canada travel

Travel industry calls on Canada to scrap rules as more countries welcome tourists back

Travel has been difficult and not advised for the past two years, but those in the tourism industry want things to return to normal.

There was a brief time at the end of October that travel seemed possible again but Omicron put Canada back in a travel advisory just as we headed into the holiday season. Canada's advisory, warning against all non-essential travel, has been in place since Dec. 15.

Now that Omicron cases seem to have peaked, the travel industry wants Canada to get rid of restrictions. Yesterday, WestJet slammed Canada for continuing advisories and measures that are killing the industry.

The Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable, a coalition of industry representatives, is also calling on the federal government to loosen up the rules, saying Canada's current COVID-19 travel restrictions are "obsolete and out of step with other countries worldwide."

The vast majority of Canadian travellers are fully vaccinated, as is the industry which serves them, a press release from the Roundtable notes.

"COVID-19 testing at the border does not make any sense; travel is no more risky than other activities and there is no scientific reason to single it out," said Dr. Zain Chagla, infectious diseases physician and associate professor at McMaster University.

"When first put in place, Canada's travel rules were designed to keep COVID-19 out of the country. Now that the virus is here and community spread is responsible for approximately 99 per cent of all infections, the rules governing travel are obsolete."

It appears the world is ready to welcome Canadian travellers again.

On Feb. 10, the Philippines ended a nearly two-year travel ban, and is now welcoming vaccinated foreign travellers. Bali, Indonesia, also opened to vaccinated international travellers recently.

New Zealand announced it would be opening up for visitors from Australia this month and other travellers by July at the earliest, finally easing up on tough border rules that have been in place since 2020.

Australia will reopen to all fully vaccinated visa holders, welcoming the return of tourists, business travellers, and other visitors starting on Feb. 21. Visa holders who are not fully vaccinated will still require a valid travel exemption to enter Australia, and will be subject to state and territory quarantine requirements.

Anyone looking to travel in the coming months may get the chance soon.

"Every day that goes by, there are more countries easing restrictions," Wendy Paradis, with the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA), told CTV News Toronto.

Lead photo by

Rod Long

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