Geraldton’s travel resurgence takes flight

Lachlan AllenGeraldton Guardian
Flight Centre Geraldton is getting more customers than before COVID, according to manager Daniel Owen.
Camera IconFlight Centre Geraldton is getting more customers than before COVID, according to manager Daniel Owen. Credit: Lachlan Allen

One Geraldton travel agent is getting more customers now than they did before COVID, as the travel bug resurgence builds in the weeks after the State Government reopened the hard border.

Following a tough two years for Flight Centre and Helloworld, the local travel agencies were given a lifeline on March 3 when the hard border restrictions were eased.

Manager of Flight Centre Geraldton, Daniel Owen, said “it’s been great, we’ve seen a big influx in customers”.

“We have moved to appointment-based only because of the amount of customers that come in, we can’t keep up with the walk ins,” he said.

“It took a few weeks for people to sort of build a bit of confidence. We’re busier now than what we were before COVID.”

Mr Owen said people were eager to travel the world after being stuck in WA for two years.

“It’s a long time to keep people cooped up in their homes, in their country towns. So I think as soon as the borders opened everyone’s travel bug has come back.”

He said many people got burnt booking online due to COVID and were now turning to travel agencies for help.

“We’re still definitely getting our repeats but the amount of new people that have never booked with Flight Centre because they’re worried about COVID and they want our support, they want that person that they come and talk to,” Mr Owen said.

“I think that’s why we’re not going anywhere, we know were not, there’s always going to be a place for travel agents because booking online is such a risk.”

Owner of Helloworld Geraldton, Katrina Miragliotta, said she had experienced a similar increase.

“I would say that it’s pretty much doubled or tripled in regard to inquiries,” she said.

“I’m seeing a lot of people booking to go see family overseas, because they haven’t seen their family for two or three years.”

Mrs Miragliotta said the most popular destinations include the UK, US, Sweden and South Africa.

She said negotiating the different restrictions for each country was a challenge for travellers.

“Every country has different rules, every airline has different rules. Even just to come back into Australia or WA you’ve got rules. It’s constantly changing daily, so something that I would advise a client today could change within a week. It’s just keeping clients informed, closer to their date,” she said.

“So somewhere like the UK they’ve eased their restrictions, so anyone can come and go, but then other countries you still need to have the PCR tests to get in.”

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