Local travel agents see a comeback

Local News

Canceled trips and postponed vacations — that’s the reality for travel agents across the country. Some local companies say people are now putting destinations on their calendars as the weather turns colder.

Analysts said the pandemic cost the US travel industry $500 billion dollars. Local agents in the field said 2020 has been full of setbacks.

“You could call it stalled or dead in the water,” High Profile Travel owner Lynne Voelliger said.

Janelle Throne, owner of Throne Travel in Davenport, said the virus’ impact was significant.

“COVID hit the travel industry huge. Everything came to a screaming halt,” she said.

US travel restrictions made it hard for agents to make money.

“When people aren’t traveling, unfortunately it effects our income,” Throne said.

She said her business lost thousands of dollars during the pandemic, but things are looking up.

“Last week was probably the record number of bookings since this all started. This week is, showing that it’s on track to be about the same,” she said.

Voelliger, whose business is in Bettendorf, said international travel is changing, with most destinations requiring COVID-19 tests.

“It has to be taken within 10 days of your arrival in Jamaica for example. So we have to prove that we are negative before we can even enter the borders,” she said.

Other precautions include social distancing at resorts and requiring masks at all times in airports and on airplanes.

Rock Island resident Sandra Clemons planned a trip to Jamaica in March with her husband, but it was postponed until November.

“It was very depressing, because we had planned to go to celebrate my 40th [birthday],” she said. “They just cancelled everything.”

She’s looking forward to the get-away, even if masks are mandated.

“[I’ll] have a good time, enjoy myself, and relax a little bit. I think we deserve it.”

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