Industry leaders form new cross-Canadian coalition

OTTAWA — Major players in Canada’s tourism and travel sectors have formed a new coalition to restore the industry in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Called the Canadian Tourism Roundtable, the cross-Canadian coalition is calling on all levels of government to work together to streamline and clarify rules around travel in order to ensure safe, accessible and timely travel for Canadians as early as this summer.

The Roundtable comprises leaders from various sectors, including airports, airlines, hotels, chambers of commerce and others.

The $102 billion travel and tourism sector, which has been devastated by the pandemic, supports some 1.8 million workers across the country and accounts for 2.1% of the country’s gross domestic product. The unemployment rate in the tourism sector skyrocketed to 28.2% in April, up from 15.8% in March and 5.7% in February.

“The aviation, hospitality and tourism sectors were hit particularly hard by the pandemic,” said Perrin Beatty, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. “Although a return to pre-crisis conditions may be several years off, protecting this vital sector during the critical summer season will require a carefully calibrated and targeted response from government. Restoring tourism is important for all regions of Canada.”

Charlotte Bell, Chief Executive Officer of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) added: “The Roundtable is looking forward to working with governments across the country to take meaningful steps to ease travel and quarantine restrictions so that they are more targeted and less universal. Failing to do so risks permanently losing millions of jobs across the country that depend upon a robust tourism sector. Other jurisdictions, like the European Union and Australia, have already unveiled action plans to save the summer travel season.”

Roundtable members recently wrote to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau requesting a meeting to discuss appropriate, more targeted and urgent measures to get the sector back to work and to encourage Canadians to safely explore Canada this summer.

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