CATO Makes Its Case

In a July 7 letter to Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, the chair of the Canadian Association of Tour Operators (CATO), Brett Walker asks the federal government to “decide and make clear any measures and/or criteria required for opening of Canada’s borders and the restart of travel of all types, national and international.”

Walker writes:

“Our members, the likes of WestJet Vacations, Sunwing Vacations, Goway Travel, G Adventures, The Travel Corporation, Globus, Cosmos, Collette, and many others, are a vital part of the travel landscape in Canada. The cumulative sales total of our membership is in the billions of dollars and tax inputs of tens of millions. Our members employ tens of thousands of Canadians as well as have an indirect effect on many thousands more employed as travel sellers, by hotels and airlines, to name a few.”

He reminds the Prime Minister that:

“In mid-March when government imposed travel restrictions and advisories necessitated Canadians abroad to return home, it was our members that bore a significant amount of the costs for repatriation. Similarly, in the aftermath of Canada’s border closures and, in the midst of the pandemic, our members immediately took steps to protect the health of Canadians as well as future visitors. Our members coordinated and developed stringent health and safety guidelines that are verified, effective and transparent to all concerned. These guidelines, enshrined and promoted as TOURCARE now serve as the industry’s principal baseline.”

And points out:

“Yet our members, as well as the travel industry as a whole, have no idea when they will be able to operate again. We remain at a standstill with little, if any, prospects at the current time for recovery. Travel was the very first industry to be directly hit, and will be the very last to begin any form of recovery.”

Walker notes that:

“The Government has advised against non-essential travel since mid-March, which accordingly, has stopped Canadians from any sort of touristic travel.

The Government’s emergency order under the Quarantine Act requires all travellers arriving in Canada to quarantine for 14 days. This has prevented any incoming touristic travel and is a further disincentive for any Canadians thinking of travelling internationally.”

And he continues:

“We request the Government decide and make clear any measures and/or criteria required for opening of Canada’s borders and the restart of travel of all types, national and international.

The travel industry is unlike any other industry. It can be quickly stopped but not easily started. It requires advance scheduling and commitments from both consumers as well as suppliers. Any meaningful supply-side recovery will be preceded by weeks, if not months of seeding demand recovery.”

Walker concludes:

“While our membership supports the steps the Government has taken to date to protect public health, it’s now time for the Government to employ more precise analytics to continue to protect the public health of Canadians, but also allow for a sustained reopening of the travel and tour industry; a crucial part of the Canadian economy.”