TORONTO — Suppliers including airlines and tour operators are cautiously optimistic that Canada’s eased travel measures will help get the airline and travel sectors back on track.
The new measures, announced yesterday and taking effect Feb. 28, 2022, for fully vaccinated travellers, include: the option of antigen tests instead of PCR tests for the pre-arrival testing requirement; a return to randomized on-arrival PCR testing with no isolation while waiting for test results; no isolation requirement for unvaccinated kids under 12 travelling with fully vaccinated adults; and a downgraded travel advisory, to Level 2.
Here’s a look at what suppliers are saying:
“The removal of travel barriers for fully-vaccinated travellers and families is a positive step forward for our industry; we have been advocating tirelessly for these changes on behalf of our guests and our communities,” says Angela Avery, WestJet’s EVP, External Affairs. “As a fully-vaccinated industry, we have worked with public health authorities and all governments to curb COVID-19 and today’s announcement validates that travel has never been a significant vector of transmission.”
Avery says WestJet continues to advocate for the return to surveillance arrivals testing only and for the federal government to outline a recovery roadmap for the travel and tourism industry, based on science and reflective of the current realities of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As measures transition and Canada’s pandemic situation continues to improve, we are optimistic that the remaining policies will be reassessed and removed for fully-vaccinated travellers in the weeks ahead as outlined today by the Ministers,” she added.
“We welcome today’s government announcement, which marks an important step forward for Sunwing, the agent community and the broader travel industry as we collectively emerge from the effects of the Omicron variant,” said Andrew Dawson, President of Tour Operations for Sunwing.
Dawson adds: “As we look ahead to our spring/summer season, we expect that several measures will have a positive impact on bookings. This includes easing pre-departure test requirements for fully vaccinated travellers and eliminating self-isolation and testing measures for children under the age of 12.”
Sunwing will be updating the Travel Requirements page on Sunwing.ca, the Sunwing Agent portal and its agent Facebook page in the coming days, in anticipation of the effective date, with helpful information and resources, in addition to sending out email reminders around the changing requirements. Agents and customers can also look for updates on Sunwing’s hotel detail pages to reflect which resorts offer on-site antigen tests and associated costs for travellers. Additional communication will be provided on the Travel Advisories page and within the Sunwing App.
Sunwing’s updates will be made “all in an effort to provide our agent partners and customers with the latest information right at their fingertips, while helping Canadians return to travel with ease and confidence,” says Dawson.
“The Canadian travel industry can breathe a collective sigh of relief today as it gets set to join other key tourism markets in loosening the border restrictions and requirements that have made international travel more difficult in the wake of Omicron. While many people have continued to travel since the non-essential advisory was reinstated two months ago, there is a large segment of potential travellers who have been waiting for holidays to be made easier to take before committing to their long-awaited adventures,” says David Green, G Adventures’ Managing Director in Canada.
“My advice to agents now is to buckle up – the best is yet to come. There is a ton of pent up demand still waiting to be realized, which we are already seeing reflected in strong February sales results now lockdowns have been lifted. We only need to look across the pond to our colleagues in the United Kingdom – who in January celebrated their best month since the pandemic hit – to see what a huge difference the removal of PCR testing and travel advisories does for consumer sentiment.
“There’s now a huge opportunity to play catch-up. The combination of pent-up demand, easing of restrictions and testing requirements – coupled with winter fatigue – looks set to be the perfect storm we’ve all been waiting for.”