The Tourism Industry Association of Canada has launched a new campaign that calls on the federal government to articulate a plan for reopening the Canada-U.S. border. The campaign focuses on the urgent need to commit to a date to open the border, before the summer tourism season is lost, and to allow for the future planning that is so vital to the return of business travel – including meetings and events.
With Toronto now beginning Step One of the province’s re-opening plan, a much needed influx of local business is on the way. It’s been a long time coming! Multiple waves of the pandemic, phased re-openings, then stay-at-home orders and a lockdown have frozen Toronto longer than any other region in North America. Simply put, it’s been a devastating 15 months for Toronto’s tourism and hospitality community.
But even with the current staged approach to re-opening, the businesses in our community cannot fully recover until tourism returns. The impact of visitor spending extends deep into our economy. In the first year of the pandemic alone, Toronto lost $8.35 billion in economic activity from lost visitor spending. That’s spending on food and beverage, accommodations, retail, attractions, and arts & culture, to name just a few.
The hotel industry in particular is reliant on travellers experiencing our city overnight for business, leisure, and visiting friends and family. We cannot “hyper local” our way back to hotel recovery. Overnight visitors must return, and for that, we need to rely on the return of U.S travellers – Toronto’s largest international visitor market.
Beyond this, Toronto is Canada’s most visited destination, reliant on international visitors attracted to our destination as the business, tech, entertainment and finance capital of Canada. Action now means recovery for industries that fuel the economy not just in our city, but across the province and the country.
A border re-opening plan gives Toronto’s tourism operators and businesses the ability to plan for themselves. Businesses need time to retrain, rehire and market. And it gives travellers the ability to know when they can book trips to Toronto, supporting the many businesses that rely on advance bookings.
TIAC has created a new website to support advocacy efforts. Visit openuscanborder.ca to find out more about how you can support the initiative.