TORONTO — The travel industry’s calls for eased travel restrictions continue to be backed by some of the biggest names in the airline, tourism and retail travel sectors.
The Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable, which counts airline and hotel executives and heads of tourism and retail travel organizations among its members, yesterday sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, calling on the federal government to lay out a plan for the removal of pre-departure and on-arrival testing for fully vaccinated travellers.
The Roundtable’s letter comes as the industry waits to hear about updated border measures, with an announcement scheduled for today, Feb. 15, at 1 p.m. EST.
The Roundtable’s letter to Trudeau notes that Canada “is in a new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic – one marked by widespread vaccination and high levels of prior infection, and one which many Medical Officers of Health have called endemic.”
The Roundtable also points out that many countries, from the UK to Denmark, Switzerland, Ireland and Norway, have dropped COVID-19 travel restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers, and “we believe Canada should do the same.”
Noting that Canadians “have been among the most cooperative citizens anywhere in the world, rolling up their sleeves, staying home, and cancelling or adjusting travel or personal plans time and time again,” the Roundtable says it is calling on the federal government “to lay out a plan with a clear timeline for removing travel restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers and their children, including removing unnecessary pre-departure and on-arrival testing and isolation requirements and blanket travel advisories.”
Only 1% of all cases of COVID-19 in Canada have been related to travel. During the omicron wave, COVID-19 test positivity rate in Canadian communities reached 10x that, says the Roundtable.
“We strongly agree with the government’s repeated statements that Canada’s COVID-19 policies should be based on science but there is no logical or scientific reason that travel should be singled out as the only activity that requires testing and isolation.
“As provinces come out of lockdowns and with the spring and summer travel seasons on the horizon, we urgently request that the federal government allow the travel and tourism sector to reopen alongside all other sectors of the economy.”
The Roundtable has been an active force since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, all the way back to May 2020, holding countless media briefings, writing letters and more, all to urge all levels of government to work together to streamline and clarify rules around travel in order to ensure safe, accessible and timely travel.
The Roundtable’s letter to Trudeau, in what are hopefully the waning days of the pandemic, is signed by a who’s who of the travel and tourism industries:
Perrin Beatty, President and CEO, Canadian Chamber of Commerce
Monette Pasher, Interim President, Canadian Airports Council
Beth Potter, President and CEO, TIAC
Brett Walker, Chair, CATO
Heather McCrory, CEO, North & Central America, Accor
Paul Burns, President & CEO, Canadian Gaming Association
Philippe Rainville, President and CEO, Aéroports de Montréal
Erin Benjamin, President & CEO, Canadian Live Music Association
Michael Rousseau, President and CEO, Air Canada
Michel Leblanc, President and CEO, Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal
Patrick Doyle, Vice President & General Manager, American Express Global Business Travel
Joseph Randell, President and CEO, Chorus Aviation
Véronyque Tremblay, President and CEO, Association Hôtellerie Québec
Scott Beck, President and CEO, Destination Toronto
Wendy Paradis, President, ACTA
Nick Farkas, Vice President of Concerts and Events, evenko
Goldy Hyder, President & CEO, Business Council of Canada
Zita Cobb, Innkeeper, Fogo Island Inn
Jim Facette, Executive Director & CEO, Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums
Nancy Tudorache, Regional Vice President, Canada, GBTA
Deborah Flint, President and CEO, GTAA
Bridgitte Anderson, President and CEO, Greater Vancouver Board of Trade
Susie Grynol, President, Hotel Association of Canada
Patti-Anne Tarlton, Global Executive Vice President, Ticketmaster
Lydia Chen, President and CEO, InnVest Hotels
Jan De Silva, President and CEO, Toronto Region Board of Trade
Douglas Lavin, Regional Vice President, North America, IATA
Yves Lalumière, President and CEO, Tourisme Montréal
Don Cleary, President, Canada Operations, Marriott
Annick Guérard, President and CEO, Transat
Interim President and CEO, National Airlines Council of Canada
Interim President and CEO, WestJet