The Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA) kicked off its 2022 Travel Industry Summit series in Toronto on Wednesday (Sept 14) by announcing its number one advocacy priority: keeping Canada’s border open.
Welcoming around 300 travel pros from a stage at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, ACTA President Wendy Paradis, in her opening remarks, went straight to the point: winter is coming, and if a new COVID-19 variant of concern arises, the Canadian government has infrastructure in place to shut down the border.
As it has done before.
“I will be honest, we are concerned about the upcoming flu season. We are concerned with some of the modelling. And we are concerned about potential federal actions,” Paradis told the audience.
Guided by the belief that travel shouldn’t be treated any differently than other industries, ACTA is “doing everything possible, and is very assertive” in ensuring the border remains open, Paradis said.
“[The travel industry] is an economic driver, we should not be shut down on a whim,” she said, referencing scientific evidence that has proven that travel restrictions, while active in Canada, had little impact on halting the spread of COVID-19.
“New border measures equals new financial support"
If worse comes to worst, and if travel restrictions – such as a non-essential travel advisory or pre-departure testing – are reinstated, ACTA will prioritize the need for urgent financial aid for travel agencies and independent travel advisors, and advocate for delays in loan repayments.
“New border measures equals new financial support,” Paradis said, outlining other initiatives ACTA has in store, such as ramping up pro-travel messaging on social media and efforts to tackle the industry’s labour shortage.
The updates set the stage for the return of ACTA’s annual summit series, which are happening in select Canadian cities this month.
The in-person event – which will move to Richmond, B.C., on Sept. 20 and then Laval, Q.C., on Sept. 28 – brings together travel advisors and industry leaders for a day of panel discussions, breakout sessions and presentations that revolve around the latest travel industry research, insights, trends and best practices.
ACTA, alongside other organizations, such as the Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable, has spent the COVID-19 pandemic lobbying government officials for a safe and responsible reopening of the travel industry, while fighting for fairness on behalf of travel agents and agencies.
The summits unfold as the Canadian travel sector, besieged by debt, is only now starting to see a recovery after more than two years of pandemic-related challenges.
Above all, the events are allowing industry pros to reconnect with each other in a positive and energizing atmosphere.
As summit emcee Lorraine Simpson pointed out in her opening remarks this morning, if there’s one thing the pandemic has taught the sector, it’s that “helping each other grow and being able to pivot and do things differently” is key.
Wednesday morning saw a range of inspiring and educational programming.
G Adventures’ Founder and keynote speaker Bruce Poon Tip took to the stage to discuss ways that agents can use travel as a force for change.
Poon Tip, notably, executive produced a new eye-opening documentary called The Last Tourist, which reassess how travel can return in a more responsible way (the must-see film is now available for streaming on Crave in Canada).
Then there was a panel discussion called “How I survived the pandemic, revamped my business and now I’m thriving” led by moderator Louise Gardiner, CTM, ACTA board treasurer and VP of The Agency Solution by The Travel Agent Next Door.
For this segment, travel advisor colleagues shared how they survived the worst of the pandemic and revamped their business to thrive in today’s new normal.
A trade show with more than 50 exhibitors is also giving attendees a chance to get the latest info from top destinations, airlines, tour operators, cruise lines and ground transportation exhibitors.
Later this afternoon, president of Tripcentral.ca Richard Vanderlubbe will moderate a talk on rebuilding the Canadian travel industry, together, and then Gary C. Sadler, executive vice-president of sales and industry relations at Sandals and Beaches Resorts, will deliver a keynote presentation entitled “The future of travel is bright!”
The day will end with ACTA’s Leadership Awards and a cocktail reception.
And, of course, all eligible attendees have a chance to win some great prizes. Cross those fingers!
Stay tuned as PAX brings you more coverage from ACTA’s travel industry summit in Toronto. Visit ACTA's website for more.