March 1, 2021

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Just Do Travel

New Travel Rules Devastating for Agents and Industry: ACTA and ACITA

3 min read

ACTA and ACITA are sounding the alarm for travel agents and travel agencies following the federal government’s announcement of tough new travel news. But ACITA says Ottawa is at last talking about financial help for agents.

“The news of earlier today with respect to the suspension of flying to the Caribbean and Mexico as well as significant related restrictions is absolutely devastating for all sectors within the travel industry – from airlines to hotels, tour operators, travel agencies, travel agents, independent contractors and all other businesses that rely on tourism,” ACTA President Wendy Paradis said on Friday.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday announced that Canadian airlines will cease flying to the Caribbean and Mexico as of yesterday, and that the ban will continue through April 30. He also announced tough, new testing rules and quarantine regulations that will radically reduce travel demand.

“Without enhanced and urgent aid, and protection against commission recall there will be imminent business closures and bankruptcies among travel agencies and independent contractors – as we have been warning the federal government,” she added. “However, as we have been stating for months to the federal government, travel agencies and travel agents cannot survive the brunt of about $200 million in recall commission on cancelled and refunded bookings related to the COVID-19 crisis.

“ACTA reinforced the impact of these latest travel restrictions to the Federal Government again today and reinforced our message that any aid given to an airline or tour operator MUST include funding to cover travel agent recall commissions, and for a FUND to cover past bookings already recalled.

Paradis said that while, of course, ACTA understands the importance of protecting the health of Canadians, the impact of the new measures of suspended flights, new testing on arrival on top of the pre-boarding testing, mandatory hotel quarantines and other initiatives will further delay any meaningful recovery for the entire industry.

“We require immediate and focused discussions with the government to ensure not only the safety of Canadians and travelers –but of our travel businesses,” she said. “Travel agencies and travel agents need aid now. Our industry has been effectively shut down.”

“We have been patiently waiting for his impending announcement that has been teased for weeks, initialized at the beginning of the year,” said Nancy Wilson of ACITA. “While we welcome a decision, and were hoping for a detailed plan, we again find ourselves disappointed with the lack of information, as well as the thought processes that went into this decision making.”

Wilson said Trudeau opened his statement, recognizing that only 2% of cases has been brought about by travel, “yet has again directed all his measures to protect Canadians from this virus, by restricting travel.”

“With only a cancellation of flights to Caribbean destinations, we feel this has not addressed the seriousness of the issues with Community spread or provided additional support to the Provinces to get this spread under control, where the majority of the issues are, not to mention that the majority of critical issues with this virus are not originating in Caribbean destinations.

“We are however, hopeful that this will bring the urgency of sector aid to the forefront, for all of our businesses affected by these cancellations. Airline staff and all related sectors are now in critical need for support to survive. While they recognized airlines will need aid, no announcements on that leaves us again scrambling, and concerned for the future of our businesses. Independent advisors, as well as travel advisors in storefront agencies, and travel agency owners are at a greater risk today of shutting their doors for good, and the work we have ahead of us is paramount to ensure we can limit those closures as much as possible.

“It was encouraging to hear, for the first time, from Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, travel agents mentioned, regarding sector aid. We will look at this as a positive step forward, and as an opportunity to further dialogue on the urgent need for commission protection with any bailout packages.”