COVID-19 has turned our world upside down as we know it, and soon we will be facing a new normal. After self-isolation is complete, people are going to want to escape their homes — whether it is to the mall, a restaurant or on vacation. 

As you make your plans and start re-exploring your community and the world, I implore you to support small businesses such as boutiques, locally-owned restaurants and travel agents. Our livelihoods have been devastated and we need your support. 

Yes, travel agents still exist and during this pandemic we have proven to be more valuable to travelers than ever before. There are countless stories of travel agents who have helped their clients return home after being stranded. Travel agents who have lent an ear and empathy, calming those who are scared. 

Travel agents are your advocate. As travel agents, we have close relationships with nearly every major travel supplier and can advocate on your behalf. We are committed to working diligently with your best interests in mind. 

Travel agents save you time, energy and aggravation. Your time is valuable and should be spent with family. We call your vacation provider (cruise line, hotel, airline, tour operator, etc.), so you don’t have to wait on hold for hours on end. We can explain to you complex cancellation and re-booking policies and are here to address your concerns. 

Travel agents are always here for you. We are available day and night to answer your questions, and when you work with a locally-owned agency, you are guaranteed to always speak with the same person. And because we are not in a call center, the travel agent you called will always call you back in a timely manner. 

In a normal environment, we are here to make your vacation as seamless as possible — from the research and booking stages to planning excursions when you are away and taking care of the logistics of your return trip home. Nothing has changed since COVID-19. We have been and always will be there for you. 

Also, booking your vacation with a travel agency is supporting a small business. There is a light at the end of this tunnel, and you are going to want to go on vacation and live life to the fullest by checking items off your bucket list. When you do book with a travel agent, we are dedicated to making your vacation dreams become a reality and in turn, you are helping us make our business dreams come true. 

So please remember to use a travel agent the next time you book a vacation — we promise, you won’t regret it. 

— Barbara Cimmarusti, travel agent with Coral Reef Travels Dream Vacations

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