Breaking news: travel is (finally!) poised for a rebound.
The government’s plan to allow fully vaccinated travellers to self-isolate at home after returning from abroad, and skip a 14-day quarantine after testing negative for COVID-19, represents the first phase of easing travel restrictions in Canada.
The federal update, announced yesterday, is the first piece of good news the travel industry – one of the hardest-hit sectors during the COVID-19 pandemic – has received in nearly 15 months.
The plan is to exempt fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents from having to partake in Ottawa’s ill-conceived hotel quarantine program, which has been mandatory for international air arrivals since February.
Officials say the change in border measures could begin as soon as the first week of July.
Fully-vaxxed travellers must still undergo a pre-departure PCR test and test on arrival. But they will be allowed to quarantine at home, instead, until they their negative Day 1 result is processed.
Is the travel industry on the road to recovery? You bet it is.
Travel advisors know what this news means to their business and travelling clients.
Canada’s hotel stopover, as well as its mandatory 14-day quarantine requirement, have been one of the biggest barriers to selling travel amid the pandemic.
The past 15 months has been a time of uncertainty and doubt as many travel advisors, out of necessity, have put their businesses temporarily on hold. Some have left the industry altogether.
While federal aid has certainly helped the situation, many agencies have had no choice but to start over, from scratch, with new business and marketing plans to reflect the demands of today’s new world.
Airlines, hotels, tour operators and cruise lines have had to do the same, investing millions in health and safety protocols, training and technology to better serve their customers, safely.
The travel industry isn’t a light switch. It’s not something you can just turn on when given a green light. The industry’s recovery will be slow and gradual. It will take time.
Yesterday’s update also raises the question of how the government will check for proof of vaccination at the border.
A vaccine passport system is coming, officials say, and this is expected to change the way we, as Canadians, explore the world.
Most importantly, the Government of Canada still urgently needs to release a concrete plan for reopening its aviation, travel and tourism sectors.
But change is on the horizon and the easing of restrictions is the first step.
And if Canada’s vaccination rates continue to climb at the rate they’re going, positive changes may come sooner than we think.
Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam uses the 20-75 parameter (20% fully vaccinated, 75% partially vaccinated) as a benchmark for advancing Canada’s reopening plan.
Achieving these numbers will lead to the easing of even more border rules, such as allowing vaccinated travellers to cross the Canada-U.S. land border, freely and without quarantine.
The recommendations released by the COVID-19 Testing and Screening Expert Advisory Panel are an excellent starting point.
If the government commits to more changes to testing and quarantine rules in the coming weeks, we might just be able to save the summer season.
We’re getting close. To date, nearly 70 per cent of Canadians have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. As of Wednesday, 8.7% of the population is fully vaccinated.
And these statistics won’t be slowing down anytime soon: Canada, by the end of July, is set to receive 55 million vaccine doses in total.
If we can achieve our vaccination rates, together, we’ll be able to move forward as a society and as an industry that once thrived.
Some travel advisors, following yesterday’s announcement, have already started receiving calls from clients looking to book a future trip, PAX has learned.
And the good news keeps on coming: just today, Transat, after months of grounded flights, announced that it will gradually return to service starting July 30.
If that’s not a sign of progress, then I don’t know what it. The pent-up demand for travel is real, and travel advisors, after months of planning, are ready to engage.
A two-dose summer is within our reach (if people get their shots). We can do this.
Hope and optimism is in the air! Our industry finally has something to look forward to.
We have a long way to go, but we’re flying in the right direction.
Uguette Chiasson is president and CEO of Pax Global Media Inc.
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