COVID-19: Travel industry wants testing rules loosened for fully vaccinated visitors
Travel industry stakeholders in Vancouver called on the federal government to drop the pre-departure PCR test requirement for fully vaccinated travellers coming to Canada, saying it is hurting current and future hotel and conference bookings.
“The federal government’s own expert panel, in fact, does not recommend the approach. They said it’s unnecessary for fully vaccinated travellers,” said Greater Vancouver Board of Trade president and CEO Bridgitte Anderson, referring to Ottawa’s COVID-19 Testing and Screening Expert Advisory Panel.
The panel’s report calls for eliminating pre-departure PCR tests and testing for fully vaccinated travellers 10 days after arrival, but it says for “surveillance purposes, administer PCR tests on arrival.”
The recent reopening of the land border with the U.S. was a welcomed step, but Anderson emphasized that having to do pre-departure PCR tests was “costly” and “cumbersome” for travellers.
“The added cost of a PCR test makes travel to Vancouver more expensive. That makes us less competitive with every destination in the world competing for the fully vaccinated traveller,” said Karen Soyka, vice-president of strategy and business development of Destination Vancouver.
While local and domestic travellers have so far propped up local tourism, “travellers from the United States bring in nearly double what a domestic traveller spends in our destination, and other international visitors spend nearly three times as much as a domestic traveller,” said Soyka.
She said that, in 2020, 193 different business meetings and events booked for Vancouver were cancelled.