COLORADO SPRINGS — A case of the new COVID-19 variant has been confirmed in the United States, and it could have an impact on your travel plans in the upcoming weeks and months. Today News 5 spoke to a travel agent about how her business is being affected.
Terry Sim is the owner of Terry's Travel, a Colorado Springs business she's run for just over 20 years. For her, things were returning to somewhat normal in recent weeks.
"In the last two months, I have had more calls, a lot more interest in traveling, people are just tired of being at home, they're ready to go and I would say it's starting to pick up," said Sim.
She said since the pandemic hit, she's had to cancel more than 90 trips for her clients for various reasons. She also mentioned she knows of a few travel agents who've left the industry altogether.
"I actually remember having the thought that maybe I should just quit, there's no business anyway."
And with news of the new COVID-19 variant making its way to the United States, she's also been getting a lot of calls for questions. People are asking if they can travel to a certain country, and if they have to be COVID-19 vaccinated to travel there. She says that information can be easily found on State.gov and click on the "Travelers" tab.
Meanwhile, some people have also canceled and postponed their trips after hearing the news about the new COVID-19 variant.
"I have had to cancel some tickets, yes, and that was two days ago. It's not as big of a punch now, but if you look in the perspective of things, I don't have as many bookings, so taking away one is kind of big. It's been a tough couple of years," said Sim.
For travel agents out there, this is yet another hurdle to overcome, Sim is choosing to remain optimistic.
"I try to be positive about it, I know people want to travel, and they will as soon as they feel safe," said Sim.
Sim is encouraging people to have a COVID-19 insurance plan for your trips, and make sure your airlines and hotels have flexible cancellation policies as well. Traveling guidelines and bans can change quickly, so it's also important to stay up to date on the latest news and information if you travel.
She also mentioned last year when the pandemic first started, airlines and agencies were more lenient when it came to refunds and cancellations, but this year, they're less lenient and some tickets are non-refundable.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Colorado Springs airport says they've surpassed 2019 travel volumes every month since the summer started, and they expect around 20% higher passenger numbers than 2019 for the Christmas and New Years holiday due to the addition of Southwest Airlines service this year, and other airlines increasing their seats.