Opinion: It’s time for Canadians to start traveling again

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Government must save the summer season which is the cornerstone of so many Canadian workers and businesses

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The big question Canadians are asking themselves on the eve of summer vacation is whether it is okay to travel.

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Over the past 16 months, the tourism industry has made adjustments to help ensure the safety and peace of mind of travelers. A successful Canadian vaccination campaign is taking hold and COVID-19 cases are drastically decreasing. The provinces are starting to announce the lifting of the restrictions. We seem to finally be on the verge of returning to life as we know it – and that should include travel.

Still, we risk missing another critical summer season, given the lack of a clear government plan to reopen borders and restart the tourism sector. Most tourism in Canada takes place in the summer, and a wide range of tourism-related businesses are facing dire straits. Many will not survive the loss of a second summer.

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The travel restrictions the government put in place as COVID-19 plagued Canada’s health care system was appropriate and largely successful. Now, before it’s too late, the government should heed its own expert advisers and provide a return-to-travel schedule, based on advice from health officials, to save the summer season which is the cornerstone. of so many Canadian workers and businesses.

As public health and government officials have repeatedly told us, vaccinations are the most important part of getting back to normal life. After a slow start due to vaccine supply issues, Canada is quickly becoming one of the most vaccinated countries in the world. Marriott International has joined Faster, Together, a coalition of unions, businesses and individuals encouraging Canadians to get vaccinated. We have also introduced our Immunization Care Program, which offers training, flexible scheduling and financial reward at our managed hotels for employees who get vaccinated.

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The recent announcement of the lifting of some quarantine restrictions for fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents offers some optimism. But this is a small first step that does not give Canadians anything to look forward to as the vaccination effort continues. In other G7 countries, guidelines have been updated to allow most activities to resume.

Not everyone is ready to travel tomorrow, and it is important that we continue to follow public health advice. But Canadians should be able to travel, free from shame and anxiety, and within the confines of proven safety protocols. And fully vaccinated international travelers should once again be able to travel to Canada and enjoy the extraordinary destinations the country has to offer. Currently, Canadians can travel outside of their country, but are discouraged from traveling within Canada by a confusing patchwork of provincial restrictions, while even vaccinated international travelers remain banned from traveling to Canada. . It just doesn’t make sense.

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The travel industry has taken extraordinary measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Marriott has spent the past 16 months implementing enhanced health and safety protocols as part of our “Commitment to Cleaning”, investing in “contactless” technologies and refining core service procedures at customers who have been the hallmark of the industry for nearly 100 years. We know that reintroducing travel requires serious and committed effort – and we are not alone.

The interdependence between hotels, airlines, cruise lines, national and provincial parks, tourist attractions and many more means that we operate within a network of carefully woven ropes. Destinations that lose airline connectivity will inevitably see their economic viability decline as other industries are abandoned. Destinations that allow airline arrivals, but have few or no operating hotels, will see a drop in the number of visits – and, ultimately, in consumer spending. In a non-pandemic time, one in 10 jobs is linked to the Canadian tourism industry. Without a thriving travel industry, Canadians cannot return to work and life the way they want.

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  1. A cruise ship in Vancouver in 2017.

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  2. People line up to receive a COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, May 19, 2021 in Calgary.

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  3. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

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Beyond the economy, Canadians finally deserve to get out there and enjoy life and travel again. The positive effects of travel on our mental health and social well-being cannot be overstated. The mantra of “staying at home” has certainly had an impact on the psyche of people. But travel is at the heart of how connections are made, how business is conducted, and how we learn, explore and discover. The journey has transformative power as a vital path to growth, healing and unity. We have become comfortable with the discomfort of the past 16 months. But we are meant to experience the world, not run away from it.

We and our travel and tourism peers are ready to welcome travelers. Governments will count on our industry to help strengthen Canada’s economic vitality. We hope they start to change the conversation and allow us to do just that.

Don Cleary is President of Marriott Hotels Canada.

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In-depth reporting on The Logic’s innovation economy, presented in partnership with the Financial Post.

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