NEED TO KNOW. SET TO GO: Canadian tour operators want answers

Members of the Canadian Association of Tour Operators (CATO) are apparently (and understandably) not happy campers. With travel virtually at a standstill, travel warnings in effect, and the border between Canada and the US closed, they are simply sitting, waiting and losing revenue with little knowledge as to when they can resume business.

CATO chair, Brett Walker, has sent a request to Prime Minister Trudeau, asking for a decision as to “any measures and/or criteria required for opening of Canada’s borders and the restart of travel of all types, national and international.”

Walker writes that the cumulative sales of total CATO membership is the billions of dollars and tax inputs of tens of millions. Members employ tens of thousands of Canadians, and have a direct and indirect effect on many thousands more, including travel sellers, hotels, airlines and other sectors.

In his letter the CATO chair says, “In mid-March when government-imposed travel restrictions and advisories for all Canadians abroad to return home, it was our members that bore a significant amount of the costs for repatriation. Similarly, in the aftermath of Canada’s border closures and, in the midst of the pandemic, our members immediately took steps to protect the health of Canadians as well as future visitors. Our members coordinated and developed stringent health and safety guidelines that are verified, effective and transparent to all concerned. These guidelines, enshrined and promoted as TOURCARE now serve as the industry’s principal baseline.”

However, he notes, CATO members, along with the industry as a whole, “have no idea when they will be able to operate again. We remain at a standstill with little, if any, prospects at the current time for any recovery. Travel was the very first industry to be directly hit, and will be the very last to begin any form of recovery.”

The Government has advised against non-essential travel since mid-March, and under the emergency order, all travellers arriving in Canada to quarantine for 14 days. This has prevented any incoming tourism and is a disincentive for any Canadians thinking of travelling internationally.

Walker writes, “We request government decide and make clear any measures and/or criteria required for opening of Canada’s borders and the restart of travel of all types, national and international.”

Unlike other industries, travel can be quickly stopped but not easily started, he says.

It requires advance scheduling and commitments from both consumers as well as suppliers. “Any meaningful supply-side recovery will be preceded by weeks, if not months of seeding demand recovery.

“While our membership supports and understands the steps Government has taken to date to protect public health, it’s now time for the Government to employ more precise analytics to continue to protect the public health of Canadians, but to allow for a sustainable reopening of the travel and tour industry, so crucial to such an important part of the Canadian economy.”

That’s a fair request, but leaves open some questions.

Given the current situation, are such precise analytics possible? Are Canadians ready to travel (and we know many are) but will they be enough to sustain an industry that was riding higher than ever before, or are we going to see a paradigm shift in travellers’ choices, of not necessarily where they go, (though certainly that can come into play) but how they get there – and what happens when they arrive?

Interesting times.

Source: Travel Industry Today
NEED TO KNOW. SET TO GO: Canadian tour operators want answers

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