'It's obvious there is no plan': Quarantine rules frustrate tourism, travel sectors
B.C.’s tourism industry was hopeful the Canadian government’s new plan to relax quarantine rules would jumpstart a much-needed recovery.
Instead, there’s concern that Wednesday’s announcement that only Canadian citizens and permanent residents will be allowed to skip the 14-day quarantine by early July if they test negative before and after their flights home could actually harm tourist-dependent businesses.
John Nicholson, vice president of the Listel Hotel, which has locations in Whistler and downtown Vancouver, says if Canadians decide to forego staycations and travel outside our borders, this summer could be worse than 2020.
“All those dollars that we were hoping to get are now leaving the country, and nothing’s coming in to replace it,” Nicholson said.
With the summer travel season on the horizon, he says tourist-dependant businesses need to know what to expect.
“What’s the plan? When can we have the Americans come up? How do they do the vaccine passport? How does the international traveller come?”
The federal government insists discussions are taking place about when and how to welcome back international tourists.
“We do want to be careful and cautious on these next steps to make sure we are not putting that recovery in jeopardy,” said federal Health Minister Patti Hajdu. “In terms of the planning, that planning is underway.”
Nicholson is skeptical it will happen this summer.
“There is no plan; it’s obvious that there’s no plan,” he said. “We are looking for some guidance on when tourists will come back. We can’t survive on B.C. residents or even Canadian residents. In our industry, in Vancouver, we need international travel, and we need it now.”
The travel industry is also frustrated with Wednesday’s announcement on easing quarantine rules for fully vaccinated Canadians.
“There are more questions than answers,” said Allison Wallace, director of media and communications for Flight Centre Canada.
There is no firm date on when the rules will take effect, and no information on how the changes will affect families travelling with children who are too young to be immunized or how testing and proof of vaccination will work.
“What we would like is details,” said Wallace. “We want details as to when people can travel without quarantine, what will be accepted in terms of test results and proof of vaccination, so that we can get all of these things in place for people to travel safely and without too many headaches.”
She’s advising her clients not to book summer travel outside of Canada until the new rules are clarified.
“If someone asks the question, ‘Can I go here and what will I need?’ we simply don’t have the answers just yet,” Wallace said. “When there’s this idea there’s going to be an announcement made about easing restrictions and there’s no details, it’s just a really frustrating position to be in.”