CATO welcomes new members ACV and RIT

CATO welcomes new members ACV and RIT

TORONTO — Both Air Canada Vacations and Royal Irish Tours have joined the Canadian Association of Tour Operators (CATO) as the association continues to work on rebuilding the travel industry amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Brett Walker, Chair of CATO, says, “The more members, the greater the influence and the better the chances we’ll see a recovery sooner rather than later. Successful lobbying by CATO and others has achieved its first milestone – essential aid. Now we must double-down and work even harder on recovery efforts.”

There’s strength in numbers and CATO is on something of a membership drive as the industry navigates these challenging times. New members can join for just $250, says Walker. CATO has also suspended membership fees for current members through the end of 2021. Walker says CATO wants to encourage members to continue their partnership throughout the pandemic.

During the last CATO meeting in September, Perrin Beatty, President & CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce; Tom Jenkins, Director of the European Tourism Commission (ETOA); Terry Dale, President & CEO of the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA); and Walker all spoke of the dire need of a plan for recovery amid the pandemic.

Businesses have an even greater interest in keeping the public safe than governments do, says Walker. CATO, in conjunction with the ETOA and USTOA, has established clear and transparent protocols (TOURCARE) to reassure travellers and government officials that Canada can re-open its borders safely and eliminate the need for the mandatory 14-day quarantine.

The industry has acted and implemented public safety measures, but government inertia has hampered and even restricted any recovery, says Walker.

“Government must lead Canadians forward, on a clear path toward the restoration of not just public health, but public health AND the economy. This means working toward a perfect solution but accepting current realties. Government must put forth criteria to serve as baselines of acceptance and supporting recovery that exceeds these baselines. This is critical for any recovery,” says Walker.

He says CATO will continue to work with other industry stakeholders in an effort to advance the organization’s goal of enabling Canadians to travel safely, without restrictions, and rebuilding the travel industry.

Walker can be reached at