By: Ian Stalker
The head of Destination Canada is warning those in the travel industry that there won’t be any quick fix to the woes that have befallen this country’s tourist trade because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Marsha Walden said during a recent joint Destination Canada/TIAC webinar that a “full recovery” from the pandemic may not come before 2025, but that Canadians who like to travel abroad can be part of the rebuilding process by now choosing to vacation within this country’s borders.
If Canadians begin spending just two-thirds of what they normally spend on outbound travel on domestic travel instead a full recovery of Canadian tourism could be advanced significantly, she added.
“Canadian dollars matter a lot,” Walden said.
Walden said the pandemic has “actually wiped out 35 years of (tourism industry) growth” and tourism firms are having to “limp along on very little revenue.”
The unemployment rate in the travel sector is twice that of the rest of the economy, she added.
Walden welcomed a November survey that found that 84% of Canadians believe tourism is somewhat or very important to the economy.
Walden said having people see their friends and families travelling would go a long way in restoring confidence in travel within Canada.
“We need Canadians to once again host visitors… be the welcoming country we’ve always been,” she said.
TIAC president Beth Potter, who also participated in the webinar, agreed that it’s important to get “Canadians moving around the country” and residents need to welcome visitors.
She also said governments should work to reopen international borders, adding there are “thousands of business in this country that “rely almost solely on international visitors.”
She said authorities should reconsider current quarantine requirements, attaching more importance to rapid testing and contact tracing instead.
Potter said it’s important visitors are offered a safe and healthy environment, adding the vaccination process is critical to that.
Potter warned that the travel industry won’t be able to restart on a moment’s notice and suggested authorities consider a time frame for a major relaunch, giving travel firms plenty of time to prepare.
Meanwhile, Potter urged tourism students not to give up on their planned careers, adding tourism needs the enthusiasm and energy they will bring.