You might say that March went out like a lion for the Association of Independent Travel Advisors (ACITA), wrapping it up with a long-awaited meeting with the Transport Minister Omar Alghabra.
During the meeting, ACITA clearly laid out the many ways that travel agencies, travel advisors, and specifically independent travel advisors are slipping through the cracks of government assistance, showing him that the Prime Minister’s cheery reassurance of “Don’t worry, we’ve got your back” does not apply to them. Most are being turned away from CEBA, RRRF & Provincial Funding programs.
ACITA was also invited to meet the following day with the Senior Policy Advisor for the Finance Minister, Chrystia Freeland, and it also received an invitation to appear as a witness at Meeting No. 32 of the Standing Committee on Finance.
The entire meeting is recorded on ParlVu with ACITA appearing in the second round at approx. 16:00 of the recording.
A compilation video of ACITA’s opening remarks and responses can be seen here:
During the FINA meeting, ACITA was asked by Committee Member, MP Tamara Jansen if they had heard of the newly formed Task Force on Women in the Economy, spearheaded by the Deputy Prime Minister/Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland. Eighty five percent of all travel advisors are female, and their industry is a prime example of small businesses that have seen zero recovery over the last year.
Brenda Slater, responding on behalf of ACITA, expressed her shock and surprise, especially in light of their meeting with Freeland’s Sr Policy Advisor just 2 days prior, and no Task Force had been mentioned, even though he was given the statistic of 85% of their sector being women.
The Task Force is comprised of women from large corporations in the financial, energy, education and not for profit sectors, while there appears to be no one to speak on behalf of small businesses. For more, go to https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/task-force-women-economy.html
After one full year of zero revenue resulting from government lockdowns, ACITA is calling for the government to show the public that they have a plan.
This plan should include benchmarks (eg. a certain percentage of the population being vaccinated, in conjunction with enhanced testing) that will restore consumer confidence and bring hope to many Canadians, many of whom are suffering mentally due to being cut off from family members who live in other countries. Instead, travel.gc.ca has chosen to spend money on social media campaigns, with the slogan “Get the facts. Stay in Canada”. Facebook posts contain the additional narrative: “Don’t book that trip just yet. Get the facts to stay safe.”
ACITA maintains that these ads are doing nothing more than putting fear of the future into the hearts and minds of Canadians, when instead, the Government should be showing the public that they have a plan for recovery.
Canada.ca’s statistics show that 1% of reported cases are due to travel outside Canada, with another .8% of reported cases having been exposed to a traveller. Source: https://health-infobase.canada.ca/covid-19/epidemiological-summary-covid-19-cases.html#fn3
With such a low rate of cases being travel-related, ACITA questions why the Government has put such strict measures in place, including:
- Cancellation of all flights to the Caribbean and Mexico until April 30
- Shut-down of all International Airports with the exception of Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto & Montreal
- Closure of Regional Airports in most Provinces
- Mandatory 3-day Hotel quarantine for travellers returning from International travel
The restrictive measures listed above have all but shut down the entire travel industry including the small businesses of Independent Travel Advisors. They are continuing to operate their businesses, repatriating Canadians stranded in other countries, facilitating trip cancellations, processing Future Travel Credits for airlines and travel suppliers and assisting their clients with Insurance claims – all without receiving any revenue.
ACITA will continue to advocate for their members (there are 12,000 Independent Travel Advisors across Canada) until the government steps up to ensure that they will not be a forgotten casualty. Since June 2020, they have had over 200 meetings with Members of Parliament, Policy Advisors, Ministers and Members of the Senate.
For more, go to https://acita.ca/ .