A group says new COVID-19 testing rules "hurt" tourism and the economy.
Canada may have announced that it would scrap PCR tests for travellers taking short trips of 72 hours or less, but according to Quebec business leaders, this isn't good enough to curb the toll that COVID-19 measures have taken on tourism.
The Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable, a coalition of representatives from those industries, along with other industry leaders in Quebec released a statement calling on the federal government to stop requiring fully vaccinated travellers to get PCR tests before re-entering Canada — regardless of how long they've been out of the country.
"The PCR test is a major barrier for middle-class families hoping to travel to Quebec," said Luzana Rada, chief executive officer at Global Tourisme. "As one of the largest travel agencies in Quebec, I have seen firsthand the rising number of cancellations as a result of the pre-departure PCR test. Families simply aren't travelling to Canada. The cost and inconvenience are too high."
The statement also says that the new 72-hour rule gives Canadians the ability to leave the country with fewer headaches, yet discourages foreign visitors from exploring all that Canada and Quebec have to offer.
"In fact, the new policy makes Canada's travel rules more confusing and as costly," said Deputy Director of Croisières AML Lucie Charland.
According to the group, one of the biggest issues the travel and tourism sector has faced is the lack of international visitors during historically "world-renowned events," such as the Carnaval de Quebec and Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament.
Quebec's economy has benefited from the tournament's prestige, the statement says, as it attracts participants from all over the world. It also helps to develop young players with 1,315 participants going on to get drafted onto NHL teams.
"From Guy Lafleur to Wayne Gretzky, Patrick Roy and Connor McDavid, several of hockey's greats have played in our tournament," said Patrick Dom, general manager of the tournament.
"Many international teams have canceled their participation as a direct result of the overly restrictive policies in Canada that do not align with the government's own expert recommendations."
Quebec's tourism industry supports 402,000 jobs and more than 30,159 businesses, the statement says.
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