Decoupling tourism from travel is an ongoing battle, but with so little detail in the federal budget on how the entirety of the sector is to be revived, the specific focus on festivals and local events throughout the text is astonishing, to say the least.
The first section on support for tourism and hospitality introduces the programs thusly “Canadians are also eager to return to the local festivals and places they know and love.”
One imagines chuck wagons and snowmen while airlines burn.
Nonetheless, pandemic-battered travel and tourism industries will receive about $1.5 billion in targeted support.
There is recognition the two sectors have been among the hardest hit due to restrictions and closures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The split is $1 billion for the tourism industry and $465 million for air travel and airports.
Clearly festivals trump flying.
Here is how the $465 million earmarked for travel is to be spent:
“To facilitate the safe restart of air travel, when conditions allow, in a way that limits transmission of COVID-19 and protects travellers.”
- $82.5 million to Transport Canada to support major Canadian airports in making investments in COVID-19 testing infrastructure.
- $105.3 million to collaborate with international partners to advance the Known Traveller Digital Identity pilot project, which will test advanced technologies to facilitate touchless and secure air travel.
- $6.7 million to the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority to acquire and operate sanitization equipment.
In referring to specific support for the airline sector, the budget refers to regional service across Atlantic provinces:
“As the public health situation improves, the government expects to see the return of routes back to the Atlantic provinces. When the resumption of travel is safe, tourism in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador will be particularly important to those economies.”
With respect to travel restrictions and the reopening borders, the specifics of when and how are frog leaped and the budget neatly lands onto “when they are adjusted”:
“These measures would help restore Canadians’ confidence in the safety of air travel when public health restrictions and border measures are adjusted, and would support the recovery of Canada’s hard-hit air and tourism sectors, which so many Canadians rely on for their jobs and livelihoods.”
With expectations high for a plan to restart the travel industry, the federal budget is a disappointment. There are no timelines or specifics on the actual re-opening of travel, never mind the dollars to support it.
Our recovery hopes lie in accelerated vaccinations and pent up consumer demand driving business back to some level of normalcy, by all accounts, in the second quarter of 2022.