TORONTO — Industry reaction to yesterday’s news about Canada’s upcoming border reopening has been swift and supportive, with key travel and tourism organizations recognizing the impact it will have on the sector.
However those same groups caution that more work needs to be done to reopen travel, especially to kickstart the outbound travel industry.
ACTA along with the Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable, the National Airlines Council of Canada (NACC), the Canadian Airports Council (CAC) and the Tourism Industry of Association of Canada (TIAC) all released statements in the wake of yesterday’s announcement, which states that starting Aug. 9, 2021, fully vaccinated American travellers will be allowed to enter Canada for discretionary travel. The border will reopen to fully vaccinated travellers from any country for discretionary travel nearly a month later, on Sept. 7.
Though yesterday’s news marked a major milestone for Canada’s travel industry, it has yet to be determined when fully vaccinated Canadians will be allowed to enter the U.S. for non-essential travel.
Also Canada’s travel advisory against all non-essential travel is still in place, although the industry will be watching for changes on that policy in the weeks to come.
Here’s what each organization had to say following yesterday’s news:
ACTA President Wendy Paradis said it is especially encouraging to finally see that border restrictions are being eased for non-essential travel. “This has been long-awaited and is a great step forward!” said Paradis.
“ACTA is very encouraged by the news today about fully vaccinated Americans being allowed into Canada as of Aug. 9 and fully vaccinated international travellers in September. We are also very glad to see that the quarantine requirements for children under 12 will be eased and that inbound PCR testing will be moved to random Aug. 9,” she said.
“Of particular importance to ACTA members will be the easing of travel restrictions for Canadians. Currently there is still a travel advisory to “avoid all travel outside Canada.” ACTA has strongly advocated that this should be modified and we hope that this follows in short order in alignment with today’s announcements. ACTA will be following up with the government and advocating for this.”
CANADIAN TRAVEL AND TOURISM ROUNDTABLE
Noting that the announcement marks and important first step in salvaging what is left of the Canadian summer travel season, the Roundtable, which comprises leaders in the tourism and travel sector, noted there’s still a lot of work to be done and that many questions remain regarding reopening to fully vaccinated Americans and other international travellers. It also called for the government to encourage Canadians and other fully vaccinated foreign travellers to travel across Canada.
“We welcome the federal government decision to reopen Canada’s borders. This is the lifeline so many Canadian businesses need to survive,” said Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Canada. “However, now that the borders are reopening, it is time for the government to start encouraging fully vaccinated Canadians to travel. The industry depends on it.”
The Roundtable said it looks forward to working with the government on specific implementation details and to help re-instill confidence among Canadians around the safety and feasibility of travel.
TOURISM INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION OF CANADA (TIAC)
Beth Potter, President & CEO of TIAC, welcomed the news on behalf of the organization, which has been “tirelessly advocating for a science-based plan for reopening our borders and restarting our visitor economy.”
However, she added that while it’s important for Canadians to travel in Canada first as restrictions ease to support the domestic industry, international tourism remains crucial to stimulating international trade and foreign investment.
“Today’s announcement is very welcome news. However, at the right time, we need to eliminate the requirement of a PCR test for fully vaccinated travellers as it is not supported by science. We also need elected leaders to build public confidence in travel and to understand that tourism businesses are prepared to offer experiences following all of the necessary health and hygiene protocols. The tourism economy is ready to welcome visitors back. We look to our governments to shift to this message as things evolve,” said Potter.
NATIONAL AIRLINES COUNCIL OF CANADA (NACC)
The NACC says Canada’s major airlines look forward to the re-opening of Canada’s border to fully vaccinated international travellers, but note that further action will be required to enable recovery of the sector.
“As an industry, we have been calling on the government for months to provide a clear restart plan utilizing science-based measures. Though we have almost lost the summer travel season, today’s announcement provides clarity and timeframes that will allow consumers to plan, and the travel and tourism sector to begin welcoming fully vaccinated foreign travellers once again,” said NACC President and CEO, Mike McNaney.
“We are certainly pleased to see firm dates for re-opening of our border for fully vaccinated travellers and elimination of hotel quarantine. But as the new measures take effect, we still firmly believe the government must take further steps and follow the clear recommendations released by Health Canada’s Expert Panel report including lowering quarantine duration for non-vaccinated and partially vaccinated travellers. We will be ready for August and September. But further policy changes will ultimately be needed to support the successful re-start of the industry and the tens of thousands of aviation jobs that have been impacted by the pandemic.”
CANADIAN AIRPORTS COUNCIL (CAC)
The CAC says Canada’s airports are encouraged to see the return of international access for five communities, an end to hotel quarantines, the elimination of temperature screening of travellers and airport workers, randomized arrival testing, and new rules for children under 12.
“The measures announced today will greatly facilitate recovery in air travel to Canada over the coming months, and improve the travel experience. It is a testament to the hard work of Canadians to get vaccinated,” said CAC President Daniel-Robert Gooch.
“While the return of direct international air services to the remaining Canadian airports remains to be confirmed, the steps announced today are important to help our battered visitor economy begin to recover.”
The CAC notes that more than 20 additional Canadian communities await the return of international air service. “It is very encouraging to see Canada open up to international travellers and Canada’s airports look to engaging with the federal government on the measures announced today and those still required to fully open up Canada,” said Mr. Gooch. “Airports are pleased to see five additional communities gain access to international flights. However, prior to the pandemic, more than 20 more Canadian communities had regular flights to the U.S., Caribbean, and Mexico, and are anxious to confirm when international air access will return. Timing is important, as seasonal service to sun destinations typically begins in the fall and Canadians are already planning their winter vacations.”