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TORONTO — Industry execs from Canada’s major airlines as well as several tour operators, retailers and host agencies issued an urgent call to government officials today, saying that as other countries around the world start to lift travel restrictions, it’s time for Canada to do the same.
The bottom line? “It’s time our governments allow Canadians to travel freely,” says the Canadian Travel & Tourism Roundtable.
“Blanket restrictions on movement and travel currently in place are simply too broad or unnecessary. Around the world, many countries including Australia, France, Germany, and Italy have started to re-open borders to safe countries, allowing individuals and businesses to return to a healthy new normal,” says the group on its newly launched website, time-to-travel.ca.
“We can achieve a safe re-opening by applying a more targeted approach. The Canadian Travel & Tourism Roundtable urges governments to put in place logical, streamlined measures to keep the public safe, while simultaneously allowing the tourism and travel sector to reopen.”
The website includes a copy of the open letter. The group is also generating organic content on LinkedIn, and active on Twitter. Here’s a sample post: “The Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable is calling on our governments to work together to put in place logical, streamlined measures to keep the public safe, while simultaneously allowing the tourism and travel sector to open. It’s #timetotravel. See our open letter at www.time-to-travel.ca.”
As Transat announces the restart of its operations July 23, and as Air Canada makes headway this month with its own gradually expanding network, the industry needs to begin moving forward, with all the necessary health and safety protocols in place, says the roundtable.
While for now the focus seems to be domestic travel this summer, many members of the group are heavily invested in outbound international travel as well.
Airline members of the group include Air Canada President & CEO Calin Rovinescu; Transat President & CEO Jean-Marc Eustache; WestJet President & CEO Ed Sims; Sunwing Travel Group President & CEO Stephen Hunter; and Porter Airlines Executive Chairman Robert Deluce.
Retail and tour operator members include Frank DeMarinis, TravelBrands President & CEO; Yuvraj Datta, President, Skylink Travel Group; Flemming Friisdahl, Owner & President, The Travel Agent Next Door; Gary Gaudry, President, Maritime Travel; Zeina Gedeon, CEO,Travel Professionals International; Joel Ostrov, President – Canada East Region, Direct Travel. Wendy Paradis, President, ACTA; Brian Robertson, President – Canada West Region, Direct Travel; Cecilia Rossos, President & Owner, CWT Victor Travel and Victours International; Rita Tsang, Founder and Chairman, Tour East Holidays; Ivy Yeung, CEO, Royal Scenic; and Jeff Willner, CEO, Travel Edge.
Here is the open letter, in its entirety:
“As a society, we have faced a threat like no other, COVID-19. And we are still dealing with it. Under the leadership of our governments, we agreed to implement tough decisions to protect our health and safety. We shut down our schools, our businesses, and our borders. We all made sacrifices and continue to adapt to this new reality.
“Now, it seems, we are getting through the worst of it.
“As we re-open, we are learning to live with the virus, not hide from it or from each other.
“And, just like we are re-opening the front doors of our homes and businesses, we need to re-open the doors of our provinces, territories – and our country.
“The Canadian travel, tourism and hospitality sector employs 1.8 million people and contributes $102 billion to our economy. It relies on the summer season to survive. As Canadians, we wait all year to travel during the summer. We need the summer.
“Like you, we believe personal safety is critical. However, many of the travel restrictions currently in place are simply too broad or unnecessary. Limitations on inter-provincial travel that restrict Canadians from freely exploring our country, should be removed. Canadians should be free to travel across Canada.
“We also need a more targeted approach to international travel. The mandatory 14-day quarantine and complete closure of our country to all visitors from abroad is no longer necessary and is out of step with other countries across the globe.
“Not all countries and regions are risky, and we shouldn’t treat them as such. For international visitors, it’s time to mirror the measured and safe approaches taken in other countries – like Germany, France, Italy and Australia, among many that have started to re-open borders to safe countries.
“Heightened hygiene and bio-safety measures are being adopted across travel and tourism in Canada to allow for safe travel, with confidence.
“It’s time to encourage Canadians and some visitors from abroad to explore our country this summer, to begin reuniting friends and families, to allow important business travel to occur, and to get our employees working safely again.
“It’s time our governments allow Canadians to travel freely.”