CATO Pleads With Ottawa For Clarity On Travel Restriction

Anna Kroupina, Open Jaw

Brett Walker, CATO chair
and general manager of Collette.

Brett Walker, chair of the Canadian Association Of Tour Operators (CATO) and Collette general manager, has sent an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on behalf of CATO, urging the federal government to provide clarity on the ongoing advisory against non-essential travel outside Canada.

Ottawa's advisory against non-essential travel took effect mid-MAR, essentially stopping Canadians from any sort of tourist travel. In terms of inbound travel, all those arriving in Canada must quarantine for 14 days – effectively preventing incoming tourist travel and creating a further disincentive for Canadians thinking of travelling internationally, Walker writes. 

"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," reads the letter.

Now, fourth months after restrictions took hold, CATO members and the travel industry at large still "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," writes Walker. 

"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.

"The travel industry is unlike any other industry. It can be quickly stopped but not easily started. 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."

CATO membership includes major Canadian tour operators like WestJet Vacations, Sunwing Vacations, Goway Travel, G Adventures, The Travel Corporation, Globus, Cosmos, Collette, and many others. 

Walker emphasized these companies are a "vital part" of the travel landscape in Canada. CATO says the cumulative sales total of its membership is in the billions of dollars and has tax inputs of tens of millions. It adds that members employ tens of thousands of Canadians, and have a direct and indirect effect on many thousands of travel sellers, hotels, airlines and other suppliers.

Anna Kroupina

Anna Kroupina Journalist

Anna is OJ's newest member and she joins the team as a writer/reporter. She co-writes the daily news and covers events. Although she's new to the industry, pursuing a career path in travel/tourism has been a goal since her first family road trip to the Florida Keys sparked a desire to discover the world and this exhilarating, fast-paced industry.

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