The Canadian Travel & Tourism Roundtable (The Roundtable) – a cross-Canadian coalition of leaders in tourism and travel working to safely restart the sector – is calling on Ottawa to immediately release a comprehensive, national plan to reopen the economy, ensure the free movement of Canadians across the country, reopen the U.S.-Canada border, and put in place a clear vaccination certification program to allow entry to international travellers.
“These are critical measures that will enable the recovery of the travel and tourism sector and the Canadian economy,” the Roundtable said in a release on Monday (June 14).
Despite receiving advice from the federally appointed COVID-19 Testing and Screening Expert Advisory Panel, the federal government has yet to publish a comprehensive reopening plan for international and domestic travel, particularly around the admission of fully vaccinated foreign nationals into Canada.
The data and science-driven study, which was compiled by epidemiology and virology experts, outlines several recommendations that could lead to a safe re-start of Canada's aviation, travel and tourism sectors.
The report recommends eliminating quarantine for fully vaccinated travellers, implementing changes to testing and screening, and eliminating the hotel quarantine policy. (Click here to view their entire report).
This past weekend, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended the G7 Summit where the leaders' communique recognized "the importance to the global economy of safely restarting international travel, by land, air and sea, and multilateral efforts to achieve this," and stressed the need for "a set of common standards for travel including interoperability and mutual recognition of digital applications, testing requirements, recognition of vaccination status including exemptions and comparable criteria for when responsive measures may be required."
Canada remains a clear outlier among its G7 peers, having yet to announce a comprehensive reopening plan, the Roundtable says.
“Though international discussions are important, Canada needs a plan of its own, and needs it now,” the Roundtable said. “As more and more people continue to get vaccinated in both countries and cases decline across the continent, it is time for the federal government to put in place an evidence-based plan to reopen the border.”
Clear policies needed
The sector is also calling on the federal government to announce clear travel policies for Canadians and foreign nationals travelling to Canada.
“Canadians deserve a single national policy approach to travel that clarifies the country's policy on vaccination certification, our international border, unvaccinated minors, and other critical details that require national leadership. In the absence of a nation-wide plan, we are seeing a patchwork of policies roll out provincially that are difficult to reconcile,” the Roundtable said.
Last week, Ottawa announced its intention to remove the mandatory hotel quarantine requirement for fully vaccinated Canadians and reduce quarantine upon the results of an arrivals test.
Though this was a step in the right direction, more policy changes are needed to support the travel and tourism sector recovery.
"Canada's policies should be rooted in science, which justifies a renewed approach to border measures, ongoing testing requirements, and quarantine restrictions for partially vaccinated Canadians and fully vaccinated foreign nationals. There is no science-based reason to further delay the implementation of the government's own Expert Panel recommendations," the Panel said.
"Vibrant tourism industry is at risk"
"It is imperative that we have logical, clear measures in place to facilitate travel within Canada and internationally. A piecemeal approach to policy announcements on travel will only raise more questions and create confusion," said Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
"The Canadian travel and tourism industry – and the Canada-U.S. border – has been effectively closed since March 2020. A holistic Canada-wide plan is needed to provide certainty to businesses and Canadians. We are seeing provinces fill in the gaps that have been created by the absence of a federal reopening plan and this will create confusion for travellers," stated Beth Potter, President & CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada.
"Canada cannot afford to be left behind as other countries around the world begin to reopen," said Susie Grynol, President and CEO of the Hotel Association of Canada. "Without a clear plan in place, our vibrant tourism industry is at risk and people's livelihoods are in jeopardy. Fully vaccinated travellers should be afforded the same opportunities, regardless of their nationalities."
"There is significant demand across Canada to travel. We urgently need the federal government to lay out a plan so that Canadians, and those seeking to safely travel to Canada, are not left behind. Other countries have done this. Our sector depends on this. Canadians are expecting this," stated Daniel-Robert Gooch, President of the Canadian Airports Council.
"Countries that successfully implement a science and data–based testing and quarantine policy will not only protect public health, they will drive their overall domestic recovery and take jobs and investment from countries that do not," said Mike McNaney, President and CEO of the National Airlines Council of Canada, which represents Canada's largest airlines (Air Canada, Air Transat, Jazz Aviation, and WestJet). "We have tens of thousands of employees that are relying on government to release a plan."
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