Nearing mass vaccination means it’s time to talk travel: Victoria tourism industry

Nearing mass vaccination means it's time to talk travel: Victoria tourism industry
WatchThe Victoria tourism industry says it's time for the federal government to consider a safe re-opening of tourism, and clarity on how to do so.

Nowadays, with no international visitors, Pedaler Cycling Tours is more repairs and rentals.

“We may be able to survive one more year. But beyond that, without American guests, it could be very precarious for us and the rest of us in the industry,” said Rick Bell a tour guide with the South Island biking tour company.

And Tuesday, some certainty this tourist-reliant business needed.

“We’re now on track to have enough vaccine supply for every adult in America by the end of May,” announced U.S. President Joe Biden.

Our neighbours down south are looking at mass vaccination much sooner than anyone had anticipated and Tourism Victoria sees it as a game-changer.

“They’re our best customers because they spend more. They’re more free-spending, they experience more,” said Paul Nursey, CEO of Destination Greater Victoria.

Americans also make up 36 per cent of all the visitors who walk through Greater Victoria.

But land borders remain closed. And so far, no hints for change just yet.

“Decisions around the land border is under federal jurisdiction. And what I fully expect is the federal government will make decisions about when the land border opens, but I also expect they will do so in consultation with the provinces, as they have done so in the past,” said Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth.

But and as both Canada and the U.S. come months away from mass vaccinations, many in the tourism industry say, it’s time to make a plan.

“We should open our borders only when it’s safe to do so and when residents are comfortable with that happening. But what the industry does need is a roadmap. We have many reservations and inquiries from Americans who are fully vaccinated already that want to come,” said Nursey.

“Are they a health risk when they get here? We don’t think so.”

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Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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