TORONTO — Leaders from Toronto’s tourism industry are urging the federal government to release a comprehensive plan for the resumption of international travel into Canada as many attractions are now at risk of permanent closure.
Spokespeople from Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, Mirvish Productions, Hilton Hotels, the Toronto Region Board of Trade and the Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable (CTTR) expressed concerns about the impact of ongoing COVID-19 restrictions on businesses relying on tourists at a recent press conference.
Analysis from CTTR member Destination Toronto has shown that the city lost out on more than $8 billion in economy activity through visitor spending — increasing to $14 billion for the Greater Toronto Area.
“The Ripley’s Aquarium has been shuttered since November 2020, and has had no revenue coming in. We are now well into the summer season, our busiest time of the year, and have no direction as to when we will be able to re-open, says Peter Doyle, general manager of Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada. “Toronto is one of the most vaccinated places in the world, yet the government has failed to tell Torontonians and Toronto businesses what they can look forward to as the vaccination effort continues. We have all been left in the dark. As a result, our business is struggling.”
“Mirvish has remained dark since the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the provincial government has started to provide guidance on our re-opening plan, we’re a long way away from our return to normal. Toronto’s theatre scene is world-class and attracts visitors from around the globe. International theatre-goers are critical to the health of our business,” says John Karastamatis, director of Sales and Marketing, Mirvish Productions.
“American tourists that are fully vaccinated are currently making decisions on where they will spend their vacations and where they will spend their dollars. Canadians are sitting at home waiting for the call from their employer waiting to hear if they have a job this summer,” says Christopher Bloore, president and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO). “It’s time the federal government released its plan to re-open the border, so that our industry can plan to re-open, re-hire Ontarians and start to re-build our industry.”