With the recent news that the U.S. government will finally open the land border with Canada and Mexico, travel operators are hopeful for a rebound in tourism to both countries.
However, the travel industry feels that the PCR testing requirement to enter Canada is discouraging American tourists and is calling on the government to scrap it.
The travel industry also wants the Canadian government to implement a national vaccine passport so Canadians will feel more comfortable traveling internationally.
What Are The Current Travel Requirements Between Canada and The U.S.?
The Canadian border is currently open for recreational travel, but only for fully vaccinated travelers who produce a negative PCR test. It is the same for travelers entering by air.
Currently, Canadians can only enter the U.S. by air with a negative Covid-19 test. However, that is expected to change in November when the U.S. implements its requirement to be vaccinated, which is causing confusion for the millions of Canadians who received mixed vaccines and don’t yet know if they will be able to enter.
The United States is expected to open its land border for international travel in November, without a negative test requirement though proof of full immunization will be needed.
Business Groups Urge Canada to Scrap PCR Test Requirement at Border
Boards of trade, chambers of commerce and tourism organizations in the United States and Canada are calling on the Canadian government to scrap the requirements for a negative Covid-19 PCR test to travel from the U.S. to Canada.
The test can be costly, and many American tourists have decided not to travel to Canada because of the additional cost.
“What we hope to get to is just showing a vaccination card like you would have to for theatre, music of sports,” Bellingham Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO Guy Occhiogrosso said.
“When both sides of the border are aligned and it is similar to what we are all experience as a new normal, that is when we will see increase in normal activities.”
But all Canadian officials have said so far that the PCR requirement will continue for now.
“Our current testing regime that exists for both land and air crossings will remain the same at this time,” a statement from the federal minister of health’s office reads.
“As the COVID situation and international travel requirements remain fluid, officials and experts will continue to evaluate the measures in place, and make necessary adjustments as required.”
Travel Industry Calling On Government to Implement National Vaccine Passport
According to Global News, Canadian airports are still only operating at 40% capacity for domestic flights and 205 for international flights compared to pre-pandemic levels.
The Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA) feels many Canadians won’t book trips until it is implemented.
“The sooner this gets done, the sooner it will help the industry recover” said ACTA board member Richard Vanderlubbe.
He said that many people don’t feel confident enough to book a trip to an international destination with provincial documents.
“We are just not certain that a foreign country is going to recognize our provincial proof of vaccination.”
The Canadian Airports Council (CAC) agreed that one national internationally recognized vaccine passport would be easier for airlines and passengers.
“What we have now is a patchwork of rules from province to province,” said CAC President Daniel-Robert Gooch.
“We would like to see digital proof of vaccination that is nationally accepted standard around the country, but also aligned with what other countries are doing because people need consistency.”
Although the winter season is when many Canadians head to sun destinations, travel agencies are concerned that if there is confusion over vaccine passports and testing requirements, many people won’t be comfortable planning a trip.
ACTA is also calling on the government to update travel advisories and remove or update terms like “avoid non-essential travel” and “avoid all cruise ship travel” that are unclear and discourage Canadians from booking travel.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories