As summer nears and restrictions lift, local travel planners see travel interest rise


BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — According to local travel planners, a lot of people are itching to travel once again, but that travel may not be right away.

“As people get more comfortable with traveling, as the vaccine gets more prevalent and more people are getting vaccinated, we are seeing people are much more comfortable traveling in general,” said Gene Cossey, Executive Director of the Tri-Cities Airport.

“You’re looking into 2022 for the most part because people want to feel a little more comfortable that we are going to get to take this trip hopefully,” said AAA travel consultant Cecilia Campbell.

Travel consultants are seeing a trend of where people are headed in the nearer future.

“We have a lot of interest in the United States, obviously, and I have a lot of people that are leaving in the next couple of weeks on domestic tours that are doing like the national parks that sort of thing, so those are going well, but it’s slow,” said Campbell. “In this area, you have a lot of people that are trying to stay closer to home, I mean they might be going to Florida, places like that.”

The traffic at the Tri-Cities Airport tends to confirm that.

“We can see on Allegiant a lot of people are going down to Orlando and St. Pete where we connect to,” said Cossey.

Although Cossey says not everyone is traveling just for fun.

“People that are working from home realize they can work from anywhere, and so they have a tendency to go ahead and bring their laptop, bring their phone and go wherever they want to work,” said Cossey. “We’re seeing people come here to work, and we’re seeing people from here going other places to work. Which is great because it’s just continuing to stimulate the demand that we see, which means that the airlines are filling up their seats, which encourages them to add more seats to the market.”

If you’re going to book, travel experts say you better do it soon.

“I would say right now we’re pushing around 75-80 percent of that capacity and we’re hoping that through the summer we’ll get right back up to that full capacity,” said Cossey.

“For those of you booking new trips or even rebooking trips, do it as soon as you can because people who had booked last year that have been cancelled twice now started rebooking then,” said Campbell. “The airfare has been good, but I’m seeing it gradually increase, and I’m suspecting that in a few months it’ll probably be back to where it was in 2019.”

Campbell also says she sees a lot of people anxious to get back on cruises, but for cruises and international travel she’s advising people to wait until 2022 or even 2023.

For those looking to book trips, Campbell says now more than ever it’s important to get insurance.

“Even though most of these companies do not cover the pandemic, like if you decided ‘we can’t go because of the pandemic,’ they don’t cover that. But if you happen to get the virus while you’re on the trip, it does cover that,” explained Campbell. “Some of the companies have come out with cancel for any reason.”

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