Across the globe, international governments are lifting restrictions on unvaccinated travellers and removing final obstacles to travel.
Yet in Canada, despite recent announcements on temporary changes to border procedures at our airports, there is no plan in place to allow unvaccinated travellers to visit Canada.
In addition, the ArriveCAN application, originally implemented as part of an emergency order under the Quarantine Act for public health, continues to prove a barrier to travel.
In a recent House of Commons Committee meeting, MPs heard of the damaging impact that COVID-19 has had on our border towns and tourism industry from TIAC President and CEO Beth Potter, but also, Mark Weber, national president of the Customs and Immigration Union, who said the app has CBSA officers acting as "IT consultants" for travellers and is “an incredible drain on resources. It's a drain on time.”
But while European and other international governments are dropping mandates, remaining restrictions in Canada are severely restricting the industry's ability to recover. Despite this month’s increase in U.S. residents taking trips into Canada through land ports, the number of trips remains at half (50.8%) of the U.S. residents who arrived by automobile during the same month in 2019. This is simply untenable for the resource-based tourism industry in Northern Ontario, our border towns and is having a major impact on the number of tourists throughout Ontario.
At the same time when inflation and gas prices are soaring, businesses across Ontario are facing a perfect storm of conditions that could see some businesses decide to close for the season. A recent report by Nature and Outdoor Tourism Ontario (NOTO) demonstrated that already this season, over $100 million has been lost in cancellations as American tourists cancel their plans to visit Ontario.
As a member of the Northern Ontario Border Working Group, TIAO joined NOTO, Destination Northern Ontario and frontline operators joined for a press conference to call on the government to end the following remaining border requirements: 1. Random testing at land border crossings. 2. Vaccination of international tourists. 3. Use of ArriveCAN.
The economic legacies of the pandemic, most notably debt, will continue to act as a millstone around the recovery of the tourism industry and TIAO will continue to work with TIAC to push for the writing off of debt incurred during the pandemic. But, the continued inability of our industry to compete on a level playing field with our international competitors continues to make it impossible for our industry to recover. It’s time for Canada to join other leading countries the G7 in adapting our response to the pandemic and remove vaccine mandates, random testing and the need to use ArriveCAN.
You can watch the entire press conference, including remarks from NOTO’s Executive Director Laurie Marcil, David MacLachlan, Executive Director of Destination Northern Ontario, frontline operators and myself by clicking here or watch CTV’s coverage here.
President & CEO