THUNDER BAY – COVID-19 Update – The Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable (“The Roundtable”) are calling on the Prime Minister and the Government of Canada not to introduce additional blanket, restrictive border and travel measures and to continue to focus on more meaningful interventions to ensure Canadians are protected throughout this pandemic, like testing and vaccination.
Travel bans and border restrictions are ineffective tools to halt Omicron as the variant has already taken hold in Canada. Introducing additional and overly restrictive travel measures at this time is not rooted in science, does little to stop the spread of the Omicron variant in Canada and creates an enormous amount of harm to an industry already on its knees. Closing borders and preventing travel is simply not the solution.
Over the past 20 months, the Canadian travel and tourism sector has worked hand-in-hand with government to ensure the safety of Canadians and those travelling to Canada. The sector remains one of the safest internationally; all air passengers must be fully vaccinated, all passengers have tested negative for COVID-19 prior to travel, and all are tested a second time upon arrival. Canada is the only country in the western world to test travellers twice. No other activity in Canada can claim this degree of scrutiny, and no other country in the Americas or Western Europe maintains this level of precaution.
Westjet Expresses Strong Opposition to Travel Advisory
The WestJet Group today is expressing its strong opposition to the travel advisory issued by the Government of Canada. The targeted advice outlined today is not based on science and data and significantly undermines aviation’s proven safety record in response to COVID-19. These measures are a setback in Canada’s progress and its successful transition from relying on blanket advisories and policies.
“Air travel is the most tested and protected consumer activity in Canada, every person travelling internationally is tested on average twice throughout their travel journey,” said Harry Taylor, WestJet President and CEO. “As the only fully-vaccinated air travel sector in the world, WestJet is calling on the government to publicly share the travel related COVID-19 data that has been used to re-impose the advisory and advice targeted towards fully-vaccinated Canadians and the travel and tourism industry.”
International travel standards and policies should be harmonized, yet Canada’s travel measures remain firmly out of step with border policies enacted across the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States. The advisory announced today, contradicts WHO’s guidance that states blanket travel bans will not prevent the international spread of COVID-19 and adversely affect lives and livelihoods. The Government of Canada should continue to focus on vaccinations and testing, as the pathway for safe and fully-vaccinated international air travel must be preserved.
“Since the onset of the pandemic, we have safely flown more than seven million guests and air travel has been commended for its commitment to safety. Fully-vaccinated Canadians should not be singled-out for choosing to take part in a safe activity,” continued Taylor. “Travel bans, restrictions and blanket advisories are devastating to the continued economic recovery of our country and place tens of thousands of recently recalled Canadian travel and tourism jobs at risk. We are very concerned today’s announcement will create unnecessary disruption and chaos in advance of the holiday travel season.”
Since the onset of the pandemic, The WestJet Group has responded to COVID-19 to ensure the safety of all. The airline has implemented its own measures in response to the pandemic including a zero-tolerance mask policy, enhancing health and safety measures, suspending sun flights and implementing the airline’s mandatory vaccination policy for employees and air travellers.