TORONTO — Travel is taking off but the full restart is hampered by airport and passport delays, and now ACTA is calling on the federal government to take action.
ACTA President Wendy Paradis says ACTA is urging the federal government — including Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Sean Fraser, and Tourism Minister Randy Boissonnault — to act quickly to ease administrative burdens at airports and passport offices. ACTA is also calling on the government to temporarily bring in staff from other programs to help with shortages.
She says ACTA is engaging government on these issues and continues to advocate for removing all barriers to travel and tourism recovery.
“Canada’s travel industry, including travel agencies and independent travel agents, is just beginning the long road to recovery. It is essential that travellers have an efficient airport and passport process. ACTA has received reports of travellers cancelling reservations or deferring travel because of these delays, creating a further obstacle to recovery,” says Paradis.
Security lineup delays at Canada’s biggest airports, including Pearson and Vancouver, have led to mounting levels of frustration for travellers in recent weeks.
Earlier this month CATSA CEO Mike Saunders issued an apology for the inconvenience to air travellers resulting from the recent increase in wait times at some major airports. He says the federal Crown corporation is “aggressively working to address the situation”, adding that the long lineups are due mainly to staff shortages.
Days later the GTAA, which manages and operates Toronto Pearson Airport, put the blame for the delays on legacy public health requirements in response to the pandemic.
In its statement the GTAA urgently called on the federal government to….
- Streamline or eliminate inbound legacy public health requirements at Canada’s airports, and in doing, help to alleviate bottlenecks for international arriving passengers;
- Eliminate random testing upon arrival from Canada’s airports and look to effective and proven options such as community wastewater testing;
- Invest in the necessary government agency staffing and technology to achieve globally competitive service level standards; and
- Engage with the U.S. Government to ensure staffing and capacity at pre-clearance sites return to pre-pandemic levels
Meanwhile the wait times for passport renewals and applications have soared. The federal agency aims to process passports within 20 business days for mail-in applications, but by late April the wait was averaging 26 days.
Consumer news reports showing long lineups outside passport offices, with some would-be travellers camped out for hours, have been rampant.
The current situation just adds insult to injury for an industry that has already suffered extreme challenges for two years, she added.
“Considering the devastation that travel agencies and independent travel agents experienced throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, with most experiencing revenue losses of over 90%, administrative hurdles such as these are unacceptable,” said Paradis. “The onus is on the government to fix this without delay, so that a travel and tourism recovery can recover.”