Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

*New COVID drug ‘effective against all mutations’ of Omicron variant – For more information, click HERE

*Clarification On How Airport Arrival Testing Will Work – For more information, click HERE

Date: December 14, 2021


*Early data from South Africa hints Omicron variant may cause less severe Covid, but more research is needed – For more information, click HERE

*Travelling amid Omicron: What COVID-19 tests are needed to get to Canada, U.S. – For more information, click HERE

Date: December 5, 2021


PCR test rule dropped for short trips of less than 72 hours – For more information, click HERE

Date: November 21, 2021


*PCR test requirements at the border need to be re-examined – for more information, click HERE

*U.K. authorizes Merck antiviral pill, 1st shown to treat COVID-19 – for more information, click HERE

Date: November 7, 2021


*Air Canada launches portable self-administered COVID-19 molecular and antigen test kits – For more information, click HERE

*In Portugal, There Is Virtually No One Left to Vaccinate – For more information, click HERE

*‘Long overdue’: Tourism industry welcomes lifting of non-essential travel advisory – For more information, click HERE

*EU Pushes to Further Ease Covid Travel Curbs for the Vaccinated – For more information, click HERE

Date: October 23, 2021


*‘You’ve got to be vaccinated’ if you plan on taking a trip, PM Trudeau announces” – For more information, click HERE

Date: October 6, 2021


*U.S. plans to reopen border to fully vaccinated travellers in November 2021– The U.S. will begin reopening its borders to fully vaccinated foreign nationals starting in November.

*Most People Don’t Need Covid Vaccine Booster, Scientists Say – For more information, click HERE

*Where Canadians can travel abroad during COVID-19 – For more information, click HERE

*Vaccines still work: CDC studies show COVID breakthrough infections rate remain low despite Delta variant – For more information, click HERE

Date: September 18, 2021


*Canada among latest countries added to United Kingdom’s green travel list – For more, click HERE

*Vaccination Tracker: Worldwide – View HERE

Date: September 3, 2021


We’re continuously monitoring the vaccination rates and re-opening policies for various countries and also supplier policies as it relates to travel. More and more suppliers are becoming stricter on their requirements as to whom is able to travel with them.

Cruise lines are requiring only fully vaccinated guests to travel with them (at least for the next year or so). Fully vaccinated guests are considered those that are beyond 14 days of receiving their second dose of either two Astra Zeneca or a combination of two MRNA vaccines (Moderna/Pfizer) or both shots of either Moderna or Pfizer. Travel will certainly be “safer” with plenty of health and safety protocols in place globally across all travel components.

Other Updates:
*All air travellers, rail passengers and cruise ship passengers must be vaccinated against COVID-19: feds – for more information, click HERE
*Canada Announces Vaccine Passport for International Travelers – for more information, click HERE
*U.S. extends border restrictions with Canada until Sept. 21 – for more information, click HERE

Date: August 20, 2021


*Cruise ships allowed to sail in Canadian waters starting Nov. 1 – for more, CLICK HERE

*Canada looking at vaccine ‘passports’ for international travel, up to provinces for domestic aspects – for more, CLICK HERE

*Countries Open For Vaccinated Travelers: The Complete List – for more, CLICK HERE

Date: July 18, 2021


*COVID-19 in Canada: Fully vaccinated Canadians exempt from travel quarantine rules as of July 5 – For full details, CLICK HERE

*mRNA vaccines could offer long-term immunity to COVID-19: study – For full details, CLICK HERE

Date: July 3, 2021


*These Countries Are Open to Travelers With COVID Vaccines – Click HERE

*CDC lowers warning level for cruise travel – Click HERE

Date: June 20, 2021


*Canada easing COVID-19 hotel quarantine, isolation rules for fully vaccinated – For full details, click HERE

Date: June 9, 2021



*Over 60% of the Canadian population has received at least one dose of the vaccine!

*Vaccinated visitors to the front of the line for July 1 target in N.L. reopening plan – for more information, click HERE

“Air Canada has Rome flights starting July 2 that don’t require quarantine in Italy” – for more information, click HERE

“Airline trade groups urge Canada to put border-reopening plans in motion by June 21” – for more information, click HERE

Date: June 2, 2021


“CDC Loosens Mask Requirements, Shore Excursion Rules for Vaccinated Cruise Passengers” – For more details, click HERE

Date: May 13, 2021


“Canada inching closer to COVID-vaccine passports” – For more, click HERE

“Hoping for a less restrictive summer? Officials say 75% of Canadians need 1st vaccine” – For more, click HERE

“Vaccinated Americans Will Reportedly Be Allowed Back In Europe This Summer” – For more, click HERE

“Greece opens its doors to COVID-free tourists” – For more, click HERE

“US Cruises Could Start by Mid-Summer” – For more, click HERE

“Every Cruise Line Requiring Passengers to Be Vaccinated Before Boarding” – For more, click HERE

Date: May 1, 2021


CDC: fully vaccinated people can fly at low risk (while following health & safety protocols) – CLICK HERE for more

As of April 11th, over 18% of Canada’s population has received one dose of the vaccine. To see the COVID-19 Tracker for Canada, CLICK HERE

Date: April 11, 2021



“Second doses of COVID-19 vaccines can be given up to 4 months after first” – CLICK HERE for more information.

“Health Canada approves 4th COVID-19 vaccine as Pfizer agrees to accelerate deliveries” – CLICK HERE for more information

Date: March 8, 2021


Recent Updates

“14.5M Canadians to be immunized by June, updated vaccination timeline shows” – Click HERE for full article.

“Iceland’s ‘COVID-19 passport’ offers preview of debate over post-vaccine travel” – Click HERE for full article.

“What you need to know about the new travel restrictions” – Click HERE for full article.

Date: February 21, 2021


February Update:

*COVID-19 Testing at Toronto Pearson Airport – Click HERE for more information.

*Canadian Government cancels all flights to Mexico and Caribbean starting January 31st – April 30th. Canada’s major airlines affected: Air Canada, WestJet, Air Transat, and Sunwing. Click HERE for full story.

*Vaccines and treatments for COVID-19: Vaccine rollout. Click HERE to learn more.

*Cruise vessels banned from Canadian waters until February 2022. Click HERE to learn more.

Date: February 4, 2021


Updated News to Start off 2021:

“Pre-departure PCR test required for entry to Canada” – CLICK HERE

“Air passengers entering U.S. must have pre-arrival negative COVID-19 test” – CLICK HERE

“Supplier COVID-19 Updates: Airlines, cruise, hotels & tour ops” – CLICK HERE

“Canada to receive 1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses a week starting in April: general” – CLICK HERE

Date: January 17, 2021


Recent International Travel News for Canadians:

Pre-departure COVID-19 testing with negative results to be required for all air travellers coming to Canada.

Visit the Government of Canada site for more information, by clicking HERE

Date: December 31, 2020


More positive news!

“Health Canada authorizes Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine”

See further details, HERE 

Date: December 23, 2020


“First COVID-19 vaccines administered in Canada”

Click for full story, HERE

Date: December 14, 2020


‘Historic moment’: Health Canada approves Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine!

For full story, click HERE

Hawaii of interest? Pre-departure testing for Hawaii (and more) – WestJet expands pre-flight testing for Hawaii

For more information, click HERE

Vaccine/Immunity Passports?

  • ‘Vaccine passports’ may be required for traveling in the future. For more information, click HERE
  • Talk of coronavirus ‘immunity passports’ in Ontario – click HERE

Date: December 9, 2020


Air Canada partners with Shoppers to offer Covid PCR test

“Starting Dec. 7, eligible Air Canada flyers can book and buy a COVID-19 test at most Shoppers Drug Mart locations in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia.” To read more, click HERE.

Date: November 27, 2020


Airline body IATA develops mobile apps for COVID-era travel

“The goal is to help passengers to navigate COVID-19 travel restrictions and securely share test and vaccine certificates with airlines and governments, it said on Monday.” To read more, click HERE.

Date: November 23, 2020


Use ArriveCAN to enter Canada

Planning on traveling internationally? Be sure to register/sign in online or simply download the ArriveCAN app at least 48 hours prior to arriving into Canada and submit your quarantine plan digitally to not only save extra work at the airport upon arrival, but to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. For full details, click HERE.

Date: November 22, 2020


More Promising News!

Moderna vaccine – said to be 94.5% effective

Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine is 94.5% effective, company says

Date: November 16, 2020


Promising News Regarding a Vaccine!

Pfizer, BioNTech – Covid vaccine is said to be more than 90% effective

Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine may be 90% effective, early data suggests

Date: November 9, 2020


Recent News:

Vancouver airport to launch pilot project that offers rapid COVID-19 tests!

Vancouver airport to launch pilot project that offers rapid COVID-19 tests

CDC is lifting the cruise ban in US waters

“CDC (the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is letting the no-sail order expire on Oct. 31, setting the stage for a conditional, phased-in return to cruise ship operations.”

For more information, read by clicking here.

Date: November 8, 2020


Various Updates!

Date: October 22, 2020


Cruising – Larger Ships to Start Testing All Passengers and Crew:

“The Cruise Lines International Association says it will conduct COVID-19 testing on all passengers and crew for ships with a capacity of 250 or more people. Only guests and crew who test negative for the virus will be allowed on board CLIA ships.”

Date: October 6, 2020


“Edmonton International Airport has been chosen as the exclusive location to trial a new COVID-19 test that can produce results in seconds.” 

New rapid COVID-19 test taking off at EIA

“WestJet enhances no-charge COVID-19 travel insurance offering with U.S. coverage”

As of September 26th – Read more HERE.

Date: September 27, 2020


More positive news related to travel insurance with travel suppliers!


“WestJet has announced that it will be offering no-charge COVID-19 travel insurance coverage for eligible guests booking travel to Mexico, the Caribbean and Europe, including the United Kingdom.

Through its new partner TuGo, and for reservations made on or after Sept. 18, 2020, any WestJet air-only reservation including WestJet Vacations bookings for travel to and from Mexico, the Caribbean (excluding the U.S.), Europe (including the U.K.) and inbound to Canada will provide eligible guests no-charge COVID-19 travel insurance.

Coverage will be automatically applied at no additional charge to eligible guests at the time of purchase for travel until August 31, 2021 for up to 21 days. One-way travel reservations will also be eligible for coverage for up to seven days.

‘We know Canadians are seeking reassurance and our guests can now have confidence knowing they are protected against unforeseen medical costs related to the pandemic when choosing to book with WestJet,’ said Arved von zur Muehlen, WestJet Chief Commercial Officer. ‘Safety measures have been implemented across our entire travel journey and providing our guests peace of mind during their travels is worth the investment we are making to ensure the safest travel experience for our guests.’”


Collette Now Offers Coverage for COVID-19 on ALL Tours!

  • Purchase Collette’s “Cancel for Any Reason Travel Protection” at time of deposit and receive COVID-19 coverage in destination
  • Cancel up to 24-hours prior to departure for ANY reason and receive a full refund, minus the cost of the Travel Protection
  • NO Age Restrictions, NO Medical questionnaire’s to fill out prior to purchase
  • Pre-Existing Conditions waived when Travel Protection is purchased at time of deposit

Thank You,

Trip Merchant

Date: September 13, 2020


We wanted to share some information as it relates to what specific destinations or airlines are doing to provide you with comfort when traveling in today’s environment. Although we need to consider that the Canadian Government has now extended the 14-day quarantine upon return to Canada for when travelling internationally, travel insurance is still a big question for many avid travelers. Below you will see what some countries/airlines are offering:

“Canadians can travel to Portugal without restrictions, and only need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test (taken within 72 hours of arrival) if they’re heading to Madeira or the Azores.”

Portugal is the latest to offer insurance coverage for COVID-19

“Two Costa Rican companies sell pre-approved travel insurance plans: The National Insurance Institute (INS) and Sagicor.”

Visiting Costa Rica during the pandemic? Here’s what to expect

“Air Canada Vacations Sun Destination Packages to Include COVID-19 Coverage and Assistance Administered by Allianz Global Assistance.” Click link below:


“Emirates is the world’s first airline to provide free global coverage for your COVID-19 health expenses and quarantine costs.”

Emirates Offering Free Coronavirus Travel Insurance

“Canada’s two largest airlines and two largest airports are welcoming Transport Canada’s long-awaited Flight Plan for Navigating COVID-19 as a major step forward in restarting Canada’s air travel industry by confirming the country’s biosafety standards.” Click link below:


Thank You,

Trip Merchant

Date: August 30, 2020


We have been keeping a close eye on what our travel insurance partners are doing when it comes to out of country travel insurance and coverage for COVID-19.  Below are the updates we have thus far.

Blue Cross Ontario, Blue Cross Quebec and Medipac have introduced COVID-19 coverage into select policies.

Allianz reconfirmed that its policies will not include coverage for COVID-19 until the federal government drops the travel advisory against non-essential travel.

“I can confirm that Allianz Global Assistance Canada’s out-of-country medical coverage offered through our travel agency partners will not cover costs for treatment abroad related to COVID-19, until the international travel advisory is withdrawn,” says Dan Keon, Allianz’s Vice President, Market Management.

Keon adds: “To clarify further, if Global Affairs Canada begins lifting the travel advisories for individual countries, and no advisory is in place for a policyholder’s specific destination on their date of departure, the policyholder will be eligible for medical treatment related to COVID-19 while on their trip.

Manulife’s Director, Global External Communications, Gillian Earle, confirmed that Manulife’s stance remains as it was from the beginning of the pandemic in March. “As of March 13, 2020, the Government of Canada issued a level 3 Travel Advisory for the world (i.e. avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada),” said Earle. “When it comes to Manulife Individual Emergency Medical Coverage, if the Government of Canada has not issued a Level 3 or higher Travel Advisory for your destination prior to departure and you incur medical expenses related to COVID-19, those costs would be covered in accordance with the terms and conditions of the individual travel insurance you purchased.”

On July 22 Blue Cross reopened out-of-country travel insurance sales for Ontario Blue Cross and Quebec Blue Cross, and its emergency medical care benefit now includes coverage for COVID-19, providing the insured person does not show signs or symptoms of COVID-19 prior to departure.

Meanwhile direct-to-consumer insurance provider Medipac has released its Early Bird Travel Insurance promotion for 2020 – and it includes coverage for COVID-19.

Source Kathryn Folliott (Editor at Travelweek)

Trip Merchant

Date: August 13, 2020


While we continue to go about our daily lives, COVID-19 is still the main topic of conversation. We’re sure most of you have been tuning into the news about COVID-19; whether locally or paying attention to it on an international scale, but we’re sure there are also many of you who have decided to tune out of the news a bit. Though time will tell, we want to address that there has been some positive news or breakthroughs as of late, which shows there is progression:

  • Researchers or scientists have identified six types of COVID-19 which is a ‘major’ breakthrough for treatment that could also help doctors predict which patients are most at risk.
  • There has been development in possible treatments; such as a company in the UK which has conducted a clinical trial with preliminary results of a potential new treatment for COVID-19; reducing the number of patients needing intensive care.
  • There has been great news or progress related to vaccinations out of the USA, UK and even out of Canada.
  • Vaccine trials in the UK suggesting the injection is safe and triggers an immune response to help people fight coronavirus. The UK has already ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine. But it is still too soon to know if this is enough to offer protection and larger trials are under way.
  • There has been news related to a new filter or filtration system that can be useful in malls, schools, airports, which could be a way to help eliminate the spread of COVID-19.
    • Researchers have developed an air filter capable of killing the coronavirus on contact.
    • The filtration system exposes the coronavirus to levels of heat the virus simply can’t withstand.

Please note: On most of the travel supplier pages we’ve added their “Health & Safety Protocols” and their “COVID Terms & Conditions”.

Stay tuned for more!

Trip Merchant

Date: July 26, 2020



Episode 7 (July 7, 2020): Jonathan Sargeant from Royal Irish Tours – Discussion on COVID-19 as it relates Ireland / UK for guided tours and various travel options. 

Point Form Summary of Discussion:

  • Royal Irish Tours (RIT) – Canada’s leading tour operator to Ireland and the UK; 19 years in business; 99% of travellers are Canadian; guides have 10+ years of experience with the company; more inclusive with their trips from coach tours to driving holidays, city stays to rail journeys / they also have 3-4 day sightseeing tours which take no more than 16 travelers
  • Ireland / Ireland Tourism Board have been a leader in making sure that tourists attractions, hotels etc.. are, and, will be COVID free
  • As of July 7th there is still a mandatory 2 week quarantine upon arrival to the country, but due to be lifted soon
  • Air Canada and Air Lingus have been flying to Ireland from Toronto as of July 1
  • Why Ireland / UK? – ancestral ties (deep Irish and Scottish roots in Canada); ancient history; castles; iconic scenery and cliffs; 40 shades of green
  • RIT are providing a future travel credit to those who’s departure dates have been affected (many operators are doing the same and aligning with what the airlines have been doing, which is a credit for future use)
  • September their coach tours are set to run, but they may postpone to 2021 for coach touring due to the current uncertainty / strict laws on social distancing
  • A normal program with RIT averages approximately 33 passengers on a coach tour, but going forward it will be a maximum of 26 passengers on a 45-50 passenger bus/coach
  • There will be spreading out on the coach / plexi-glass
  • Anyone booking now for 2021 will receive 2020 rates
  • Lately they’ve received more future group requests (smaller groups) – family style trips / there are requests for next year, but with some hesitation at the moment
  • Popular style of travel in the future with RIT – smaller, custom groups; pre-set itineraries; driving holidays; remote travel out of the bigger cities; family travel
  • Ireland relies heavily on tourism and is a massive part of their economy – 250,000 people work directly or indirectly in the tourism industry
  • For the future, more planning will need to be considered in advance, as opposed to just “showing-up” – booking ahead of time to get space at an attraction; there will be a higher focus on health and safety of course and will be a number one priority
  • Other:
    • Canada made the “safe” list for travel to Europe (EU) – Canadians are allowed to enter Europe as of July 1st (includes many European countries, with some exclusions)
    • Canadian border closure extended to July 31, 2020 for international travel (foreign nationals entering Canada) and 14-day quarantine requirements for all people entering Canada extended to August 31, 2020

Stay tuned for our next episode!

Thank You,

Trip Merchant

Date: July 7, 2020


*At this time, members should make their travel decisions based on what their local Provincial Health Officer/Government is advising, followed by the Canadian Government. Through out assistance we will provide guidance when booking future travel. Currently, we do have people inquiring on domestic travel and even thinking ahead to 2021.

VIRTUAL TALKS – Episodes 5 & 6

Episode 5 (June 16, 2020): Vicky Lubyk from Paul Gauguin Cruises – Discussion on COVID-19 as it relates to small ship ocean cruising and the French Polynesian Islands.

Point Form Summary of Discussion:

  • Paul Gauguin Cruises (PGC) – since 1998; small ship ocean cruising; operate the award-winning m/s Paul Gauguin; 332 passengers onboard; they provide all-inclusive pricing, and sail to the unparalleled wonders of Tahiti, French Polynesia and the South Pacific; they spend more time enjoying some of the world’s most idyllic, unspoiled beaches and less time worrying about every little detail when it’s all been taken care of – from gourmet dining, onboard gratuities, select wine and spirits, and much more; owned by Ponant.
  • In their pricing model, they include the international non-stop/direct flights from LA/San Francisco, and if you need, they provide transfers/day rooms in destination
  • New vessel’s coming up in 2022/2023– 180 passengers on each ship
  • Destination of French Polynesia – Tahiti in a year receives the same number of tourists as Hawaii gets in just 7 days – unspoiled region of the world.
  • They seized operations in March
  • French Polynesia is opening up on July 15th to tourists / quarantine measures lifted
  • Only 60 cases in French Polynesia – last case was at the end of May. For the 60 cases, it was related to one person who came from France– travel was restricted between the islands
  • No cases onboard Paul Gauguin/Ponant ship(s)
  • Health and Safety Measures (Pre-boarding/Onboard experience) – click HERE for the Press Release details
  • Canadians currently can actually fly to the USA (but USA citizens cannot fly to Canada)
  • Things to be aware of when travelling: possibility of 14-day quarantine once they return / medical + travel insurance
  • For those whose departure dates have been affected PGC has been providing a 120% future cruise credit
  • PGC is starting again in July for local Tahitian’s / French charter group – end of July / August opening to the public
  • Days are over for self-serve buffets; will be more seated dining (not as much open dining with 2 separate seating assignments); cruisers are cruisers; pent up demand – especially small vessels, 2021 will pick up, cruisers will cruise, understand the value of the all-inclusive proposition, travel is important for people (to connect with loved ones etc..)
  • *Cruise line sector is far ahead and more prepared than hotels and airlines when it comes to health and safety measures (they’ve adapted, more prepared than most segments in travel)
  • PGC Sale on June 22 being released – extra offers (final payment and deposit flexibility)
  • October/November/December – hope to have more of the Canadian market sailing

Episode 6 (June 17, 2020): Sandra Gardiner from AmaWaterways – Discussion on COVID-19 as it relates river cruising worldwide. 

Point Form Summary of Discussion:

  • AmaWaterways – is known for its award-winning river cruise ships, exquisite cuisine, authentic experiences, and unparalleled service; journey through Europe/Southeast Asia/Africa; Family owned business; you’ll also enjoy innovations that include view-enhancing twin balconies, active hiking and biking excursions, invigorating wellness activities and a multi-course tasting menu at The Chef’s Table specialty restaurant; only focus on river cruising; Ships – 140-150 passengers (average size); generally more space on the ship – luxury of space; luxury product; almost all-inclusive; operate – 24 ships throughout the world (2 more new ships coming next year into the European market; starting a program in Egypt)
  • Why river cruising? Like taking a coach tour through Europe / and also like ocean vessel (no sea sickness) but smaller ships and more time on shore; docked in heart of villages and cities; intimate cruise experience
  • Technology / innovation – will lead the way in river cruising to enhance the travelers’ experience:
    • “myamacruise” app (helps with sustainability- eliminate paper; engaging app; create photo albums, send friends virtual postcard, itinerary etc…)
    • Technology instrumental in operating their business (offer internet onboard; computer systems in each stateroom to take advantage of – complimentary, increased bandwidth along the river – 4G onboard on all ships)
  • Suspended operations March 13th / Starting July for domestic travelers / mid-August (August 15th) for international visitors
  • Implemented future cruise credits for those affected between March to mid-August – offering 115% of the penalized portion of their vacation of the services they purchased through them; the balance, if a balance, would be refunded, but if under 100% penalty, then 115% of the full value that customers paid to them; for those who wanted full refund, they worked with them to do so but interestingly enough some that cancelled in March, want to re-book now (reinvest with Ama because customers know they will be around)
  • River cruises have always had high standards of hygiene; inspectors will come on the ship occasionally to assess (hygiene protocols are in place); but now due to COVID-19 these protocols will be enhanced
  • Health & safety protocols – click HERE for more details.
    • Crew will be screened, questionnaire for the guests, temperature checking, plexiglass at front desk, restaurants – staff will use face shields as opposed to face masks (still see their face and them smiling), no buffets on board / food will be served / assigned seating – likely 2 sittings for dinner time to spread people out, reduced capacity to 80-100 travelers to start
  • Shore excursions, always maintained a low amount of guests per guide (typically 12 passengers per guide for land excursions)
  • Trending destinations – Added Egypt (next September – 2021/22 lots of bookings); North of France program; Tulip cruise itinerary; Portugal always popular; Danube and Rhine have always been popular
  • April they were focused on re-booking; the last two weeks call volume has increased
  • As of right now, they have more people booked in March of 2021 than they have ever been historically – pent up demand/desire to travel
  • Ocean cruisers changing to river cruising style of travel
  • Sales – July 1st (1 day Canada Day offer) and other offers will follow
  • Travel for the future – physically distancing; wearing masks; small groups; health and safety number 1 concern from the company – to take care of them and protect their investment (and overall experience)

Stay tuned for our next set of episodes!

Thank You,

Trip Merchant

Date: June 16, 2020


VIRTUAL TALKS – Episodes 3 & 4

Episode 3 (June 1, 2020): Nick Roberti from Just You – Discussion on COVID-19 as it relates to solo travel.

Point Form Summary of Discussion:

  • Just You – solo touring; you have your own room, waive the single supplement rate, 25-30 travelers on average in a group (varies in program), Europe #1 seller (Highlights of Tuscany – best seller)
  • Suspended operations until end of July (some destinations/departures in August and September) – taking it day by day and following WHO, CDC and Canadian Government sites
  • Starting to see more inquires as of late for the future. For those affected, travelers have been or are rescheduling/transferring to 2021 as opposed to cancelling
  • Recent travel industry surveys have shared that 40% of consumers say they will travel this year, 45% will travel in 2021, and 5% plan to travel in 2022
  • Several travel styles offered with Just You – one style that is trending is their “Relax & Discover” brand – generally sunny destinations, 1 hotel/resort stay, unpack once, with day tours – perfect blend of relaxing and exploring. People who generally cruise are requesting this style of travel.
  • They offer some small ship cruising experiences, with an approximate 17 passengers on board (sailing to islands in Greece/Croatia)
  • Health & safety measures – no official statement policy; however, are working closely in destination with local travel partners, guides and hotels to ensure they have the proper protocols in place
  • Future of travel perspective – small group travel will be popular in the future
  • Refer to SKIFT to view the news/events about the reopening of various travel sectors around the world on a timeline- https://reopening.travel/reopening/
  • For more details, watch the video with Just You!

Episode 4 (June 2, 2020): Bruce Lidberg from TravelBrands (Exotik Journeys) – Discussion on COVID-19 as it relates to various travel styles, including long stay vacations. 

Point Form Summary of Discussion:

  • TravelBrands (Exotik Journeys) – established in 1983; one of the largest travel companies in Canada; TravelBrands offers a wide range of travel options – including flights, hotels, cruises, attractions, rail passes, car rentals and more (including long stay vacations); Exotik Journeys brand – Including independent travel and locally guided tours, to affordable long-stays and bespoke specialized itineraries (worldwide)
  • This has been a time of a lot of adjusting and adapting (and will continue to be the case as it is a fluid situation)
  • Focused on re-bookings and cancellations over the last couple of months, but seeing a recovery week by week for future travel which is encouraging
  • They do not control airlines or hotel partners and need to work with their partners terms/conditions (90 airline partners, 20 cruise line partners, 1000’s+ hotels) – follow their policies in place as it relates to cancellation/re-booking policies and health/safety procedures; policies are changing as the situation evolves
  • Travel credit for future travel is primarily what they are offering when departure dates have been affected, depending on the situation, destination/partner they are working with
  • Lots of unknowns looking into the future with regards to provincial or international travel and the restrictions in place
  • In times like these we need to adapt/innovate and it can create opportunities for travel in some areas, but some areas it will take time to bounce back
  • When we travel certain measures may be in place that will be acceptable to some cultures, but might be different for other cultures
  • Priority for every company is the health and well-being of travelers and do not want to have any setbacks which could affect travel – smaller groups, social distancing and other potential drastic measures may be in place
    • Portugal Certifies Establishments With “Clean & Safe” Stamp
  • We’ve learned the value of working with different reputable partners who step up to assist, help customers who’s travel plans have been affected – showing flexibility given the circumstances
  • Future of travel perspective – will look different, but will adapt as we have with other challenges in the past (like 9/11 and security measures that were increased at the airports); technology will play a big role in travel to reduce contact touch points; independent travel will be popular, such as long stay vacations, villa stays with family; we’ll have a higher appreciation and connection with the destination; there will be some potential positive changes that will come out of this as well with airlines not completely filling their planes
  • Refer to TripsGuard to view a list of countries including entry restrictions, rules, and quarantine information for Travellers- https://tripsguard.com/
  • For more details, watch the video with TravelBrands (Exotik Journeys)!

Stay tuned until our next episodes with Paul Gauguin Cruises and AmaWaterways!

Thank You,

Trip Merchant

Date: June 2, 2020


VIRTUAL TALKS – Episodes 1 & 2

May 20th, 2020 marked the beginning of a webinar series we are calling “Virtual Talks”. We will be conducting several webinar interviews or discussions with various travel suppliers that cover a range of travel styles and destinations worldwide, as it relates to COVID-19. The purpose of these discussions are to provide you with additional information associated with COVID-19 when traveling on a tour, cruise, by plane with a particular company or whether it is traveling to a specific destination. The end goal is to help you feel more comfortable when travelling, in general. We will be reviewing this unprecedented situation, in terms of how it looks now and how it potentially looks for the future. Each episode is between 20-25 minutes. Stay tuned for more episodes!

Episode 1 (May 20, 2020): Ron Lonsdale from Collette – Discussion on COVID-19 as it relates to Collette and guided touring/travel in general.

Episode 2 (May 21, 2020): Darcie Guarderas from Anderson Vacations – Discussion on COVID-19 as it relates to Anderson Vacation and travelling within Canada – Independent travel, self-drives and more.

Thank You,

Trip Merchant

Date: May 20, 2020


We hope you are continuing to keep healthy. Fortunately, there is some nicer weather throughout the country so it is easier for us to escape for some fresh air.

There are some positive signs regarding our daily life in terms of different provinces re-opening businesses; however, this does not mean we’re in the clear and it will take time in terms of being back to anything somewhat normal as various health & safety measures will be implemented. We will of course need to maintain social distancing and respect the space of others. Face masks, hand sanitizer, Lysol wipes and other protective options are something we are currently, and will need to continue, using in the future. Of course a vaccination is in the conversation and hopefully we’ll know the status or progress on this in the coming months.

In terms of travel, it is not a matter of IF we will travel again, it is a matter of WHEN and HOW we will travel going forward. As we know it, the way we travel will change and we’ll need to adapt to this new “normal” from our airport experience (check-in, boarding, flying) to let’s say, a cruise line experience, but it will eventually feel more comfortable as we’ve been through many changes over the years when traveling – again, we just need to adjust and be patient.

At this time many travel suppliers are planning to operate their trips July 1, 2020 onwards (until further notice), but with the reduced air availability and travel restrictions still in place, several destinations and programs will be affected by this. There are some travel suppliers that have decided to cancel departures up until the end of the summer and anticipate to commence operations September 1 (or later), and this of course is subject to change. More details should be unveiled within the coming weeks for various companies. Regarding airlines, airlines have started to incorporate new health and cleaning/sanitization programs to ensure your safety and well-being when flying. In terms of our main Canadian airlines, please see the below links:

Air Canada: https://www.aircanada.com/ca/en/aco/home/book/travel-news-and-updates/2020/cleancareplus.html 

WestJet: https://blog.westjet.com/westjet-health-and-safety-updates-during-covid-19/

Lastly, below is a link to the Canadian Government website. It provides further information from Transport Canada regarding the use of non-medical masks or face coverings in the Canadian transportation system:


Thank You,

Trip Merchant

Date: May 10, 2020


Click the below image to watch the video from our Co-Founder, Tom MacLean, sharing more details about COVID-19, how it is affecting the travel industry and what travel suppliers are doing to support booked passengers – as we await the opportunity to travel again.

Thank You,

Trip Merchant

Date: April 15, 2020


We hope you are keeping healthy!

We are sure that you all have been following the constant updates and advisories regarding COVID-19. Several suppliers are now suspending departure dates until the end of May and for some, up to the end of June.

On another note, we are happy to report as of a couple of weeks ago, and countless hours spent by our team, that all of our travelers who were abroad are now settled back at home – safe and sound. One of our cores values at Trip Merchant is, “Community” and there is no better time for us to come together as a travel community and save tourism! Travel continues to be at a standstill and for now the best thing for us to do is be patient, while staying optimistic. A tag line we are starting to use is, “Dream now, Travel later”.

Thank You,

Trip Merchant

Date: April 1, 2020


First and foremost, our hearts go out to those affected by COVID-19. We understand the hardships many are encountering during these unprecedented times. As you’re aware, this is a fluid situation with travel updates and announcements being shared day by day, even hour by hour, both locally and globally. We are all probably asking the same question, what’s next? Time will tell, but the world is in this together and we will get through it!

To keep you informed, the Canadian Government recently implemented new measures related to travel to help prevent further spread of COVID-19:

  • Canada is banning entry to non-residents (including Canada-U.S. border closed for non-essential travel)
  • Airlines ordered to ban those with symptoms from boarding
  • An assistance program will be in place to help Canadians stuck abroad
  • WestJet has made the decision to suspend international and trans-border flights, effective March 23rd for 30 days. Instead, in conjunction with the Canadian Government, they will be working to bring Canadians home.

We do have people abroad that we are working diligently with to ensure a safe return to Canada as quickly as possible. Per our previous update on March 12th, most travel companies are working hard to prevent further transmission of this virus, hence the reason why several suppliers are suspending operations from now until mid-April to mid-May, depending on the supplier and destination. Travel insurance providers, airlines and travel suppliers have had to make tough decisions recently, but at the same time are being flexible with their terms and conditions to make sure you can still travel – maybe not now, but in the future. The Travel Industry is resilient!

Now let’s switch gears for a moment. What is the definition of travel?

trav·el: “make a journey, typically of some length or abroad”

Why do we travel?

  • To learn (education)
  • To connect with another culture
  • To escape / have an adventure
  • To relax or rejuvenate
  • To meet people
  • To celebrate and enjoy life!

For all of us here at Trip Merchant, travel is not only a passion, but more so an obsession – I am sure many of you can relate! At this stage, travel may be at a standstill but the travel experiences and memories we all have will always be within us to cherish and reflect on. It’s also exciting to think about where to travel next…We do not know for sure what will unfold as it relates to travelling in the next month or two, and we understand travel may not be the same for some people going forward. However, it’s our attitude that will make the difference. Whether we travel in a month or longer, rest assured we will travel again.

We need to think positively and prepare for the future. The ‘world’s borders’ will eventually re-open and we believe, will be explored soon enough. Trip Merchant will continue to be on this journey, serving you as a member of your association by providing you with incredible travel benefits, amazing destinations to discover and wonderful memories to be made.

*At the bottom of this page you will see a section where you can leave a comment, titled “Leave a Reply”. We welcome your questions, comments, and would love to hear why you enjoy travelling, or even an exciting travel experience you want to share with other members! Then click “Submit”.

Thank You,

Trip Merchant

Date: March 18, 2020


A lot has evolved since our last update on March 6th. Please be assured that we are continuing to monitor the Canadian Government Travel website and the CDC site. The travel industry is not the only industry affected. The World Health Organization has formally declared the coronavirus outbreak a ‘pandemic’. Throughout this week our team has been working tirelessly to accommodate those whose travel plans have been affected. The travel suppliers we work with have contingency plans in place for the destinations and specific travel styles that are impacted. All travel companies are doing their part to prevent further spread of the virus by taking precautionary measures and being flexible in their change fees.

  • Ocean and River Cruise travel – As you already may know, several cruise lines are ceasing their operations for up to 60 days to help contain the spread of the virus. Options for cancelling/rebooking are available depending on the cruise line you booked with.
  • Tour Operators – Many of our partners are offering guests to change their departure date for travel later in 2020 for little or no penalty
  • Airlines – offering travelers to change flights to affected countries for no fee (terms and conditions apply)

If your travel date is May 1st onwards we encourage you to not change your travel plans until we know if/how they will be impacted. The industry as a whole is looking at approximately the next 60 days and hoping to resume regular travel come May, depending on further updates. With that being said, we will continue to monitor the situation closely and work with our partners on future contingency plans as they become available.

We can appreciate that there is some hesitation currently when it comes to making travel plans. In the meantime, during this “holding” phase, we will continue to work on curating unique travel experiences and member benefits.

Thank You,

Trip Merchant

Date: March 12, 2020


As the world is aware, we are dealing with a global health situation, which originated in Wuhan, China – Coronavirus. We understand this has a big impact on travel and there are growing concerns. Firstly, we want to advise you that this is top of mind for us here at Trip Merchant.

We are closely monitoring the Canadian Government Travel website, as well as the CDC website. The Coronavirus is having ‘limited’ impact on many destinations worldwide. For your information, there are four levels of travel health notices: Level 1: Practice usual precautions; Level 2 Practice special precautions; Level 3: Avoid non-essential travel; and Level 4: Avoid all travel. A vast majority of countries are recognized as safe and according to CDC, most are at Level 1, which means it does not recommend canceling or postponing travel to destinations with level 1 travel notices because the risk of COVID-19 is thought to be low. More specifically, when it comes to Coronavirus, there are only 7 countries currently with a Travel Advisory issued by Canada. To learn more click here.

While we recognize the seriousness of Coronavirus, we do need to avoid the fear-mongering tactics of the media and overall hysteria that is easy to get caught up in. There is plenty of misleading information being spread more rapidly than the disease itself. With the correct facts in mind we can avoid some of the negative attention this disease is causing. There are of course many unknowns, including where it will spread to next and when this virus will eventually subside. But rest assured, we are committed to your safety & security, and will continue to monitor the situation meticulously. Though many countries are deemed safe, we realize a lot can change between now and any upcoming trip departures. We will certainly keep you updated should there be any changes to your future travel plans. The travel industry comes together in times like this! Where possible there can be flexibility with your travel plans and several travel suppliers do have contingency plans in place.

When it comes to travel insurance, be sure to have this in advance to travelling and prior to any travel advisories being issued for the destination you’re travelling to. Also, make sure all boxes are checked so you are protected when it comes to trip-interruptions and medical expenses. For more information, contact your travel insurance provider.

We will continue to communicate with you based on the most up to date facts with the evolution of this situation, to not only help you stay informed, but also to making smart decisions when it comes to travelling this incredible world we live in. To receive additional information please visit the CDC website here. Any further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Thank You,

Trip Merchant

Date: March 6, 2020

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