On Monday, Canadians got some good news after the Government of Canada announced that residents who are fully vaccinated would now be able to travel into Canada without quarantining upon their arrival.
At the same time, the Government reaffirmed its position that non-essential travel should be avoided. In a statement following the news, the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA) said that, because of the decision, the federal government should now be continuing to support businesses impacted by the decision, including travel agencies.
ACTA, in a statement, said that allowing Canadians to return to the country is a “welcome” decision but it “will not kick-start travel agency bookings through the summer.”
“While today’s news is a welcome step forward for Canada’s travel industry,” said Wendy Paradis, President, ACTA, “unfortunately, continued non-essential travel advisories and restrictions offer little hope of recovery this summer. Diminishing federal support programs starting this July, including CEWS, CERS, and CRB, means Canada’s 24,000 travel agents will be at risk of unemployment and bankruptcies.”
A majority of Canadian travel agency businesses have lost 95% of revenue compared to 2019 because of the pandemic. More than 800 store-front locations have already closed and travel agencies have laid off or furloughed more than 60% of their staff, even with the support programs in place.
“Travel agencies have been operating at a loss since the beginning of the pandemic,” says Paradis. “Without continued full federal support for at least the summer, many will close. Businesses can only survive monthly losses for so long.”
Aside from calling for more support for its members, ACTA also wants the federal government to adopt a “science-based” approach to reopening the country and loosening travel restrictions both for residents and for tourists.
“Travel agent businesses need clear guidance from the federal government on when travel advisories and restrictions will ease,” says Paradis. “To support recovery, the government must issue metric-based guidance telling businesses when travel advisories and restrictions will be reduced and removed. This guidance would specify what measures would be reduced or removed based on community case and vaccination rates.”
“And, until travel advisories are lifted and borders are fully opened, travel agencies, travel agents, and the entire Canadian travel industry require continued and enhanced financial support,” Paradis added.