Montréal, July 14, 2021 - Together with the Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable (The Roundtable), industry leaders from Montréal are calling on the federal government to re-open Canada to fully vaccinated international travellers. With the second consecutive summer travel season now officially in jeopardy, time is ticking for Montréal businesses.
In a normal year, Montréal welcomes more than 11 million visitors, generating nearly $5 billion in revenue for the city. As a result of the pandemic, the number of international visitors to Montréal in 2020 decreased by 94 per cent year over year, and the city experienced its lowest hotel occupancy rate ever of around 15 per cent.
Local Montréal businesses rely heavily on international tourism. In the summer of 2019, over 4 million international tourists arrived at the Montréal Trudeau Airport. Prior to the start of the pandemic, international tourism to Montréal was growing at a rate of 10% annually. Though we applaud the recent easing of certain restrictions for Canadians travelling internationally, fully vaccinated foreign travellers are still unable to visit Canada, and this is leaving a devastating impact on local business.
Canadians have been rushing in droves to get vaccinated – breaking records nearly every day. Montréalers have been doing their part too; over 70% of the city's residents have received a first dose of the vaccine. The federal government should be rewarding this effort with clear guidance on what re-opening looks like.
As Canada gears up for a likely fall election, the Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable requests that the federal government follow the advice of its Expert Advisory Panel on Testing and Screening and re-open Canada to fully vaccinated international travellers before everything pauses in advance of a federal election. The restrictions for international travellers expire on July 21st. However, government has extended these restrictions several times since their implementation. We are calling on the federal government not to prolong these restrictions any longer and to re-open borders to international travelers.
Yves Lalumiere, President and CEO of Tourisme Montréal
"Montréal businesses have been waiting to welcome international tourists with open arms. Removing the quarantine requirements for Canadians without allowing fully vaccinated international travellers into Canada has essentially created a one-way travel corridor that disadvantages local tourism and Montréal's local businesses," stated Yves Lalumiere, President and CEO of Tourisme Montréal.
Philippe Rainville, CEO of Aéroports de Montréal
"While YUL Montreal-Trudeau International Airport is experiencing a slight pick-up in activity, we won't be able to talk about a recovery as long as the country's international borders remain closed. We would like to see the federal government develop a plan to allow people from other origins who are fully vaccinated and want to travel to Canada to do so safely. Other countries, particularly in Europe, have put in place effective measures to help their tourism industries get back on track this summer. The opening of the borders should also be accompanied by updated screening measures for fully vaccinated passengers, which are currently increasing delays in passenger processing and posing significant challenges to the flow of international arrivals at our airport," said Philippe Rainville, President and CEO of Aéroports de Montréal.
Christophe Hennebelle, Vice President Human Resources and Corporate Affairs, Transat
"For the past 16 months our airline has effectively been on pause. To fully sustain our restart, Transat needs Canada to open its doors to fully vaccinated international travellers. Our airline serves over 60 destinations across 25 countries. We cannot sustain our airline on Canadian travellers alone," stated Christophe Hennebelle, Vice President Human Resources and Corporate Affairs, Transat.
Michel Leblanc, President and CEO, Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montréal
"Now that over half of Canadians are fully vaccinated, it's time to help restore the vitality of Montréal's tourism industry. Business tourism in particular, including events and conferences that are planned years in advance, are suffering from a lack of clarity about when restrictions around international travellers will be lifted. This uncertainty is even more harmful since most other countries with which we compete have already re-opened their borders to fully vaccinated tourists. We are formally asking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to immediately present a clear plan to re-open the borders to fully vaccinated international travellers," said Michel Leblanc, President and CEO, Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montréal.
About the Canadian Tourism Roundtable
The Canadian Tourism Roundtable is a cross-Canadian coalition of leaders in the tourism and travel sector – including representatives from airports, airlines, hotels, and chambers of commerce across the country – committed to working together to restart the sector smoothly and safely. Travel and Tourism is a $102 billion sector, employing millions of Canadians across the country and accounting for 2.1% of the country's gross domestic product. It advocates for a safe and prosperous tourism and travel sector across Canada.
Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable
For further information:
 Canadian Press, 2020