Emmanuelle Legoff: We have been waiting impatiently for this announcement for months. There is obviously a lot of impatience on the side of our customers, but also on the side of our team.
Aid in Canada and even more in the United States was not at all the same as in Europe, we suffered financially.
We have used all possible aid, but we have made significant financial efforts to maintain a team ready to leave when travel resumes. All salaries have been reduced during the whole pandemic and we have unfortunately had to let quality employees leave, it’s difficult!
Our team was exceptional, they all made sacrifices and reinvented themselves to stay in this industry they are passionate about and continue the adventure with us.
To date we have (excluding guides) a remarkable team of 32 professionals, ready to organize the best future trips. We ask all guides and drivers to be vaccinated to work with us in the USA and Canada.
TourMaG.com – All the terms have not been revealed, in particular the precise date of the opening of the borders. Do you have more information?
Emmanuelle Legoff: We would like to say yes! But unfortunately we don’t have direct access to the White House.
We are members of several organizations and everyone has the same information at this point.
At least for Canada it’s clear because it’s already open to Europeans, while the USA is announcing the beginning of November (no exact date at this stage but it won’t be long).
Similarly, we do not yet know the minimum age for vaccination, what we do know is that there will be exceptions for children who are not eligible for example.
The vaccines that will be authorized with certainty are Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, Janssen (Johnson & Johnson). The AstraZeneca vaccine is accepted for Canada and although the information is not yet official, it seems clear that it will also be accepted for the USA.
A negative test less than 3 days old will be required. It is likely that the only test accepted will be PCR in the USA – which is already the case in Canada but this remains to be confirmed.
For group travel, it is important to specify that to date in Canada coaches are limited to 39 passengers + guide. For the USA there is no announced limit.
A certain number of visits and services will require proof of vaccination or masks. Masks are notably mandatory inside all federal sites in the USA.
For Canada, it is requested to download the ArriveCan application and fill in 3 days before arrival. Once there, customers must have their paper proof of mandatory double vaccination and comply with local health rules which may vary from province to province just as they vary from state to state in the United States.
TourMaG.com – Have you or will you reconnect with agencies and TOs on the French market?
Emmanuelle Legoff: We stayed in contact with our customers throughout the pandemic. This is essential for everyone’s morale!
We will be present at the IFTM, despite the absence of the United States and Canada who have canceled their presence.
TourMaG.com – How do you see this recovery?
Emmanuelle Legoff: It is certain that the USA and Canada are in a good position. The significant vaccination of the population and the quality health system in the event of a problem reassure travelers.
The TO schedules for 2022 are almost the same as pre-Covid so it’s very encouraging.
We hope for a recovery as fully as possible. We are ready to return to pre-pandemic volumes in 2022 but still expect a gradual recovery.
We have also taken the time to develop new products, so we hope that these will find their place in the market.
TourMaG.com – What is the record on your side, are you ready to leave?
Emmanuelle Legoff: The results are obviously difficult after 18 months of non-activity.
Providers withheld significant deposits in the spring of 2020 following cancellations, but we will be able to use them for rescheduled groups.
We have kept in touch with many of our suppliers during this difficult period, the vast majority of them surviving with the domestic travel boom. For example, Yellowstone recorded 921,800 recreational visits in August, a record number!
It is certain that at the end of this crisis, our cash is very limited and that we will not be able to advance cash for travel. It seems clear, on our destinations in any case, that prepayment will be essential.
Besides that, Go West Tours is solid, we will celebrate our 30th anniversary in the fall of 2022. We lived through September 11, 2001 and the difficult 2-3 years that followed.
We own our offices in San Francisco. Our team is fully ready to resume activity and we can’t wait to see the customers who have trusted us by postponing their trips, 2 times, 3 times or even more, get back on the road.
TourMaG.com – Will the service providers on site also be ready for this recovery?
Emmanuelle Legoff: We welcomed our first European group on September 13 in Canada and are operating European circuits in Canada and American circuits in the USA this month.
Clearly this is a lot of work as the rules vary from provider to provider.
Some services proved impossible, but for the most part the circuits are going well and the customers are very satisfied. We are ready for a great year 2022!