OTTAWA — The Canadian Travel & Tourism Roundtable held a press conference Monday in Ottawa, calling on the federal government to immediately release a comprehensive, national plan to re-open the economy, ensure the free movement of Canadians across the country, re-open the U.S.-Canada border, and put in place a clear vaccination-certification program to allow entry to international travellers.
“The Canadian travel and tourism industry — and the Canada-U.S. border — has been effectively closed since March 2020. A holistic, Canada-wide plan is needed to provide certainty to businesses and Canadians. We are seeing provinces fill in the gaps that have been created by the absence of a federal re-opening plan and this will create confusion for travellers,” stated Beth Potter, president & CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada.
Despite receiving advice from the federally appointed COVID-19 Testing and Screening Expert Advisory Panel, the federal government has yet to publish a comprehensive re-opening plan for international and domestic travel, particularly around the admission of fully vaccinated foreign nationals into Canada.
“There is significant demand across Canada to travel. We urgently need the federal government to lay out a plan so that Canadians, and those seeking to safely travel to Canada, are not left behind. Other countries have done this. Our sector depends on this. Canadians are expecting this,” stated Daniel-Robert Gooch, president of the Canadian Airports Council.
This past weekend, Prime Minister Trudeau attended the G7 Summit where the leaders’ communique recognized “the importance to the global economy of safely re-starting international travel, by land, air and sea, and multilateral efforts to achieve this,” and stressed the need for “a set of common standards for travel, including interoperability and mutual recognition of digital applications, testing requirements, recognition of vaccination status including exemptions and comparable criteria for when responsive measures may be required.”
The sector is also calling on the federal government to announce clear travel policies for Canadians and foreign nationals travelling to Canada. Last week, the federal government announced its intention to remove the mandatory hotel-quarantine requirement for fully vaccinated Canadians and reduce quarantine upon the results of an arrivals test. Though this was a step in the right direction, the Roundtable says more policy changes are needed to support the travel and tourism sector recovery.
“It is imperative that we have logical, clear measures in place to facilitate travel within Canada and internationally. A piecemeal approach to policy announcements on travel will only raise more questions and create confusion,” said Perrin Beatty, president and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
“Canada cannot afford to be left behind as other countries around the world begin to reopen,” said Susie Grynol, president and CEO of the Hotel Association of Canada. “Without a clear plan in place, our vibrant tourism industry is at risk and people’s livelihoods are in jeopardy. Fully vaccinated travellers should be afforded the same opportunities, regardless of their nationalities.”