On Tuesday, TIAC launched their campaign to re-open the US border with Canada by calling on the Federal Government to release their plan on when restrictions will be lifted. I was pleased to join Destination Toronto President and CEO, Scott Beck, General Manager of Ripley's Aquarium of Canada, Peter Doyle, and Executive Director of International Sales and Industry Relations for Hilton, Vito Curalli, in launching the campaign with TIAC President and CEO, Beth Potter.
The press event held outside the CN Tower focused on the importance of American tourists to the Ontario tourism industry and the catastrophic impact COVID-19 has had on our industry. But now, with COVID cases decreasing and vaccination rates increasing, we need to start moving toward a phased and safe reopening plan based on science.
Just last week, the federal government’s Expert Advisory Panel on COVID-19 testing and screening released a report stating that there needs to be changes made to the border policy to reflect the progress we’ve made in vaccinations and fighting the pandemic.
We all know the importance of American visitors to our industry, whether it's in our border towns, cities or to Northern Ontario businesses. But you can’t simply turn the tourism industry on and off like a light switch. We need lead up time to hire and train staff, buy inventory and plan how we can operate efficiently during this recovery period. Whilst the Federal Government has hinted at progress, they have not produced a detailed plan for reopening with key metrics to aid businesses. Yet at the same time, the Federal Government is planning to end key government support programs such as CEWS and CERS in the fall. You can’t withdraw support for our industry whilst giving it little or notice on when the border will reopen.
We all know that the tourism industry was the first to be hit, has been the hardest hit and is likely to be the last to recover. We’ve lost over 100,000 jobs and billions in economic activity. We know that operators and employees face the prospect of yet more uncertainty on customer demand and whether they will have a job this summer. That’s why we need a plan now.
You can add your voice to the call for the Federal Government to announce their plan by visiting www.openuscanborder.ca and send a letter to your local Member of Parliament. Please share this information amongst your own networks so that we can ensure the Federal Government hears our message loud and clear.