Ottawa Business Leaders Urge Federal Government to Share a Comprehensive Re-opening Plan Before Calling the Next Election
Ottawa industry leaders call on federal government to release comprehensive re-opening plan to save local businesses.
OTTAWA, July 8, 2021 – Together with the Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable (The Roundtable), industry leaders from Ottawa are calling on the federal government to announce a re-opening plan for Canadians before calling an election. With the second consecutive summer travel season now officially in jeopardy, time is ticking for Ottawa businesses.
In a normal year, Ottawa’s tourism sector generates $2.2 billion in revenue; last year $1.4 billion was lost to COVID-19. The summer travel season is disproportionately important to local Ottawa businesses.
With vaccination rates where they are today, businesses have suffered unnecessarily; in large part resulting from the federal government’s failure to produce a comprehensive and science-based re-opening plan.
Canadians have been rushing in droves to get vaccinated – breaking records nearly every day. In Ottawa alone, nearly 50 per cent of Ottawa adults are now fully vaccinated and almost 70 per cent have received one dose of the vaccine, making Ottawa one of the most vaccinated cities in the world. The federal government should be rewarding this effort with clear guidance on what re-opening looks like. Fully vaccinated foreign travellers are still unable to visit Canada and this leaves a devastating impact on local business.
As Canada gears up for a likely fall election, the Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable requests that the federal government hold off on sending Canadians to the polls until a comprehensive re-opening plan is established and implemented. We can’t play politics with the livelihoods of Canadians and Canadian business.
Perrin Beatty, President and CEO, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce:
“Canada is known for having some of the most amazing tourist attractions in the world. Every year millions of foreign nationals visit cities across the country to experience first-hand what Canada has to offer. This year, for the second year in a row, local businesses that rely on national and internationals visitors are still struggling,” said Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. “We all know that an election means a pause on all government activity. Canadians and Canadian businesses deserve to know what re-opening looks like long before a federal election is called.”
Sueling Ching, President and CEO, Ottawa Board of Trade:
“At this stage in the pandemic, we expect our federal government to have a clear plan in place. Countless businesses in Ottawa have either already permanently closed or are on the brink of bankruptcy,” said Sueling Ching, President and CEO, Ottawa Board of Trade. “Our business community needs a predictable, clear and science-based plan in place to build back our economy. Tourism in the Ottawa area is a key driver of the local economy which normally draws millions of visitors each year. With vaccines and COVID-19 rapid antigen testing kits rolling out in Ottawa, businesses expected that tourism would return here. Instead we are left waiting for a plan.”
Susie Grynol, President and CEO, Hotel Association of Canada:
“Eighty percent of Canadian tourism revenue comes in over twenty per cent of the time. July through Labour Day is disproportionately important to sustain our sector. The large number of visitors in Canada's summer months is able to sustain hospitality and tourism operators through the slower winter travel season. Cutting that period short, even a little bit will significantly impact their likelihood of survival,” said Susie Grynol, President and CEO of the Hotel Association of Canada.
Jamie Kwong, Executive Director, Ottawa Music Industry Coalition:
“The pandemic has devastated Ottawa’s music sector and shown how crucial the arts are to Ottawa’s business community. Our members rely on the influx of foreign tourists every year, particularly in the summer months, for their livelihoods,” said Jamie Kwong, Executive Director, Ottawa Music Industry Coalition. “By bringing together artists, local businesses, venues, and festivals together, our Coalition makes meaningful contributions to the local economy and cultural fabric of this country. We are calling on the federal government to put a plan in place to prevent further negative economic and cultural impacts.”
Joe Kowalski, Founder of Wilderness Tours, Ottawa River:
“After operating for over 40 years, Wilderness Tours has become a major attraction and adventure destination for Canadians and foreign tourists alike. Like all businesses across the country, we have done our part this year to put in place strong COVID-19 protocols to protect our staff and guests, despite challenging circumstances,” said Joe Kowalski, Founder of Wilderness Tours, Ottawa River. “With vaccination rates rising every day, we believe the government should have a clear re-opening plan in place to ensure we don’t lose yet another summer of tourism.”
Ross Meredith, General Manager, The Westin Ottawa:
“Usually at this time of year The Westin Ottawa is buzzing with people from all over the world. This year, it’s eerily quiet. Ottawa is a world-class city, we are home to many of the best festivals, concerts, and sporting events that the country has to offer. However this year everything’s cancelled,” said Ross Meredith, General Manager, The Westin Ottawa. “Our ballrooms are empty, and restaurants are quiet – no weddings, no conferences, no meetings. As a result, our hotel is struggling. We need a plan to start getting back to normal, we can’t afford to wait.”
About the Canadian Tourism Roundtable:
The Canadian Tourism Roundtable is a cross-Canadian coalition of leaders in the tourism and travel sector – including representatives from airports, airlines, hotels, and chambers of commerce across the country – committed to working together to restart the sector smoothly and safely. Travel and Tourism is a $102 billion sector, employing millions of Canadians across the country and accounting for 2.1% of the country’s gross domestic product. It advocates for a safe and prosperous tourism and travel sector across Canada.
Updated list of speakers:
- Perrin Beatty, CEO & President of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce
- Susie Grynol, CEO & President of the Hotel Association of Canada
- Sueling Ching, CEO & President of the Ottawa Board of Trade
- Joe Kowalski, Founder of Wilderness Tours, Ottawa River
- Ross Meredith, General Manager, The Westin Ottawa
- Jamie Kwong, Executive Director, Ottawa Music Industry Coalition
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