Tourism industry sees beginning to a hopeful rebound | Local

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After a full year of struggles amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, professionals in the tourism industry believe they are seeing the first signs of recovery. Travel advisor Annette Duplechin said her DeRidder-based tourism franchise, Cruise Planners, has already seen two record booking weeks in the past five weeks, as travelers […]

After a full year of struggles amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, professionals in the tourism industry believe they are seeing the first signs of recovery.

Travel advisor Annette Duplechin said her DeRidder-based tourism franchise, Cruise Planners, has already seen two record booking weeks in the past five weeks, as travelers schedule what leaders in the industry are calling “revenge travel.”  

“Revenge travel is, for those who have been held back from their love of travel this past year, booking as many trips as possible for as soon as possible. For myself, revenge travel is that for the year 2022 I’m planning one small trip in every month,” Duplechin stated.

The tourism industry has taken some heavy blows since the world first began experiencing shut downs and closures in early 2020. Over 500,000 jobs have been lost in the cruise industry alone, and popular tourist destinations are struggling to remain open.

“Alaska is actually a very popular cruise destination, but now it is experiencing its second year of seeing a 60 percent drop in its tourism numbers,” Duplechin stated.

Cruise numbers may soon be on the rise, though. As of last week, cruises have begun sailing once again in the caribbean and while U.S. ports remain closed, Duplechin said a large number of travelers are now flying into the caribbean and sailing to and from island ports.

“It is still not the ideal option as they have to fly out of the U.S. in order to sail, but the clients who are taking these trips are repeat cruisers who are willing to accept that caveat in order to experience what they love,” Duplechin stated.

Additional hurdles have been put in place, however. COVID-19 vaccinations are required for these cruises, and for international travelers returning to the U.S., a negative covid test is required to board their return flights.

“Of my clients, I would say 80 percent of cruise enthusiasts are hesitant to accept the vaccine. So, for those who are comfortable with the vaccine then they have those caribbean all-inclusive options available to them, but others are now beginning to look into local travel,” Duplechin stated.

As a testament to Duplechin’s statement, travel advisors have been reporting record bookings for amusement parks such as Disney World and Universal Studios. While those parks are continuing to conduct crowd control measures, officials over both parks have reported maximum capacity crowds already during the 2021 spring break season.

It is a welcome reprieve for travel advisors like Duplechin who experienced serious setbacks in 2020 from a flood of travel cancellations, and the continued battle of staying on top of travel information that changes from day to day.

“I think what we have all learned from this is that no one can continue without travel. Things are constantly changing and what was the rule yesterday may not be the rule today, literally, but things are moving forward,” she stated.

“I don’t think we will see the end of COVID protocols anytime soon, but travelers are learning to navigate the new normal to be able to enjoy what they love.”

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