Open or closed borders? Quarantine mandatory or not? At the dawn of the summer season, the rules governing interprovincial travel remain unclear, deplores the tourism industry, which urges Ottawa and the provinces, including Quebec, to clarify the rules of the game and open borders.
Otherwise, the scars are likely to be sharp for this sector completely paralyzed by the COVID-19 pandemic, underlines the grouping of the Round Table on Tourism in a six-page letter sent to Prime Minister François Legault and his counterparts from other provinces.
“Urgent measures are therefore necessary to prevent the effects on the economy and jobs that will turn out to be permanent if the situation is not corrected,” said the group in its letter.
The 30 signatories, including leaders of air carriers like Air Canada, tour operator Transat A.T., hotel chains Marriott and Germain, as well as business and tourism associations like Tourisme Montreal, also questioned the Trudeau government last week.
Since international tourists and business customers are not likely to attend this year, the industry wants a clear framework for interprovincial travel in the hope of being able to take advantage of the months of July and August to to prepare for an already difficult autumn.
“We have to be able to reach all possible customers. This is going to be crucial, “said Germain Hotels co-founder and co-president Christiane Germain, who was among the signatories, said in a telephone interview on Tuesday.
According to the most recent data from the Quebec Tourism Industry Alliance, the sector had 402,000 workers and about 30,160 businesses. In addition to the letter sent to Mr. Legault, the industry is also requesting an assistance plan from the Quebec government.
To get through the crisis
Greater “consistency” could both “save the tourism season” and give the industry time to prepare to ensure safety protocols are followed, the letter said.
“Tourism has been clearly underestimated in the recovery,” deplored the President and CEO of Tourisme Montréal, Yves Lalumière, on the phone. Every day counts for the industry. It’s not clear today if you can go to Toronto. We are not talking about tourism and we went in mid-June. “
Currently, some provinces have very strict rules. Although border controls will be relaxed in New Brunswick as of June 19 to allow owners and those with family to enter the province, a quarantine of 14 days will be mandatory.
At Groupe Germain, activities continued in 13 of the 18 hotels in the chain despite the pandemic. The occupancy rate is slowly approaching the 10% mark, according to Germain. There is therefore no shortage of rooms to accommodate visitors from other provinces.
With regard to health issues, Ms. Germain argued that since cleanliness is one of the sector’s “business cards”, hotels are already well prepared.
“There are new health procedures, but this is not Chinese for us,” launched the leader of Groupe Germain. Normally, we already have dedicated maintenance staff in our establishments. “
Last year, Montreal attracted more than 11 million tourists, according to data from Tourisme Montréal, which predicts that the pandemic will deprive the metropolis of about 10 million visitors. The lack of a clear framework could also continue to have an impact on business tourism until 2021 since several companies will be reluctant to make reservations in advance, warns the group.
By the end of April, 70 of the 140 or so conferences scheduled for Montreal by the end of the month had been canceled due to the pandemic, Tourisme Montréal reported.
Business tourism is raking in a wide net, since it includes congresses bringing together professionals as well as events such as the National Hockey League draft – which was to take place later this month in the metropolis, but which has been postponed.