Travel industry calls for end to COVID-19 measures at Mississauga’s Pearson Airport

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Published March 10, 2022 at 4:56 pm

Mississauga plane

The Canadian travel and tourism industry and Toronto business leaders are pushing Ottawa to eliminate the remaining travel restrictions in place at Pearson Airport in Mississauga.

Specifically, they’re calling on the federal government to remove the pre-departure rapid antigen test for fully vaccinated travellers by April 1, when the regulations will be updated.

Countries that have already removed that requirement include Denmark, the United KingdomSwitzerlandIreland and Norway.

“Travel and tourism are massive economic drivers in our province, and many businesses in Toronto depend on international travellers, particularly business travellers,” Lindsay Broadhead, a senior vice-president with the Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable, said at a press conference earlier today (March 10). “There are many reasons for optimism as we look forward to our economic recovery. It is time to re-establish our position as a welcoming place for visitors by removing obstacles to travel, including the rapid-antigen test. We are one of the most vaccinated places in the world and boast a business community that is agile and adept at responding to various changing circumstances on the ground. We are ready for this moment.” 

The roundtable, local business leaders, the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), American Express Global Business Travel and Destination Toronto have joined forces to urge Ottawa to remove restrictions in the next three weeks.

In 2019, business travel in Canada contributed over $40 billion annually to the Canadian economy and supported some 600,000 jobs, the roundtable notes.

The pandemic has disproportionally impacted business travel; at the height of the pandemic, business travel dropped close to 90 per cent, representing a monthly loss of $2.9 billion, the group says.

“Notwithstanding the current pandemic state, defined by mass vaccination and low levels of hospitalizations, business travel has not returned to pre-pandemic levels,” the industry representatives say. “Today, business travel is about 30 per cent of 2019 volumes. The federal government’s travel restrictions are a significant deterrent, discouraging international companies from resuming travel into Canada.”

Nancy Tudorache, a GBTA regional vice-president, said it’ll take time for business travel to recover and Ottawa’s help is crucial.

“Pre-departure testing is a barrier to business travel. Canada’s travel rules complicate business planning, do not permit flexibility or schedule changes, add tremendous uncertainty, hurt productivity and create financial burdens for businesses looking to send their employees into or returning to Canada,” she said. “GBTA’s forecast estimates that business travel in Canada, subject to the federal government’s lifting of travel rules, will not recover to pre-pandemic levels until 2024, hence the urgent nature of our requests.”

 

 

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