Be perfectly clear that the fact that the federal government reiterated its advice to Canadians to avoid all non-essential travel in today’s (June 21) announcement that it was cautiously easing some of the border restrictions in place, make it essential that it also continue its financial support to travel and tourism businesses that have been hammered by the global pandemic.
That’s the message from ACTA, with the association noting that it was disappointed by the announcement and made it clear that it will aggressively lobby the government to extend federal business support programs and ease travel advisories and restrictions.
ACTA said that while the June 21 announcement was welcome, it “will not kick-start travel agency bookings through the summer,” and is continuing to call for a clear, science-based plan that lays a path forward for easing travel advisories and restrictions based on vaccination and case-count metrics.
ACTA president, Wendy Paradis said: “While today’s news is a welcome step forward for Canada’s travel industry, 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.”
Federal support programs have been vital to travel agencies, travel agents and independent travel agents, with the majority experiencing over 95% revenue losses compared to 2019. Over 800 store-front travel agencies have closed since the start of the pandemic, and travel agent businesses have laid off or furloughed 63% of staff, despite federal support programs.
The planned reductions of federal support programs mean that most travel agent businesses will have continued monthly losses, even with potential increases in travel demand. Meanwhile, agencies continue to manage government-mandated ticket refunds and future travel credits for no revenue.
Said Paradis: “Travel agencies have been operating at a loss since the beginning of the pandemic. Without continued full federal support for at least the summer, many will close. Businesses can only survive monthly losses for so long.”
The association noted that despite falling COVID case-counts and one of the world’s most successful vaccination programs, the federal government has not published a science-based plan on easing travel advisories and restrictions.
ACTA’s president pointed out that: “Travel agent businesses need clear guidance from the federal government on when travel advisories and restrictions will ease. 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 ACTA’s president concluded: “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.”