The Canadian Travel & Tourism Roundtable (The Roundtable) urges the federal government to immediately publish a comprehensive national plan to reopen our economy, ensure free movement of Canadians across the country, reopen the US-Canada border and a clear vaccination certification program to allow international travelers entry. These are critical actions that will allow the travel and tourism sectors and the Canadian economy to recover.
Despite the advice of the federally appointed Panel of Experts on COVID-19 Testing and Screening (the Panel of Experts), the federal government has yet to publish a comprehensive reopening plan for international and domestic travel, particularly with regards to admitting fully vaccinated foreign nationals to Canada.
Last weekend, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended the G7 Summit, where the Communiqué of Heads of State or Government “emphasized the importance of the safe resumption of international travel by land, air and sea, and multilateral efforts to achieve this” the global economy recognizes and emphasizes 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 action is required”.
Canada remains a clear outlier among its G7 counterparts as it has not yet announced a comprehensive reopening plan. Although international discussions are important, Canada needs its own plan, and now, says the Round Table.
The border between Canada and the USA has been closed to non-essential travel since March 2020. With more people being vaccinated in both countries and cases falling across the continent, it is time the federal government came up with evidence. Plan to reopen the border.
The sector is also calling on the federal government to provide clear travel policies for Canadians and foreign nationals traveling to Canada. Canadians deserve a unified national policy approach to travel that clarifies the country’s policies regarding vaccination certificates, our international border, unvaccinated minors, and other critical details that require national guidance. In the absence of a nationwide plan, we see a patchwork of policies in the provinces that are difficult to reconcile.
Last week, the federal government announced its intention to lift mandatory hotel quarantine for fully vaccinated Canadians and reduce quarantine following the results of an arrival test. While this was a step in the right direction, further policy changes are needed to support the recovery of the travel and tourism sectors.
Canadians do their part to vaccinate; Now is the time for the federal government to come up with clear, timely, and safe guidelines for reopening Canada to travel. Recent announcements have shown some progress, but much more clarity is needed.
Canada’s politics should be rooted in science, warranting a fresh approach to border measures, ongoing testing requirements, and quarantine restrictions for partially vaccinated Canadians and fully vaccinated foreigners. There is no scientifically justified reason to postpone the implementation of the government’s own recommendations of the panel of experts.
“It is imperative that we take logical, clear measures to facilitate travel within Canada and internationally. Taking a phased approach to political announcements about travel will only raise more questions and confusion, ”said Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
“The Canadian travel and tourism industry – and the border between Canada and the US – has effectively closed since March 2020. A holistic Canadian plan is needed to give reassurance to businesses and Canadians. We see provinces filling the existing gaps. was created by the lack of a state reopening plan and that will create confusion among travelers, “said Beth Potter, President and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada.
“Canada cannot afford to be left behind in reopening other countries around the world,” said Susie Grynol, President and CEO of the Hotel Association of Canada. “Without a clear plan, our vibrant tourism industry is at risk and people’s livelihoods are at risk. Fully vaccinated travelers should be given the same opportunities regardless of their nationality.”
“There is significant demand for travel across Canada. We urgently need the federal government to come up with a plan so that Canadians and those who want to travel safely to Canada are not left behind. Other countries have done this. Our industry depends on it. “Canadians expect it,” said Daniel-Robert Gooch, president of the Canadian Airports Council.
“Countries that successfully implement science and data-driven testing and quarantine policies will not only protect public health, they will fuel 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 who rely on the government to publish a plan,” he continued.