OTTOWA, Ontario —According to a recent CBC article, politicians from both U.S. parties are pressing President Joe Biden to just move ahead unilaterally — and fling open America’s border to Canadian travel. However, the Canadian government is leaning towards a more cautionary approach.
“We have to look at what variants of concern are present in Canada and, indeed, the situation around the world, because every step of the way we’re going to be cautious and responsible in the way we move forward. We’re all eager to get back to normal but we’re going to make sure we’re doing it in a way that is safe for Canadians,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on June 22.
Non-essential travel between the U.S. and Canada has been severely restricted since March 2020 and last week, the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) launched a campaign calling on the federal government to reopen the Canada-U.S. border. The campaign focuses on getting Canadian decision-makers to acknowledge the urgent need and to commit to a date to open the border, before another summer tourism season is lost.
Trade shows, conventions and meetings require advance booking, Beth Potter, President and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC), said, adding that Canadian tourism operators and businesses need to have the ability to plan. “We need time to market, rebook, rehire and retrain. We will be ready to welcome visitors, but we require more time to plan than the flick of a switch.”
As other countries start welcoming travelers, Canada has fallen behind, Potter said. “We must prepare to open the border quickly and safely, and in turn, restart our visitor economy. Without question, now is time for the federal government to put in place an evidence-based plan to reopen the border to restart travel.”
According to Global News Canada, as of June 28thth, Canada hit all COVID-19 vaccine milestones as just over 77% of its citizens have received one dose and 30% are fully vaccinated. This is very good news indeed, for a country that surpassed its neighbor in active infection control, only to fall far behind when vaccines began their rollout. The blip was only temporary and Canadians are being vaccinated in record numbers and anxious to welcome back both tourists and trade shows. And according to Our World in Data, 46.8% of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated, so the question remains: When can we visit back and forth?
“We are beginning to welcome back our local clients now, and are hopeful and optimistic that we can look to host larger groups — including international clients — in the not-too-distant future when the time is right. We are seeing a great deal of optimism with our clients looking to book into the future at our venue,” Claire Smith, VP Sales & Marketing, Vancouver Convention Centre, said.
“The signs of the border between the U.S. and Canada opening July 21 is indeed positive,” Cathy Breden, EVP/COO, CMP, CAE, CEM, International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE), said. “And, hearing that the Province of Ontario is moving to Step 2 of its Reopening Plan on 30 June is also a step in the right direction, even if indoor trade and consumer events are not yet permitted. Just like the U.S., the exhibitions industry and other live experiences have been hit particularly hard in Canada. I know our colleagues at the Canadian Association of Exposition Management are working with the Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses to get the message out that businesses are hurting and may not survive. IAEE stands ready to assist our colleagues to the north and their efforts to get back to business.”
Find out if you can enter Canada here