The Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) is eager to have a “dialogue” with the federal government about the possible reopening of this country’s border to international travellers, a development that would be a huge boost to a tourism industry that’s been struggling in an unprecedented manner because of the coronavirus pandemic.
TIAC president and CEO, Charlotte Bell told a Thursday Baxter Media TravelWebcast session that the date of the border being reopened is the “$64,000 question” for her industry, which has seen inbound tourism placed “on pause.”
The border was closed to tourists this spring as Ottawa tried to stem the spread of coronavirus.
“We would like to have that dialogue,” Bell said of possible talks with federal officials.
TIAC has recognized that Ottawa has to protect Canadians’ health but suggests there could be a “balance” between safeguarding the well-being of people and also ensuring that the tourism industry — a major contributor to the country’s economy — weathers a pandemic that’s sent global tourism into a tailspin.
Bell warned that keeping the border closed indefinitely could have a “devastating impact” on this country’s tourist trade.
The TIAC president suggested that “safe corridors” for tourists wanting to travel in this country should be considered. Such corridors have been appearing in other parts of the world.
Bell said the domestic market is “at the very early stages of recovery,” with that recovery hampered by the “vastly different” stances taken by provinces regarding visits by people from other parts of the country. “Things are going to be evolving differently.”
Some parts of the country have a reasonable shot at being “able to salvage some part” of the normally busy summer tourism season, she said, adding the travel trade has worked hard to be able to provide safe vacation experiences.
TIAC has acknowledged that many people might be uneasy about their communities hosting visitors these days but Bell said others are upbeat about their return, citing Albertans being warmly welcomed in Revelstoke, B.C., recently.
TIAC’s boss said she’s “hoping for the best” for next year’s tourist trade, stating there’s a “lot of uncertainty right now.”
She said her industry has pulled together during the pandemic, adding it’s “wonderful to see the collaboration.”
The TravelWebcast session with Bell and a panel — that included Tamara Mallin of Rocky Mountaineer, Darcie Guarderas of Anderson Vacations and Susan Bowman of Transat Distribution Canada (TDC) — with a stake in domestic tourism was the third in Baxter Media’s inaugural Travel Webcast Week that took place from June 23 to June 25.
Check out the session here: