North Dakota travel industry bouncing back

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As COVID restrictions lift, more people are beginning to take those long awaited trips.

Last year, one industry came to a complete halt: the travel industry, including at the Bismarck Airport which saw historically low numbers.

“We went over the top on the rollercoaster and just took a nosedive. We had one day in 2020 we had 16 passengers board an aircraft here at the airport,” explained Greg Haug, the Bismarck Airport Director.

With all the safety protocols in place, Haug says they have noticed people are becoming more comfortable with flying.

“It’s probably the first time I’ve been on a plane in 18 months. Yeah, COVID, we didn’t do a whole lot. So going to visit my grandmother. She was sick with some heart issues. So we’re all vaccinated and so I think it’s time for us to go see her,” shared Blake Aiton.

Haug they’re expecting to see more travelers flying out for vacation before flying out for business.

“Leisure’s are going to come back first. We’re already seeing that now. I think the business travelers will, you know, start working their way back into the system, conventions and conferences and those types of things. Those will come a little later. But leisure travel, that’s going to be back here first,” said Haug.

Another industry that was completely shut down is travel agencies, but Cindy Graff with Graff Travel says it was a chance to prepare.

“It was a great opportunity for travel advisors to get training, to learn about destinations, to learn about cruising, to learn about travel trends and resorts. There’s always so much to learn,” explained Graff.

As more people inquire about traveling, they’re trying to figure out how to vacation during a pandemic with all-inclusive resorts at the top of the list.

“With an inclusive plan, it includes usually your airfare, your hotel room, it has all the food, all of the beverage programs, all of the tipping is included. You have beach activities. So people tend to go towards that so they don’t have to do any outside planning,” said Graff.

Graff says many of the all-inclusive resorts outside of the country conduct testing on-site before you fly home.

She says another big hit with travelers is driving to nearby destinations like Chicago or Denver and making stops along the way.

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