The CEO of Westjet and the Canadian Travel & Tourism Roundtable have joined those calling on the Trudeau government to drop its travel mandates and restrictions.
At a Wednesday press conference in Ottawa, the Travel & Tourism Roundtable, which is made up of industry leaders, called on the government to remove remaining border Covid restrictions by Jun. 15.
Hotel Association of Canada president and CEO Susie Grynol said that “travel volumes are increasing but Covid restrictions and requirements continue to linger,” adding that this is “creating congestion at our airports and contributing to a poor impression of Canada.”
She also said that restrictions add “uncertainty, frustration and anxiety to the traveller experience” and hurt local tourism operators and hotels. Grynol said she believes that Canada should follow other countries including Italy, the United Kingdom and Switzerland in fully opening up travel.
Interim president and CEO of the National Airlines Association of Canada Suzanne Acton-Gervais agreed.
“Canadians are eager to return to travel,” she said, adding that “part of welcoming travellers back is ensuring that their experience is predictable, timely and enjoyable, with clear service standards and performance metrics similar to other nations.”
“It is time for the government of Canada to revisit COVID-19 pandemic restrictions placed on air travel, in line with the growing list of over 50 countries that have removed barriers to travel all together.”
Meanwhile, vice-president and general manager of American Express Global Business Travel Patrick Doyle said that Covid restrictions “are contributing to loss and postponement of business travel, conferences and events across the country.”
“Just as our sector is starting to get back on its feet, the last thing we need is another setback.”
Doyle said that the situation at Toronto’s Pearson airport is troubling given Pearson is the first impression many travellers get when they arrive in Canada.
“…With those long delays we are sending the wrong message, we’re telling them Canada is not open for business,” he said.
Interim president and CEO of the Canadian Airports Council, Monette Pasher reiterated her previous statement that regular travel and public health protocols cannot coexist.
Saying that pandemic restrictions are taking up to four times longer for passengers to get through customs, Pasher also called on the federal government to remove on-site mandatory random testing, Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) duplicate health check questions and vaccine mandates for border service and air transport security employees.
Westjet CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech has also called on Trudeu’s mandates to end.
In a tweet posted Tuesday, he said that the vaccine mandate for air passengers and employees should be dropped, adding that “as vaccines are not preventing the spreading of the virus since omicron, there is no more logic to maintain it.”
Von Hoensbroech also said that ending the mandates would “relax some of the operational challenges” at airports.
In another tweet, Von Hoensbroech shared a picture of himself maskless on a European plane, and highlighted that masks were not required. He also previously said Canada should “rethink” mandatory masking on flights.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) also demanded last week that the Trudeau government drop its Covid travel restrictions.
Trudeau doubled down on his travel mandates and restrictions when asked for comment on industry leaders’ demands, saying that “we’re still in a pandemic.”
“We are still at risk, particularly at risk as fall approaches, of new variants,” Trudeau told CTV “We need to make sure we do everything we can to keep Canadians safe.”