This is national tourism week in Canada. "The tourism sector is one of the strongest sectors in Peterborough & the Kawarthas and until Covid-19 the sector was thriving," says Tracie Bertrand, Director of Tourism, Peterborough & the Kawarthas Tourism. " We enjoy the benefits of having a mid-sized city, while also being a sought after rural destination in Ontario. While all businesses have been experiencing unprecedented challenges, we know that seasonal businesses rely heavily on the visitor economy from May to October to provide revenue and are uniquely affected during this pandemic due to the timing. Peterborough & the Kawarthas welcomes approximately 3 million visitors each year who spend over $300 million in our communities. The visitor economy is critical to the health of our local economy."
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on tourism activities and Ontario will continue to be under emergency orders until at least June 9, 2020.
We are learning and accepting new guidelines for retail, construction, agriculture, and the tourism sector is also developing guidelines, some of which can be found on our website peterboroughchamber.ca/business-resources-for-recovery.html
Recently, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) held a webinar with the Travel Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO), the Anishnawbe Business Professional Association and Great Wolf Lodge. Each group talked about the challenges faced including the short Canadian season for summer tourism, labour shortages now and in the future, and concern about how these businesses fit into the current slate of government programs.
But beyond the challenges there is still a great desire to work together with government to ensure the recovery of the sector, just as happened after 9/11 and SARS.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce recently partnered with 11 other tourism and business associations to issue five suggestions to the federal government:
The letter goes on to say:
“The highly restrictive measures in place today are not sustainable. Like the government, we want to avoid a second wave of the virus and are certain reasonable measures can be taken to help mitigate risk. It is possible to achieve these same goals with targeted, carefully considered measures.
Canadians are justifiably contemplating travel this summer but remain uncertain about the end-to-end travel experience, with confusion about border restrictions, travel advisories, quarantine rules as well as rules at airports, hotels, and on airplanes. Some clarity and consistency in this regard will be key to any hope that the summer tourism season can be salvaged.”
The notion of confusion and lack of clarity was echoed in the OCC webinar as there are still a lot of unknowns.
As parks and historic sites such as the Trent Severn Waterway (June1, 2020) continue to open, albeit with limited access and strict guidelines, the need for clarity will only continue to grow.
We encourage the government to consider the suggestions and work with the tourism industry to
ensure its continued viability.
As businesses slowly start to re-open, there is a lot of thought being given to doing so safely. We are hearing and seeing from many local businesses how they have made adjustments to their physical spaces including signage and asking customers to schedule appointments.
Employees are being trained on procedures and how to help clients in an environment very different from what was just a few months ago.
This focus on health and economy is crucial. The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) recently released the results of a public survey with Campaign Research Inc., Market Research Firm.
“The survey results indicate that employers, employees and consumers need the right tools in place to feel safe and supported as we reopen the economy,” said Rocco Rossi, President and CEO, Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “88% of Ontarians are worried about the economy, with 50% being very worried. Meanwhile, 75% of people in Ontario 18 years of age or older are concerned about contracting COVID-19. This supports what we have been saying all along – the economy and the health of Ontarians are interdependent, and both must be addressed together.”
Meanwhile, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) is researching and identifying policy areas that must be considered to ensuring “a sharp and lasting recovery”. These include:
Getting Canadians Back to Work
Canada’s workforce will not be the same. In the span of one month, we went from one of the tightest job markets in history to over one million job losses. Unemployment may not return to pre-crisis levels at any point soon. Ensuring all Canadians have opportunities to participate in the recovery will be essential for inclusive growth and widespread job creation.
program. How do you balance personal benefit programs with those available to businesses to ensure continuity? Will eligibility for programs be adjusted in the future to recognize the re-opening efforts? For example, some sectors such as live performances and tourism-related businesses will be later in returning than others such as retail.
Planning for Small and Medium Business Continuity
Emergencies, like pandemics, natural disasters and cyber attacks, pose unique challenges for small- and medium-sized businesses. Most will not recover at the same pace as larger businesses and many will not survive the crisis. SMEs will need substantial tools and resources to help them maintain operations and adapt to a different economy. They will also require help to prepare to weather the next crisis, including advice on legal/human resource issues, cash management, maintaining operations, cybersecurity
and adopting business models with less physical presence (e.g., remote working and e-commerce).
Manage debt and deficit
Canada will enter recovery with substantial new public and private debt. Federal and provincial governments used ample fiscal stimulus in an unprecedented health crisis, and further support may be necessary to avoid a prolonged economic downturn. Personal and private sector debt is also going to expand as households struggle to make payments and firms borrow to preserve their operations. Canada will have to walk a fiscal tightrope between reducing debt and deficits and maintaining a competitive tax system that encourages business investment and economic growth.
Transparency around repaying debt
Once the economy is in full recovery mode, governments should be encouraged to develop repayment plans as to how they will reduce debt and deficits built up during the crisis. Transparency around these plans for
residents and businesses will help people prepare for this eventuality.
There is a lot to think about and a lot of change to absorb and apply to everyday situations.
Businesses are opening and we encourage consumers to follow the guidelines set out by the businesses with regard to physical distancing, sanitary procedures and safety measures. We ask that you are patient and work together to support our local businesses.
The COVID-19 pandemic curve is starting to flatten and Canada needs a plan to restart the economy.
The shutdowns to protect public health showed the complexity of the supply chains that keep our economy going. The gradual re-starting of our economy is equally complex and will require lead-in time for businesses to prepare. This includes understanding what public health rules will be in place and what
businesses can expect.
Getting the re-opening right will ultimately lay the ground for a sustainable recovery. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has developed five key areas that need to be part of the country’s strategy to re-open the economy quickly and safely:
Providing Advice to Government
The crisis has shown the best policy is made when it widely draws upon the advice of civil society, including businesses both large and small across sectors. The conversations need to start now in a structured manner to ensure that governments at all levels are receiving the best possible advice to minimize
International Best Practices
Industrialized economies around the world are beginning the domestic processes to restart their economy. We should use this opportunity to learn from what is working and what is not working in other
Both in good times, and through the pandemic, we have seen the perils of misalignment between provinces and territories. Companies that operate across provincial and territorial boundaries need to have clarity and
consistency to minimize confusion and ensure as seamless a reboot as possible. Companies also need to have clarity on public health rules as well as access to PPEs to meet those public health guidelines.
Government Financial Assistance
Temporary financial support programs have been crucial to help some companies stay afloat through the pandemic. However, there is also a need to ensure sustainable public finances. What are the conditions that should guide how the already announced financial support programs are successfully concluded?
As a country dependent on the movement of goods and services to support the economy, it is crucial for Canada to stay plugged into the global economy. Border closures rolled out in response to COVID-19 have been justified to protect public health, but will be gradually rolled back.
Companies will need certainty and lead-in time to fully re-engage with the global economy as these measures are lifted.
We need to continue hearing from the business community
What issues will impact your company or sector as Canada begins to re-open?
What kind of public health guidance will you require from governments?
The high level of collaboration among governments, businesses and civil society managing this pandemic should give Canadians confidence about our collective ability to deal with the long-lasting changes it will bring.