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Toronto's tourism industry calling on federal government for detailed reopening plan

People leave after arriving at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on March 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Toronto’s tourism industry has taken one of the biggest hits during this pandemic and now a group is calling on Ottawa to release a detailed reopening plan.

At the Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, the CEO of Ontario’s tourism industry, Christopher Bloors, says the pandemic has been “catastrophic” for the industry, and now it’s time for the government to lay the ground work for the road back to recovery,

“After 16 months of sacrifice, job losses and lost revenues, operators need certainty, and when they can start to rehire Ontarians, buy equipment, stock, and that takes significant lead up time,” Bloors said.

Bloors said the tourism industry has lost 70 per cent of revenue and 100,000 jobs during the course of the pandemic.

The call on the government for a detailed plan includes reopening the borders to fully vaccinated travellers, “we need them to know that the U.S.-Canada border will be open in time for them to spend their vacations here.”

An industry spokesperson says American tourists spend more than domestic visitors

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Lindsay Broadhead, with the Toronto Region Board of Trade, said. “what needs to be done is to set clear conditions for safety resuming business travel that supports investment, talent attraction, and visits to world class places such as this,” Broadhead said.

Broadhead said the industry is ready to bounce back, but needs a detailed plan from the government immediately, so preparations can be made, “it’s time to unscare the public, shifting the conversation away from the perils of international visitors, to the safeguards being put in place to welcome them back. This isn’t about saying when we reopen, it’s about clarifying under what conditions we can and should reopen.”

They want the government to deliver the opening plan as soon as possible.