The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, travel companies and families are calling on the federal government to remove “unnecessary and not science-based” barriers to international travel, such as pre-departure PCR testing for fully vaccinated travelers.
At a press conference sponsored today by the Canadian Roundtable on Travel and Tourism, several parties said the high costs of PCR tests required to return to Canada have a disproportionate impact on average Canadian families.
A PCR test can add upwards of $ 200 per person or an additional $ 800 for a family of four for a round-trip cross-border flight.
“The PCR test is a major obstacle for middle-class families hoping to cross the border,” says Sheila Gallant-Halloran, owner of Lush Life Travel.
“The result is that families just don’t travel. The cost and inconvenience are too high, and until the federal government takes action to reduce the barriers to travel, small Canadian tourism businesses like mine will not be able to fully recover, ”he added. owner of the travel agency.
The Canadian Tourism Roundtable is a pan-Canadian coalition of tourism and travel industry leaders – including representatives from airports, airlines, hotels and chambers of commerce from across the country – committed to working together to relaunch the sector smoothly and safely.
On another topic, the group points out that unvaccinated minors traveling with their fully vaccinated parents cannot attend school, daycare and camp for two weeks after the trip, which could add the cost of two weeks. additional private child care, which adds to the deterrent to travel. .
The group suggests that until a vaccine for minors under 12 is approved, children should return to school using testing, not quarantine.
“Canadian families deserve to be treated equally when traveling,” said Perrin Beatty,
President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
“In France and the UK, children can travel with their fully immunized parents, making travel to see family and friends more accessible to the middle class. Many other countries have implemented science-based policies, including exempting fully vaccinated travelers from testing requirements. Canada should follow suit.
Ottawa parent David Schwartz also spoke at the press conference, detailing the impact of the demands on average families.
“The pandemic has had a huge impact on our family. We looked forward to bringing our children to visit family members across the border,” Schwartz said.
“We have done our part. My wife and I have been vaccinated. But it is almost impossible for us to do so. The cost of the PCR test adds almost $ 1,000 more to our trip, and then our kids can’t go to school for two weeks, resulting in extra child care costs. We need the government to change the rules so that we can see our loved ones again. “
The roundtable suggests that the pandemic, vaccine status and available science have changed and that the requirements should evolve as well, keeping Canadians safe while allowing the travel and tourism industry to reopen.
Otherwise, the group suggests that many travel bookings for the coming months will be canceled or delayed, further damaging an industry that has suffered greatly during the pandemic.