The major industry associations are reacting positively to the border easing announced yesterday by the Canadian government. However, their cheers are accompanied by a few reservations.
A reminder of the key changes announced:
- As of August 9, Canada plans to begin allowing fully vaccinated Americans to enter.
- As of September 7, 2x vaccinated from the rest of the world will also be allowed.
- The quarantine requirement disappears for 2x vaccines from all origins (although the quarantine plan remains required for all).
- The 14-day quarantine is maintained for non-vaccinated, but the requirement to start it at the hotel will disappear on August 9. The quarantine is also relaxed for children under 12 years of age.
- Molecular testing for COVID-19 is still required for everyone prior to departure. It also remains mandatory for non-vaccinated persons upon arrival. However, for those who have been vaccinated twice, the test will become random upon arrival.
- The pre-board temperature check for passengers will disappear on August 9.
- As of August 9, airlines will be required to verify that travellers entering Canada have submitted their information digitally through ArriveCAN prior to boarding the aircraft.
- The list of airports that can accommodate international commercial passenger flights increases from four to nine, with YHZ, YQB, YOW, YWG, and YEG joining YUL, YYZ, YVR, and YYC.
ACTA applauds, but will continue to lobby
"ACTA is very encouraged by today's news that fully vaccinated Americans will be allowed to enter Canada beginning August 9 and fully vaccinated international travelers in September. We are also very pleased to see that quarantine requirements for children under 12 years of age will be relaxed and that the PCR test on arrival will be moved to random on August 9," says Wendy Paradis, President of the ACTA.
Paradis is particularly encouraged that border restrictions are finally being eased for non-essential travel. "This is long overdue and a big step forward," she says.
"The easing of travel restrictions for Canadians will be particularly important for ACTA members. Currently, there is still a travel advisory to avoid all travel outside of Canada. ACTA has strongly urged that this recommendation be changed and we hope that this will happen quickly," concluded Wendy Paradis, assuring that ACTA will continue to lobby the government."
TICO pleased, but still, a long way to go
Richard Smart, TICO President and CEO shared:
“Like many others, I am pleased to see the first steps being taken by the federal government to open our borders to fully vaccinated US and, eventually, international travellers. That being said, there is still a long way to go. The Ontario travel industry has suffered greatly as a result of the pandemic and we are nowhere near being out of the woods. We are clawing our way back to stability, viability, and hopefully, growth. As always, TICO will continue to seek opportunities to support consumers and industry as the travel recovery gains momentum.”
ACITA happy, but reopening still a challenge
While the Association of Canadian Independent Travel Advisors (ACITA) is happy to see a number of restrictions being relaxed (namely the reopening of the US border) and the elimination of the hotel quarantine program for fully vaccinated travellers arriving by air, it believes there are still restrictive measures that make reopening a challenge.
"The Level 3, avoid non-essential travel ban needs to be lifted, as this is a large hurdle, one that affects how travellers, even fully vaccinated, can insure their trips. All of the upcoming changes are a step towards a full reopening, but without that ban being lifted or lowered to a Level 2, we are still going to be unable to see a return of significant growth in the industry that has been largely halted for almost a year and a half," ACITA shares.
We see this announcement as more of a win for Americans, and as September rolls around for many other nations. This largely helps incoming tourism, which received financial assistance from the budget, from which we were excluded, and on top of that they will be able to start operating their businesses and see cash flow right away. On the other hand, for our sector, cruise bans are still in place, travel advisories are still in effect, and we won’t see revenue for 5 to 11 months. We still haven’t received any sector specific funding, and the CRB is being eliminated, which has been our only lifeline. We continue to advocate on behalf of all Independent Travel Advisors, meeting with government officials weekly. The fact that the CRB was reduced to $300 per week, with a plan to be eliminated in September makes it clear that our work is far from over. We have not been able to make a change to that policy, and have been advocating for sector specific aid. We desperately need supports that are tailored to businesses that have been hardest hit. While we are extremely busy with bookings for 2022 and 2023 and beyond, we won’t start to see any of that revenue until January-June of 2022. We need supports in place to help bridge that gap. Many travel businesses are still at an extremely high risk of closure."
NACC welcomes but calls for further action
Canada's major airlines welcome the reopening of the Canadian border to fully vaccinated international travellers, but notes that further action will be required to allow the sector to recover.
"While we almost lost the summer travel season, today's announcement provides clarity and timelines that will allow consumers to plan ahead, and the travel and tourism sector to begin welcoming fully vaccinated foreign travelers again," says Mike McNaney, CEO of the National Airlines Council of Canada.
The organization (which represents Air Canada, Air Transat, Jazz, and WestJet) is pleased with the expansion of the number of Canadian airports that can handle international flights. It also applauds the elimination of the hotel quarantine program and the fact that unvaccinated minors will no longer be quarantined.
On the other hand, the NACC believes it is important to reduce the quarantine period for unvaccinated and partially vaccinated travellers.
"We will be ready for August and September. But further policy changes will ultimately be required to support the successful restart of the industry," concludes Mike McNaney.
IATA congratulates the Canadian Government
The International Air Transport Association commends the Canadian government for announcing the easing of border restrictions for fully vaccinated passengers. According to IATA, the decision is good news on several fronts.
"First, it restores freedom of travel, which will be especially welcome to those who have been unable to see their friends and family," says Willie Walsh, IATA's director general.
"In addition, airlines can now begin to restore international connectivity. This will help rebuild the Canadian economy, especially through the contribution of international trade and tourism."
According to the latest calculations from IATA Economics, the reopening of Canada's borders to international travelers will allow airlines to begin restoring more than 682 routes (domestic and international) that were lost due to the pandemic.
The reopening will also support and sustain 432,000 local jobs and contribute C$14 billion annually to Canada's GDP.
TIAC is heartened by the news
The Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) welcomes yesterday's announcement, noting that it has "consistently advocated for a science-based plan to reopen our borders and jumpstart our tourism economy."
“We are pleased that the federal government has communicated an evidence-based plan to reopen the borders and jumpstart travel. We are delighted to hear today the beginning of this incremental approach," said Beth Potter, CEO of TIAC.”
TIAC is calling on the federal government to show leadership on travel in Canada: "Canadians should be able to travel freely across our country, without having to comply with 13 different travel policies in each province and territory," the association said.
TIAC is also calling for the elimination of the PCR test requirement for fully vaccinated travellers - "as it is not supported by science," says Potter.
"We also need elected leaders to build public confidence in travel and understand that tourism businesses are prepared to provide experiences with all necessary health and hygiene protocols," Potter concludes.
Canada's airports encouraged
Canada's airports welcome the new border measures for fully vaccinated travellers.
"It's very encouraging to see that Canada is beginning to open up to international travellers," says Daniel-Robert Gooch, President of the Canadian Airports Council (CAC).
The CAC is also encouraged by the return of international access for five communities. However, CAC notes that more than 20 other Canadian communities are still waiting for access to be restored.
"Prior to the pandemic, more than 20 other Canadian communities had scheduled flights to the U.S., the Caribbean and Mexico and are anxious to confirm when international access will be restored. The timing is important as seasonal service to sun destinations usually begins in the fall when Canadians are already planning their winter vacations," observes Daniel-Robert Gooch.
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