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ACV responds to Canada’s new COVID test rule

TORONTO — Like other tour operators as well as airlines, Air Canada Vacations has been working hard to help travellers after the federal government announced its new COVID-19 testing requirement for all incoming passengers.

The news, which broke on Dec. 30 when many travellers had already departed for New Year getaways, set off a chain of events at ACV, all designed to reassure clients and ensure their safe return home. The Jan. 7, 2021 start date was announced on Dec. 31.

Speaking with Travelweek, Selma Filali, Senior Director, E-commerce, Marketing and Sales Communications, says that on Dec. 31, ACV immediately emailed customers and their travel agents to inform them of the new re-entry rule, posting the guidelines to its website at several key user touchpoints. That same day, the company also provided all ground handlers and hotel partners with the updated government directives, as well as a detailed list of local facilities offering PCR testing so that they could, in turn, share the information with any customers already in destination ahead of their return home.

Filali adds that on Jan. 2, ACV posted the full list of in-destination testing facilities to its private Facebook page for the trade to ensure that travel agents had the tools necessary to respond to their clients’ needs. In addition, she says that the company will soon be sending a list of frequently asked questions to help its trade partners navigate these new requirements.

“Although we have no control of the directives imposed by the government, or how information related to them is rolled out, we understand the importance of helping our customers stay informed,” says Filali. “We urge all travellers to visit the Government of Canada website for the most accurate up-to-date information as we continue to update our own channels as the situation evolves.”

Canada’s new requirement mandates all passengers arriving in or returning to Canada to present proof of a negative PCR COVID-19 test within 72 hours of their scheduled departure. The new rule applies to all passengers ages five and up, and is meant to be a complementary measure to Canada’s ongoing 14-day quarantine.

Airlines including Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing and Transat have updated info pages on their websites with guidance in light of the new rule. Meanwhile both the National Airlines Council of Canada and IATA have expressed major concerns with the rule, stating it will further delay the recovery of travel and tourism.

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