Key Takeaways Snapshot
Globally and across Canada, new COVID-19 cases continue to rise. All regions report an increase in the number of cases, and all regions, except for Africa, report an increase in the number of deaths. Europe and the Americas continue to account for nearly 80% of all the cases and deaths. Vaccines are a critical new tool in the battle against COVID-19 and it is hugely encouraging to see so many vaccines proving successful and going into development. Working as quickly as they can, scientists from across the world are collaborating and innovating to bring tests, treatments and vaccines that will collectively save lives and end this pandemic. However, new viral variants, limited vaccine supply, and underinvestment in tools and therapies have resulted in the need to refresh the global strategy to chart the roadmap out of the pandemic.
Before the pandemic, tourism accounted for one out of every 10 jobs around the world and in many places, travel plays an even greater role in the local economy. As lockdowns fell into place worldwide, international arrivals have plunged, with the economic impact of travel-related declines reaching stunning levels. In Canada, the one-year anniversary of the shutdown of the Canada-U.S. border has arrived — with unprecedented impact on lives, businesses, and communities. As the effects could be long-lasting, it is now expected that travel will not return to pre-pandemic levels until 2024.
Vaccines and Travel
As domestic vaccination rates trend upward, more people are traveling or planning to travel. Broadly speaking, proof of vaccination in order to travel is not required, but it may be in the future depending on where one is travelling. As a means to reboot the decimated tourism industry, countries and industries are considering various vaccine health passes as prerequisites of entry and travel. However, the World Health Organization has come out against the idea of a COVID-19 vaccine certificates as vaccines are not available on an equitable basis.
Tourism is the heartbeat of Canada
Redirecting foreign spend power towards domestic and getting locals to grasp the importance of supporting local tourism businesses will be critical this year, particularly as 99% of businesses in Canada’s tourism sector consist of small and medium enterprises. By keeping their tourism dollars in Canada, Canadians play a critical role in bolstering the tourism economy, creating jobs and supporting local businesses.
Remote work visas: the future of work and travel
The remote work environment has advanced extremely fast due to the state of the world pandemic. Millions of workers now have the flexibility to work from anywhere they desire. With a huge portion of people working from home already, remote work is the present, and flexible working is the actual future of work and travel. Emerging remote work visa programs have the potential to create a much more sustainable form of tourism and could potentially transform how the world works and travels.
Canadian Resident Sentiment Toward Tourism
With 80% of Canadians planning to travel when restrictions are relaxed, and data showing increasing interest in international travel search dates, the majority of Canadians are eager to get back out and explore when it is safe to do so.
While there is public support for travel restrictions, frustrations with the loss of freedom, feelings that quality of life is suffering, business interruptions and the mental stress associated with missing important human moments are mounting. The health, economic and social consequences of closed borders and quarantines are taking their toll, driving people to become more comfortable with managing the risks of COVID-19.
Airlines, a leading performance indicator for the overall tourism sector, have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. With their fleets grounded and operating on severely constrained conditions, both domestic and international carriers have been devastated. Despite a rise in confidence in air travel as a result of testing and vaccination, the global aviation industry is estimated to lose more than $94 billion by the end of 2021, signaling a deeply uncertain future.
Accommodation & Events
Global and domestic business travel are unlikely to recover before 2024 with virtual meetings continuing to replace the majority of business travel. As over the past year, this will continue to severely impact the accommodation and events sector, contributing to more job losses in the tourism sector that will take years to rebuild.
The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent pause in commercial cruise operations has had devastating impacts on the cruise community. With strict protocols in place, and with the approval and support of local and regional authorities, cruise ships are gradually resuming operations around the world. However, even as the promise of vaccines roll out, the future of the industry remains uncertain.
Major Tour Operators
With COVID-19 continuing to influence travel restrictions around the world, tour operators have been forced to re-evaluate their plans for the coming months with many suspending operations and updating their travel policies to accommodate impacted clients. The majority of domestic and international operations have been postponed until the end of April at a minimum, causing deeper economic loss within the industry.