OTTAWA — Saying “times have changed since March of 2020”, the industry leaders that make up the Canadian Travel & Tourism Roundtable today urged the federal government to act now to save the Canadian travel and tourism industry, while highlighting the grave impact the 15-months and counting travel restrictions and advisories are having on Canadian businesses and the economy.
Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, introduced the press conference at Ottawa Airport this morning. Beatty was joined by industry leaders and members of the Roundtable including the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC), the Hotel Association of Canada (HAC), the National Airlines Council of Canada (NACC) and the Canadian Airports Council (CAC).
“We call this press conference today to underscore the dire situation facing the Canadian travel and tourism industry and to call on the federal government to take concrete steps to prevent permanent damage to the sector, by providing a clear and comprehensive plan for safely reopening our country,” said Beatty this morning.
“Canada remains a clear outlier among our G7 peers” with its lack of plan for restarting travel, he said. “Canada needs a plan of its own and it needs it now.”
“Canadians deserve clarity on what life after the pandemic will look like and how we will get there,” he added.
The Roundtable is calling on the government to take 3 immediate steps.
“First, we need a comprehensive national plan for the reopening of our economy. Second, Canadians have a right to know the criteria for reopening the Canada-U.S. border. We understand that Prime Minister Trudeau and President Biden discussed this issue on the margins of the G7. But we’ve seen no plan. We have no idea what the government’s intentions are, for when the current closure expires, a week from today. And third, we need to clear vaccination certification process to speed reopening and to support the recovery of the Canadian economy,” he said.
Beatty added that these measures are important not just for the survival of the travel and tourism industry, they’re also essential for the people that the sector serves: Canadian businesses and the Canadian economy.
“Canadians have done their part by getting vaccinated. Now’s the time to provide clear timely and safe guidance on reopening travel Canadians and Canadian businesses don’t want to be left behind,” said Beatty.
Beatty said: “We need lead time. It’s not like throwing a light switch. We need clarity.”
Beatty added that the federal government’s June 9 update about eased quarantine restrictions, including the elimination of the hotel quarantine effective some time in early July was a “small announcement” that, while welcome, lacked concrete details including how families with double-vaccinated adults but unvaccinated kids should approach travel plans.
“We need to have the strategy and we need it now,” said Beatty.
Also speaking today, Beth Potter, President and CEO of TIAC, repeated the simple but urgent message: “We need a plan, and we need it now.”
Potter noted that if the summer 2021 isn’t saved, on the heels of 15 months of travel lockdown, up to 75% of small and medium sized travel and tourism businsesses in Canada may fail.
“Recovery may be years away,” she said, adding that the federal and provincial governments must work to ensure that there’s not a patchwork of 13 different travel policies from the 13 provinces and territories, something that would be “unnecessary and cumbersome.”
The Roundtable’s message today came as the Montreal Canadiens get ready to face the Vegas Golden Knights tonight in the first game of the semi-finals in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The team is in Las Vegas for the game.
“If there can be a plan for NHL teams, why can’t there be a plan for the rest of Canadians,” said Potter.