It is such a joy to write something with positive undertones for the first time in two years.

When the COVID-19 pandemic reached Canada and the federal government shut its borders to non-essential travel, our sector was hit disproportionately. We lost two critical summer seasons and endured almost two years of sustained revenue loss. But now, after an inconceivable fight for survival these past 24 months, it appears the tide is finally turning, just in time for the summer season.

We’ve coasted over Omicron, hospitalization rates continue to drop, immunity continues to grow and Canada remains one of the highest-vaccinated countries in the world. In response, all provinces have announced re-opening plans and hope is in the air.

But building back a sector that was so deeply devastated will take months and years of hard work. So let me take this opportunity to share with you Hotel Association of Canada’s focus for 2022 as we set out to do exactly that.

First, we need to re-open our borders completely for fully vaccinated travellers. (As of publication time, the federal government had announced that it would drop testing requirements to enter Canada on April 1, 2022) The industry needs predictability at the border in time for the summer season and we need a better border strategy for future variants. We will also be pressing the government to change its narrative around travel from cautious and negative to one of positivity and encouragement.

Second, we need to adjust the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program to provide weighted subsidy support as the industry builds back over the spring. The program cannot wind down prematurely.

Finally, we need a national labour strategy that prioritizes and promotes the return of workers to hotels in Canada and opens up streams of international workers to our sector. One of the biggest threats to the tourism sector’s recovery this summer and beyond is a lack of people to fill job vacancies. Already challenged by labour shortages, the tourism sector lost one million workers between March and May of 2020. Frequent lockdowns and instability have driven hundreds of thousands of employees from the sector. We are asking the government to work with us to implement a labour strategy that will meet our sector’s unique needs.

These three asks form the basis of HAC’s Roadmap to Recovery.

Our success is your success. Get involved and let’s keep the pressure on so we can accelerate the industry’s road to recovery.

By Susie Grynol

Susie Grynol is the president of the Hotel Association of Canada.


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