Toronto tourist attractions plead with government to reopen before summer ends
Toronto's biggest tourist attractions are calling on the government to present a clear plan for reopening and the resumption of international travel into Canada after being shuttered and losing out on income for many months.
Industry leaders, including spokespeople from Ripley's Aquarium, Mirvish Productions, Hilton Hotels and the Toronto Region Board of Trade along with the Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable (CTTR), outlined the dire situation tourist attractions face if forced to miss out on yet another entire summer of tourism revenue at a press conference Tuesday.
"The tourism and travel sector plays a vital role in the Toronto region economy and we are now on the brink of seeing two summer travel seasons be upended by the COVID-19 pandemic," said Lindsay Broadhead of the Toronto Region Board of Trade in a statement.
"Businesses like Ripley's Aquarium and Mirvish Productions provide critical cultural and economic value to Toronto's economy. Across both our tourism and business visitor economies, we need to have a plan in place to open – our business community has done all it can to ensure facilities are safe for visitors; it's time our cities' attractions are given the green light to re-open, they are more than ready."
According to the CTTR, no sector has been hit harder by COVID-19 restrictions than than the tourism and hospitality sectors.
And recent analysis from CTTR member Destination Toronto shows that Toronto lost out on more than $8 billion in economic activity through a lack of visitor spending — a number that increases to $14 billion for the entirety of the GTA.
As Canada Day approaches, The Roundtable says tourist attractions are once again missing out on the busiest travel weekend of the summer and that fully vaccinated Canadian and American travellers should be able to make concrete summer travel plans to visit Toronto.
The federal government has yet to publish a comprehensive reopening plan for international and domestic travel, particularly around fully vaccinated foreign nationals visiting Canada, and industry leaders say this must be urgently addressed before many beloved Toronto attractions are forced to face permanent closure.
"The Ripley's Aquarium has been shuttered since November 2020, and has had no revenue coming in. We are now well into the summer season, our busiest time of the year, and have no direction as to when we will be able to re-open," said Peter Doyle, General Manager of Ripley's Aquarium, in a statement.
"Toronto is one of the most vaccinated places in the world, yet the government has failed to tell Torontonians and Toronto businesses what they can look forward to as the vaccination effort continues. We have all been left in the dark. As a result, our business is struggling," he continued.
"We need to be given permission to re-open immediately and open to welcome our doors to international visitors. By prohibiting fully vaccinated travellers from entering Canada the government is significantly disadvantaging Canadian businesses that, after 16 months of a pandemic, need a successful summer season to survive."
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