El Pasoans heading to Hawaii and Mexico as leisure travel increases


EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — As more people are getting the COVID-19 vaccine, more are hopping on planes. The El Paso International Airport saw a 19.6-percent increase in travelers in March 2021 compared to March 2020.

El Paso travel agency Sun Travel says things have really picked up in the past three weeks with El Pasoans booking vacations.

“The more popular destinations that we’ve been selling are Hawaii, number one since Hawaii is back open and a lot of people obviously love the sun and the sand,” said Paul Coleman, president of Sun Travel. “Mexico and the Caribbean have been popular for several months now, even during COVID they were open last fall.”

Coleman said more people are reaching out wanting a travel agent to help with planning as there are now more restrictions and requirements when traveling, especially out of the country.

“What happens if you somehow get a positive test or you truly do come down with COVID, how do you reschedule? Insurance is a big issue people have a lot of questions about what does travel insurance cover,” said Coleman.

His advice is to be prepared and know what type of testing or quarantine will be required for your vacation.

El Pasoan Zach Holloway could be seen walking into the El Paso International Airport on Wednesday, bags packed headed for Cancun, Mexico. He told KTSM 9 News he will have to get multiple COVID-19 tests, including a negative test, before flying back to El Paso, but says it will be handled by his resort.

“They’re going to test us before we go in, make sure we’re negative and then we’ll stay on the grounds there so we’re not bringing any COVID in or out. And before we leave they actually test us again before leaving,” said Holloway.

Crystal Caire, another El Pasoan also catching a flight on Wednesday but to Dallas, said that for now she’s traveling in the U.S., but is planning a trip to Bali Indonesia for the end of 2021. However, she says she is a little fearful with all the COVID-19 requirements and the need for a negative test.

“I mean I’d be concerned because I have to go, so I don’t want to be stuck over there, but I am vaccinated. I have my vaccine card so hopefully, I’ll be fine,” said Caire.

While certainly more people are packing their bags, overall, travel is still down compared to where it was in March 2019. According to the El Paso International Airport, travel is down 39 percent from March 2019.

The El Paso International Airport sending us this statement.

“Although we are not seeing the amount passengers we had pre-pandemic, we are seeing a higher than expected increase in passengers from last year. We are optimistic as we head into the summer travel season and expect to see more and more passengers flying again, especially as more people receive vaccinations and restrictions begin to lift around the country. All destinations are scheduled back in June plus the addition of Charlotte in August, a response to the increased demand in air travel in our community.”

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