A year ago, Mary Ann Winterton owned the Travelworld locations in both Collingwood and Wasaga Beach, Ontario. Last fall, she closed the Wasaga location, moving the lone employee remaining there to the Collingwood office.
However, as reported in local media, Winterton did not want this to be the end of her business.
More than a year after the beginning of the pandemic, Winterton is down to herself and two other employees, all of whom are mostly focused on trip cancellations and issuing refunds. In the summer of 2020, they were cycling thorough cancelling and rebooking trips, then cancelling again as the pandemic continued.
“We couldn’t just close our doors,” she said. “We had to help people. We had people stranded all over the world who we had to get flights back for, and we had people wanting refunds and their trips cancelled. I’ve owned this business for 32 years, and I just don’t want to walk away. I did have to walk away from Wasaga Beach, which broke my heart, but what can you do?”
According to Winterton, government support programs have helped. She knows it hasn’t been enough for many, and she estimates about 300 travel agencies across Ontario have closed.
“It has been a fight, and we’re losing money every single day, but we’re hoping for a brighter future,” she said.