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.