In a meeting of its members late last week, the Canadian Association of Tour Operators (CATO) made it clear that the need for clear and concise criteria and an extension of the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) were critical to the industry’s restart and recovery.
In a statement, CATO indicated that the #1 Need for clear and concise criteria government must make known any criteria for easing of travel restrictions and reopening of borders.
The criteria, while serving public health, would immensely help industry to forecast and plan for recovery.
As for the extension of the CEWS, the tour operator association said that with our industry at a complete standstill, it is critical that the CEWS (Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy) program be extended beyond its current expiration, until at least March 31, 2021.
And it added that even after any restart, it will take months to realize any revenue from advance payments and could be years before the industry achieves any sustainable level.
The association also said that it has prepared a position statement which focuses on these two issues and will be the basis for a letter-writing campaign to various Ministers and Members of Parliament.
In other news from CATO, the association’s executive director, Pierre LePage and its chair, Brett Walker will be appearing before an Ontario Legislative Assembly (OLA) Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Activity tomorrow (Aug. 18) to once again highlight the need for a change to the funding of the Ontario Travel Compensation Fund.
In its position, CATO emphasizes the critical need to extend Wage Subsidy Program to help Canadian tour operators survive and preserve thousands of jobs.
It’s position statement is as follows:
Why do Tour Operators need more help than most?
1. Tour Operators were the very first to be impacted by Covid 19, and will be the very last to restart their businesses to any acceptable degree.
2. Travel restrictions imposed on Canadians and international travellers into Canada have virtually. halted all travel. With little or no easing in sight, there is no horizon for any real recovery.
3. Emergency out-of-country health insurance is effectively unavailable for Covid 19 coverage.
4. With or without effective vaccines, any increase in travel will be exceedingly slow, requiring operators to expend double the resources to produce travel experiences in a safety-conscious environment.
5. Revenues produced by these limited travel experiences will be insufficient to cover the added costs incurred for a very long time.
6. Tour Operators face unique business challenges with long lead times with no revenue from booking date to travel date.
7. Cash flow restrictions from trust accounting requirements and the need to hold any deposits, amplified by the need to offer extremely flexible cancellation and change policies, offering operators limited surety of the reliability of any travel bookings.
8. Fixed costs have continued unabated since mid-March and will continue well past the current anticipated extinction of the CEWS Wage Subsidy program.
9. Without government support, the extended wait for any recovery will be the ultimate blow to many operators and thousands of jobs.
What do Tour Operators Need?
Tour Operators require CEWS, the Emergency Wage Subsidy Program, to be extended at least until March 31st of 2021, in order to survive and eventually return to being major contributors to the Canadian economy. Without it, many thousands of jobs will be lost.