Canada's Travel Rules Decimating Business Travel, Stifling Vancouver Tourism Industry

  • Mandatory pre-departure PCR testing for fully vaccinated international travellers is keeping international visitors at home and all but eliminating business travel
  • Small business operators in the Vancouver tourism and hospitality space join with the Canadian Travel & Tourism Roundtable to call on the federal government to remove the pre-departure PCR test for fully vaccinated visitors and to streamline their entry requirements with other countries

VANCOUVER, BC, Nov. 10, 2021 /CNW/ - Together with the Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable ("The Roundtable"), leaders representing the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, the British Columbia Hotel Association, Vancouver based travel agencies and Destination Vancouver are calling on the federal government to remove unnecessary and non-science-based obstacles to international travel, such as the pre-departure PCR test for fully vaccinated travellers, threatening the survival of Vancouver businesses and freezing business travel.

Tourism and business travel has been an economic anchor for the Greater Vancouver area, which has sustained a reputation as one of Canada's prime destinations for leisure, meetings, and event travellers. As the largest Canadian city located on the west coast, Vancouver is also Canada's gateway to the Pacific and the Far East – a critical catalyst to Canada's economic diversification and connection to the world. Vancouver's prime location has turned into a central hub for business travellers from Asia and the United States.

However, since the onset of the pandemic, business operators in Vancouver who have come to rely on international visitors are facing another winter season of continued economic decline. The federal government's mandatory pre-departure PCR test to enter the country is leading international travellers to do business elsewhere. Canadian businesses are being disadvantaged compared to their American and European peers.

In 2019, Vancouver welcomed over 11 million overnight visitors, contributing $14 billion in total revenues to the Metro Vancouver economy and supporting over 104,000 full-time jobs.1 By comparison, revenues fell by 70% in 2020.

Canada's rules run counter to the recommendations made by the federal government's COVID-19 Testing and Screening Expert Advisory Panel Report ("The Expert Panel"), which concluded that fully vaccinated travellers should not require a pre-departure test.

More concerning is the fact that Canada's travel rules are out of step with the international community, and our American neighbours to the south. Countries including France, Portugal, Germany and the United Kingdom have recognized that requiring pre-departure and arrival tests for vaccinated travellers is redundant and have exempted fully vaccinated travellers from pre-departure testing requirements. Any competitive advantage Vancouver might have secured in the lead up to 2020 risks being lost as other countries adopt common sense solutions to facilitate international commerce.  

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1  Vancouver's Tourism Industry Fast Facts – Destination Vancouver,

Many international businesses are finding it too burdensome to send their teams to Vancouver. As a result, businesses in Vancouver's travel and tourism industry are bracing – yet again – for booking cancellations, with international visitors looking to either cancel or delay long-awaited trips. This is making it difficult to resource, understand hiring needs and to predict demand.

The pandemic, vaccination status, and available science have changed; so too should the response and measures to keep Canadians safe while allowing the travel and tourism industry to re-open.  

Quotes

"Business travel from the U.S., Asia, and around the world has pretty much come to a complete halt, and that is hurting our cities, especially Vancouver's downtown core. Today we are joining the Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable in calling on the federal government to get rid of the pre-departure PCR text. Getting rid of unnecessary and outdated travel rules will help Vancouver get back to business."

Bridgitte Anderson
President & CEO, Greater Vancouver Board of Trade

"Vancouver's hospitality sector is heavily dependent on international business travel. Despite the broad availability of vaccines, and stable COVID-19 case and hospitalization rates across the country, many of our members are facing another winter season of staff cutbacks and low revenues as foreign visitors decide to stay home. As long as fully vaccinated foreign visitors continue to face unnecessary restrictions, this will continue to be the case, and businesses will continue to suffer. We need the federal government to make common-sense changes to the rules so British Columbia's hotels – and the families and communities they support – can get back to work."

Mike Macleod
Director, British Columbia Hotel Association

"Prior to the health pandemic, Vancouver welcomed over 11 million leisure and business travellers from around the world. The PCR test is a major barrier for international visitors who hope to travel to Vancouver and other parts of our province. The combination of testing availability and the high cost of a PCR test further complicates travel for all visitors to our destination.  We know that the rebuild of our industry will take time and we need the partnership of government to reduce the obstacles to travel so that our city's tourism businesses can recover."

Karen Soyka
Vice President of Strategy and Business Development, Destination Vancouver

"The PCR test signals to international business travellers that Canada is not open for business. It also takes longer to get back PCR test results, which presents logistical challenges for short business trips and trips with a packed agenda. If we continue down this path, we will be at a severe disadvantage to our peers in the U.S. and Europe."

Claire Newell
President, Travel Best Bets

About the Canadian Tourism Roundtable

The Canadian Tourism Roundtable is a cross-Canadian coalition of leaders in the tourism and travel sector – including representatives from airports, airlines, hotels, and chambers of commerce across the country – committed to working together to restart the sector smoothly and safely. Travel and Tourism is a $102 billion sector, employing millions of Canadians across the country and accounting for 2.1% of the country's gross domestic product. It advocates for a safe and prosperous tourism and travel sector across Canada. 

SOURCE Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable

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