Susie Grynol, president of the Hotel Association of Canada, speaks at a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on April 30, 2018. The tourism industry was generally pleased this week about news that Ottawa would offer relief for the struggling sector, with the exception of Canada’s major airlines, which are still waiting for more targeted aid. “The industry was at a breaking point, and there were some very important measures in the Fall Economic Statement yesterday that will provide a deeper level of support for this industry,” said Susie Grynol, president and CEO of the Hotel Association of Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Susie Grynol, president of the Hotel Association of Canada, speaks at a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on April 30, 2018. The tourism industry was generally pleased this week about news that Ottawa would offer relief for the struggling sector, with the exception of Canada’s major airlines, which are still waiting for more targeted aid. “The industry was at a breaking point, and there were some very important measures in the Fall Economic Statement yesterday that will provide a deeper level of support for this industry,” said Susie Grynol, president and CEO of the Hotel Association of Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Tourism industry has mixed reaction to government aid measures

The government’s plan included specific measures for airports, such as rent relief

Ottawa’s plan to provide aid for the struggling tourism sector was greeted with relief Tuesday, while Canada’s airlines awaited word on support for their industry.

The Liberal government on Monday announced the rollout of a new program, called the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program, that would provide low-interest loans to struggling businesses in the tourism, hotel and other sectors. The government also announced that the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy would return to its original rate of 75 per cent.

“The [hotel] industry was at a breaking point, and there were some very important measures in the Fall Economic Statement yesterday that will provide a deeper level of support for this industry,” said Susie Grynol, president and CEO of the Hotel Association of Canada.

“These programs, assuming they can get rolled out quick enough, will clot some of that bleeding.”

Grynol said Ottawa’s measures show that the government had listened to the industry, which is among the hardest-hit by the pandemic’s economic toll. Still, she cautioned that the sector will need more targeted aid down the line, particularly after March, when Ottawa’s increase to the wage subsidy expires.

Daniel-Robert Gooch, president of the Canadian Airports Council, called the government’s announcement a good first step but said it doesn’t go far enough in addressing airports’ financial situation. Canada’s airports, which rely on fees from airlines and revenue from passenger expenditures inside the terminals, have had to cut expenses and lay off staff as the pandemic drastically reduces traffic.

The government’s plan included specific measures for airports, such as rent relief and increased funding for security and capital expenditures like runways. Still, the rent relief measures are limited in scope and some of the industry’s key asks are still missing from the government’s recovery plan, Gooch said.

“What we do still want to see is what the federal government’s plans are on [COVID] testing at airports,” Gooch said, adding that having a testing program in place will be critical for the industry if it is to take advantage of an anticipated recovery in demand for travel next summer.

Ottawa said it would support regional travel with $206 million through a new initiative overseen by regional development agencies, but was vague about the details of the plan. Absent from the government’s announcement was any help for Canada’s major airlines, which are still struggling amid lack of demand for travel.

On Monday, the National Airlines Council of Canada, an industry group that represents the largest airlines, called on the federal government to move quickly in developing a targeted aid package for the companies and to roll out measures like rapid COVID testing at airports that would increase demand for travel.

READ MORE: Ottawa beefs up loans for hard-hit sectors — but big airlines not included for now

“While other countries around the world moved forward months ago to provide sectoral support for airlines, Canada remains a global outlier and is ostensibly stuck at stage zero on the government planning process,” the group said in a statement.

In an interview, Mike McNany, the president and chief executive of the NACC, said he was unsure what was behind the government’s delay, adding that the industry was clear in its communications with Ottawa about what forms of aid it needed.

The government hasn’t offered the industry any timeline for distributing aid, he said.

A spokeswoman for the federal minister of transport said last week that progress on targeted aid for airlines was ongoing and that it was a top priority.

Jon Victor, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusTourism

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health update. File photo.
86 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

The new deaths are from Heritage Square, a long-term care facility in Vernon

Kimberley Alpine Resort's main chairlift will be down for at least a few more days, as the required part missed its connecting flight.
Kimberley Alpine Resort’s chairlift repair delayed

Part needed for repair missed connecting flight in Amsterdam

Kimberley has only two exits in the case of an emergency evacuation. Google Earth.
Kimberley Fire Department to work on upgrading evacuation route planning

City supports RDEK in applying for regional grant

A woman wearing a protective face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 walks past a mural in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
115 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths in Interior Health

There are now a total of 4,970 cases in the region

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

A COVID-19 outbreak at Vernon's Heritage Square long-term care home has claimed seven people. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Two more COVID-19 deaths at Vernon care home

Heritage Square has now lost seven people due to the outbreak

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government reinforces importance of anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Most Read