TIAC Seeks Canadian Quarantine Program Replacement and Vaccine Passports

Canada’s quarantine plan is outdated and needs to be replaced with contact tracing and rapid testing, says the head of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada.

Speaking on a Zoom call last Friday with Destination Canada, TIAC president and CEO Beth Potter said there are better ways to handle the pandemic than Canada’s current plan, which requires a 14-day quarantine for those coming into the country and an expensive hotel stay of up to three days for anyone arriving by air.

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“Countries around the world have amended their approach to quarantine using evidence-based data that supports reduced quarantine and an increased testing regime as a more effective way to protect populations,” Potter said. “We believe Canada needs to rethink quarantine rules and invest in rapid testing and contact tracing.”

Potter also said tourism businesses need the Trudeau government to provide a tentative date for borders to open.

“Tourism stakeholders have a shared commitment on keeping Canadians safe. We are asking the federal government for a plan or conditions for reopening interprovincial and international borders. It is important for our members to have time to plan, to prepare for reopening, to ramp up operations, to hire back staff, and to communicate with their clients.

“Uncertainty is not a plan that ensure a successful recovery.”

Potter said TIAC wants to see several other changes, including:

An extension of existing federal assistance rent and wage subsidy plans to help the hardesthit sectors;

A federal tax incentive to inspire Canadians to travel within Canada this year and next; and,

A “united travel approach” for the entire country, “as opposed to 13 individual policies.”

Potter also said Canada needs to provide sector-specific support for the country’s aviation industry. Talks are taking place, but she said Canadian airlines could lose their global competitiveness without help from Ottawa.

She also said TIAC wants Canada to adopt some form of proof of vaccination, or vaccination passport.

“It should become a common part of your travel documents moving forward,” she said. “And we are recommending that Canada adopt this.”

Another thing the Canadian government needs to do is give tourism and travel operators some kind of tentative re-opening date.

“We’re saying, “Listen, we’ve seen the vaccine rollouts are happening, they’re picking up steam. We’re seeing more jabs in arms. So let’s draw a line in the sand. Let’s pick a date. If all Canadians are going to have at least one vaccine by late June let’s pick a summer date. If all Canadians are going to have two vaccines by September, let’s pick a fall date. But let’s pick a date so businesses can plan to open.

“We’re not an industry that can turn on a dime. We have to ramp up. We have to re-hire a half a million people. We need to communicate with our clients and guests to say, ‘We’re open. Here’s what you can expect.”

“Let’s get a date, a line in the sand, and move towards that. And let’s communicate more positively with Canadians that it’s okay to travel.”

Destination Canada President and CEO Marsha Walden said the tourism sector in Canada has an unemployment rate that’s double the national average. Many of those unemployed workers are women, youth, new Canadians and Indigenous Canadians, she noted.

The most recent models show that Canada won’t get back to 2019 tourism levels until 2025, she said. But Canadians could speed that up significantly if they were to move two-thirds of their usual international spending budget and use it on trips within Canada.

“Leading indicators are cautiously encouraging,” Walden said. She noted that Canadians are searching for travel, that vaccines are rolling out and that travel sentiment in Canada is beginning to improve.

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