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Traveling Still Has Restrictions, But One Travel Agency Sees A Brighter Future

Aerial view of the beach in Panama City, Florida.
The beach in Panama City, Florida.

More Central Ohioans are ready to travel again now that COVID-19 vaccinations have progressed, but they will find some hurdles to overcome through at least the end of 2021.

Travel agencies are starting to see business pick back up somewhat, however business remains way down compared to before the pandemic because travel to many countries is still prohibited.

“Any U.S. citizen returning back to the United States from any foreign destination does require a negative COVID test within three days of their flight back to the U.S. So that is one hurdle that our clients do have to consider when they do travel outside the United States,” says Rob Elking, owner of Grandview Travel.

Elking’s business dropped 90% last year after the pandemic started in March. It’s come back up somewhat but is still close to 80% off from early 2020.

“We’re seeing some bright spots,” Elking says. “People are wanting to travel. They want to travel safe.”

Popular destinations are warm beach locations in the Florida panhandle and Hilton Head, where families can rent a home.

“Parents traveling with their children and grandchildren,” Elking says. “They’re looking for a big home. Maybe a 6, 7- bedroom home on the beach with a private pool. They don’t want to stay at a hotel. They’re looking for large accommodations so they can keep their family together.”

Vacationers looking for cruises can now book trips, but Elking says they will have to travel outside of the U.S. to embark.

“There is an opportunity to cruise,” Elking says. “Our clients will not be cruising from any port here in the United States. One will have to travel to a foreign destination and cruise from there.”

Some cruise lines have moved their ships to Bermuda, Iceland, Nassau or Athens, Greece.

Elking says travel to Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand is still on pause.

“Especially Europe, France and Italy, they’re behind us on vaccinations,” Elking says. “Whether we become vaccinated, it’s a situation where our clients are traveling to. Is that country, are their borders open? Are they being vaccinated?”

Elking looks forward to more travelers next year.

“We have positioned ourselves to be ready for a big uptick in business,” he says. “I think we’re going to see that later this year, and into 2022.”

Debbie Holmes began her career in broadcasting in Columbus after graduating from The Ohio State University. She left the Buckeye state to pursue a career in television news and worked as a reporter and anchor in Moline, Illinois and Memphis, Tennessee.