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We asked Rocky Mountaineer about the lifting of Canada’s vaccination mandate

TORONTO — It’s a brave new world – at least it is in Canada where travellers are no longer required to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination when boarding a plane or train on Canadian soil.

The eased measures, which came into effect on June 20, follows nearly a year-long mandate that required all air travellers, interprovincial train passengers and cruise ship passengers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Though vaccination is still required for cruise travel on ships in Canadian waters and Canadian ports, the rule has lifted for domestic travellers on planes and trains, as well as for outbound international travel.

This has largely been met with relief and applause across the travel industry since no vaccine mandate means more freedom of movement and more travel bookings. While airlines and advocacy groups have, for the most part, been the most vocal supporters of Canada’s eased travel measures, rail companies would also certainly benefit. These include Rocky Mountaineer, which in 2019, prior to the pandemic, carried approximately 95,000 guests through Western Canada.

Travelweek checked in with Nicole Ford, Rocky Mountaineer’s Vice President, Communications, Sustainability & Stakeholder Relations, for the company’s take on the elimination of the vaccination mandate and how it may possibly impact bookings.

We asked Rocky Mountaineer about the lifting of Canada’s vaccination mandate

What was your initial reaction when you heard that the federal government is suspending mandatory vaccination for rail travel in Canada?

“Since the onset of the pandemic, we have followed the government guidelines and mandates in the regions where we operate, and this will continue moving forward. The Canadian government’s mask requirement remains in place, so those travelling onboard the train are required to wear masks when they are not eating or drinking. As tourism continues to rebuild, we hope measured changes like this will support the industry’s recovery.”

Do you think this will have an immediate impact on bookings?

“We have not yet seen this to have a notable impact on our sales. However, we are very optimistic for the season ahead. We know people are ready to travel and enjoy new experiences, and we are seeing this reflected in our bookings for this season.”

How is Rocky Mountaineer still ensuring the health and safety of crew and passengers, especially now that vaccination is no longer necessary?

“Rocky Mountaineer’s top priority has long been the health and safety of all who travel with us, so we will continue with our extensive disinfecting and screening protocols. Additionally, our rail cars are equipped with high-end filtration systems that remove 99.9% of airborne viruses and bacteria, while ensuring a steady intake and circulation of fresh air. We want guests to be confident and comfortable during their journey, so safety will remain at the forefront of what we do.”

With the way things are going now, what’s your forecast for summer 2022?

“We anticipate a strong recovery year as we are approaching 85% of our pre-pandemic levels in terms of guests booked to travel. We are also seeing guests booking closer to their travel dates than in previous years, so we are optimistic this will grow. Guests can continue to expect a high-level of service and delicious meals that Rocky Mountaineer is known for. Our team very much looks forward to welcoming more Canadians onboard to experience some of the best scenery Western Canada has to offer.”

This year, Rocky Mountaineer is highlighting its newest route, Rockies to the Red Rocks, a two-day train journey that connects Denver, Colorado with Moab, Utah. Guests will travel alongside rivers, past mountain ranges and through the ancient rock canyons of the Southwest United States. They’ll also stay one night in historic Glenwood Springs. This year marks the first full season of the new route, following a preview season in 2021.

Rockies to the Red Rocks complements the company’s three longstanding routes in Western Canada: First Passage to the West (Vancouver-Banff), Journey Through the Clouds (Vancouver-Jasper) and Rainforest to Gold Rush (Vancouver-Whistler-Quesnel-Jasper).


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