Independent advisors left “scrambling” in wake of new travel rules, says ACITA

Independent advisors left “scrambling” in wake of new travel rules, says ACITA

TORONTO — The Association of Canadian Independent Travel Advisors (ACITA) is “disappointed” with the lack of information provided by the federal government regarding its newly introduced travel rules.

Announced by Prime Minister Trudeau on Jan. 29, the new travel updates include Sun flight cancellations for Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing and Transat through April 30, 2021, the funnelling of all international flights to Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary, mandatory PCR testing at these four airports, and mandatory supervised hotel quarantines at a cost of up to $2,000.

The federal government had teased stricter travel rules leading up to the Jan. 29 announcement, the new measures were far more extensive than initially anticipated.

“While we welcome a decision and were hoping for a detailed plan, we again find ourselves disappointed with the lack of information, as well as the thought processes that went into this decision making,” said Nancy Wilson, ACITA co-founder.

Wilson added: “He opened his statement recognizing that only 2% of cases has been brought about by travel yet has again directed all his measures to protect Canadians from this virus by restricting travel. With only a cancellation of flights to Caribbean destinations, we feel this has not addressed the seriousness of the issues with community spread, or provided additional support to the provinces to get this spread under control, where the majority of the issues are, not to mention that the majority of critical issues with this virus are not originating in Caribbean destinations.”

Despite the lack of detailed information, said Wilson, the seriousness of the new measures will hopefully bring a newfound sense of urgency for sector aid, specifically for travel advisors.

“Airline staff and all related sectors are now in critical need for support to survive,” she said. “While they recognized airlines will need aid, no announcements on that leaves us again scrambling and concerned for the future of businesses.

“Independent advisors as well as travel advisors in storefront agencies and travel agency owners are at a greater risk today of shutting their doors for good, and the work we have ahead of us is paramount to ensure we can limit those closures as much as possible.”

Wilson did note one encouraging development: for the first time, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra made mention of travel agents in relation to sector aid during a press briefing on Jan. 29.

“We will look at this as a positive step forward and as an opportunity to further dialogue on the urgent need for commission protection with any bailout packages,” added Wilson.