Just how much attention is the travel industry receiving from those running in the current federal election?
Well, according to four Ontario travel agents, not a great deal — and that’s unfortunate for the industry and the Canadian economy as well.
The four agents say they’re disappointed by what they believe is a scant amount of attention a struggling travel industry is receiving during a time politicians are normally particularly inclined to reach out to the public about their concerns.
“There are a few candidates that are being engaged by very vocal local agents and that’s fantastic but on a federal level, very little has been seen from the top,” says Paul Nielsen of Paragon Travel in Toronto. “I believe the unique nature of the agent’s role leaves us in a no-person’s land in between federal and provincial. As usual, we’ll just have to ride the waves and adjust our course in small ways to our industry’s benefit.
“I’d like to see a strong position on vaccine status validation that is coordinated internationally so we can all travel conveniently and confidently,” Nielsen continues. “At this moment, the lack of action and half measures between federal and provincial (governments) are like pulling a Bandaid off slowly, ignoring the pain on the part of the industry and the guests.
“Our industry is like the gig industry. Multiple business model implementations (salaried/independent/etc.) that lack the cohesion to address legislative needs. All we can do is keep the pressure on.”
Ethel Hansen Davey of Uniglobe Enterprise Travel in Toronto agrees that her industry deserves a higher profile in the election.
“I really haven’t heard any of them address the travel industry as a whole,” she says. “They focus more on cross-border travel and tests required to travel. This addresses only a minuscule part of our industry. I have listened to many of the press conferences held by the three major party leaders and I have yet to hear a concrete plan to bolster the travel industry as a whole. Having said that, I have yet to hear a journalist ask a question on our behalf to address the issue, so there’s that. Is the media as a whole not paying attention to us?
“I’m not sure if I’d say that the issues are being ignored by any one party more than another,” she continues. “However, I’d like the news media to give more attention to the issues of pre-flight Covid testing, tests required to enter Canada, where to get this information, etc. I’d like to see that on newscasts along with the daily Covid numbers.
Hansen Davey adds she would like to ask election candidates if they realize how important the tourism, travel and hospitality industries are to this country’s economy and why the three major political parties are “ignoring us —those who work in travel — completely.”
Rudolph Nareen of Toronto’s Astor Travel says he hasn’t heard candidates discuss travel and tourism to date.
“During the campaign, politicians should talk about the reopening of the travel and tourism sector, travel agents are locked between options or decisions to sell travel. I believe we should open Caribbean destinations for Canadian travellers, strong protocols are in place by luxury properties to ensure safety.”
Nareen says a recent KLM flight to Amsterdam demonstrated “how organized it was prior to boarding” and a subsequent Uniworld river cruise from Amsterdam to Basel was well organized when it came to safety, with passengers following the protocols.
Nareen adds that vaccine passports should be seen as necessary for Canadian business travellers.
Sheila Aue of TPI in Mississauga said all running in the election should be supportive of the travel industry.
“It is imperative that all parties have a plan to ensure that the travel sector — especially independent travel advisors and travel agencies — have financial aid to support them until travel is back to ‘normal’ standards. Travel Advisors are currently working for free for their clients planning future travel. Aid is needed to help support them during this time.”