With the recent distribution and administration of the COVID-19 vaccine in Iowa and across the country, local travel agencies that have struggled with the restrictions have seen an increase in travel requests and bookings. Local travel agencies in Iowa City are seeing an increase in travel requests and future travel bookings as the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine increases across the country. It comes as former President Trump recently reduced restrictions on international travel, lifting the ban on travelers from Europe and Brazil entering the United States on January 18. Planning for future travel during the pandemic has been difficult for many Americans, with the risk of further COVIDs. 19 are spreading, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention frequently adjusts recommendations and proposed guidelines for those looking to travel. Travel agencies, especially smaller local agencies, have been under pressure from the instability of the travel industry over the past year, which has resulted in financial difficulties. Travel Leaders / Destinations Unlimited CEO and owner Duane Jasper said his business – based in Cedar Rapids and Coralville – was significantly affected when the pandemic began in March 2020. RELATED: International students at IU are struggling with tough decisions about travel plans with the winter ahead. break “With the CDC restrictions and everyone concerned about the spread of the virus, this resulted in a virtual disruption of travel in the first and second quarters of last year,” Jasper said. “It has grown slowly but steadily since then. But it has certainly had an impact on anyone in the travel industry, whether you are a hotelier, a rental car company, an airline, or the travel industry. Jasper said he was forced to estimate the amount of work the employees had to do. Meanwhile, he said the agency has received an influx of cancellations and rescheduling requests. Once these were completed, he said the workload had decreased. “In the end, our business took a pretty big hit like everyone else on the trip, and we had to cut everyone’s hours,” Jasper said. “Most of our staff are still employed, still working from home, some in the office, but we expect everyone to be back in the next few months.” Jasper said that with this reduction in the hours of work for several employees, agency executives felt it was better to focus on staffing one office instead of two and temporarily closed his office in Coralville. . He said Coralville employees were now working for the office located in Cedar Rapids. Annette Reed, owner of Hawkeye World Travel in Iowa City, said her agency also received numerous requests to cancel travel plans or temporarily halt them last March when tighter travel restrictions for COVID -19 had been put in place. RELATED: Johnson County Leaders Recommend Continuing to Avoid Non-Essential Travel As Other Counties Prepare to Reopen Gradually, However, Reed Said His Agency Has Remained Financially Stable Throughout The Past Year despite the pandemic and had not had to lay off employees or reduce employee hours. Reed said she has seen an increase in the number of new and returning customers who are looking to book trips or receive quotes for potential travel expenses with the end of the pandemic in sight. “We kind of watch what’s going on and make sure our people traveling are safe and have all the information they need to take a vacation and feel comfortable with the choice that they did”. Said Reed. Jasper said that with COVID-19 blocking travel plans and straining personal finances, he has seen many new clients contact his agency, asking for travel advice to avoid these problems in the future. “The good thing for our industry right now is that all the leads and inquiries we get, so many of them are new people contacting a travel agency or travel advisor for the first time,” Jasper said. . “They are doing this because they may have had problems canceling a trip when COVID became a problem.” Jasper said that over the past 30 days he has seen a significant increase in the number of travel inquiries his agency has received, which he says is largely due to the vaccine being distributed. “We know this will continue to be a slow increase in travel,” Jasper said. “But, as the vaccine rolls out, we expect vacations and business travel to continue to rebound.” Iowa City Downtown District Executive Director Nancy Bird said she believes the distribution and administration of the COVID-19 vaccine will encourage travel, which will help local businesses and agencies. trips that have been affected by the pandemic. “The vaccine rollout will really help travel,” Bird said.
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