The world has finally started to reopen this year, leading to some of the most intense travel demand ever seen. It’s made for a chaotic travel season, but it’s also meant that many countries and destinations are breaking tourism records. Croatia, Greece, Austria, Los Cabos, Cancun, and many other areas are smashing previous arrival records from before the pandemic. However, not all countries see the same tourism growth. Specifically, Canadian and Australian tourist arrivals are still much lower than pre-pandemic levels.
How Bad Is It?
Canada and Australia are both far below their pre-pandemic visitor counts, but Australia is the worst. Travel data shows Australian arrivals down by 65% when compared to pre-pandemic levels. Likewise, Canada is down by 31% compared to pre-pandemic levels when combining international air arrivals and land arrivals from the United States.
What’s The Hold-Up?
Many countries around the world began dropping all Covid requirements as early as March in order to bolster tourism efforts. Canada and Australia were much more cautious in their approach. Both countries have had some of the harshest rules and regulations regarding Covid. The countries only recently started to ease requirements. Australia is now completely reopen but has only been that way for about a month. The country dropped all of its Covid entry requirements in early July, making it one of the slowest tourist destinations to do so.
Canada is worse regarding entry requirements and lagging far behind the most developed countries, as it still has several strict rules in place. Unvaccinated travelers still cannot visit Canada without compelling reasons, such as a death in the family. However, even if unvaccinated travelers can gain entry to Canada, they will be subject to Covid testing and a mandatory 14-day quarantine. As other countries completely strip away all Covid rules, Canada’s approach seems draconian. Especially after the continued loosening of guidelines from the CDC.
Canadian Travel Woes
As if the strict measures weren’t bad enough, Canada has hit several other bumps on the road to tourism recovery. Most notably, Toronto Pearson International Airport is currently the worst airport in the world for flight delays. Between May 26th and July 19th, Pearson had 52.5% of their scheduled flights delayed. Travelers are aware of how bad delays and cancellations have been this summer, but Toronto Pearson takes the cake. If Covid entry requirements weren’t holding travelers off from a trip to Canada, the state of its largest airport certainly might be.
Another significant roadblock for travel to Canada is the ArriveCAN app. The app was initially intended to serve as a Covid-19 screening app for travelers to prove their vaccination status before arrival. Non-compliant travelers were subject to delays, a quarantine, or even a $5000 CAD fine. The app has received criticism for privacy concerns and numerous bugs that have made its use frustrating for travelers.
Recently the app glitched out and told vaccinated travelers that they had to quarantine or face a $5000 CAD fine. Many travelers are unaware of the app or may not even have a smartphone. This leads to further delays at border control as short-staffed border control workers have to take time away to walk travelers through the app.
The Bottom Line
Canada and Australia had some of the strictest responses to the Covid-19 pandemic and have been slow to ease Covid-era requirements. When compared to countries like Greece, which doesn’t even require travelers to quarantine after testing positive, Canada and Australia’s responses look especially harsh. Although Australia has reopened completely and Canada is partially open, travelers have not felt comfortable going back to these destinations.
Travelers may have lost trust in these destinations and fear getting caught up in the mix of freshly implemented travel restrictions on holiday. While many tourist destinations around the world continue to outpace previous arrival records, it looks like Canada and Australia will be waiting a long time for their recovery.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com