Measures Welcome, But Recovery May Take Years

TIAC is welcoming measures aimed at assisting the tourism industry in Monday’s federal budget while also warning that this country’s tourism industry may take years to fully recover from the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

“Canada’s visitor economy was the first-hit and hardest-hit industry from the COVID pandemic, and will be one of the last to recover. Sector specific support is critical. It is reassuring that our sector is being acknowledged and that its unique needs are being recognized as we continue to look for hope of recovery through the pandemic,” TIAC President Beth Potter said in a statement.

TIAC says 2021 is a critical year for the restart of Canada’s tourism economy and the association said number of its outlined recommendations were addressed by the federal government, leaving TIAC pleased to see support for the tourism industry acknowledged.

TIAC added it looks forward to continued collaboration with the government “on the intricacies and roll out of these programs” that were announced.

But Potter added in a Tuesday webinar that Destination Canada has said that even if this country’s borders are reopened to international tourism in October it “will take to 2026 to get where we were in 2019.”

Potter also said the tourism trade will need time to prepare for a major relaunch, adding it “can’t just flip a switch.” Many businesses have been shuttered because of the pandemic, and will need to rehire and retrain staff and also let potential guests know that they’re ready to receive them, she said.

The aviation industry has seen pilots and planes idled and will also need time to prepare, she continued.

“There’s a lot of work to be done to get ready,” Potter added.

Potter, who stated TIAC believes that health is at the “forefront all the time,” questioned the use of quarantines to safeguard Canadians from coronavirus, suggesting instead that the likes of “appropriate testing” and contact tracing can keep people safe while enabling borders to reopen.

International visitors are seen as crucial to this country’s tourist trade, with Potter reporting that they vacation for longer periods in this country and spend more money while doing so than their Canadian counterparts.

Potter declared the meetings and conventions industry as being an important factor to Canadian tourism, adding those who visit this country for business travel often end up extending their visits so they can enjoy some of the country, turning their “business travel into leisure travel.”

She also praised festivals as being hugely important to Canadian tourism.

“What would Calgary be like without the Calgary Stampede? What would Montreal be without Just for Laughs?” she asked