to the manual addition of the raw numbers.
Where would you like to go when you feel safe flying again?
Tell us in the comments below.
1Global News: WestJet, Air Canada will end physical distancing on flights starting July 1
2USA Today: Your next American flight might be full as airline will no longer block seats in name of social distancing
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