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Augusta travel industry struggles to regain footing in pandemic

Published: Aug. 10, 2020 at 11:26 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Whether the trips are for business, vacations with the family, or even historical re-enactments, COVID-19 is stopping a lot of travel plans. And nowhere is that impact felt more than the travel business.

From spring breaks to summer vacations, the coronavirus has disrupted travel plans globally.

People were forced to stay home during the peak seasons of traveling, putting travel agencies in a tough position since the pandemic started.

“All the plans that were set in stone for 2020 were just by and large got moved to 2021,” said Michael Kerbelis, owner of Southern Travel Agency.

The Southern Travel Agency specializes in international destinations and says the pandemic is changing the way he's doing business.

“Just dealing with the undoing of what we’ve already done for them and waiting or have already repositioned them for the following year,” Kerbelis said.

According to a travel market report, 88 percent of travel advisers are expecting business to be down by more than 50 percent by the end of the year, and 40 percent of travel questions are for domestic travel.

Kerbelis says his agency doesn’t see many people traveling within the U.S., but that’s slightly changed.

“Just like I said, Hawaii would be that destination right now,” Kerbelis said.

But even with flight cancellations and international travel halted right now, Kerbelis says people are starting to keep their trips booked.

“The standard right now are just saying let’s just push it another year ahead. Some people are cancelling but most people said we’ll go ahead and postpone it until next year,” he said.

Kerbelis says he will continue to book trips even with the changing climate of the pandemic.

“You know we’re just adapting every week and every day to figure out what we’re going to do for our clients and not do for our clients. We know one thing for certain: Our clients want to go and need to go,” he said.

Copyright 2020 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.

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