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Monday,  May 20, 2024 9:51 PM 

Rant: A 3-day stay at "Club Fed?" Canada needs to get serious about the travel industry's future

Rant: A 3-day stay at "Club Fed?" Canada needs to get serious about the travel industry's future
Dave Heron, Founder & General Manager, Pace Setter Travel & Tours. (Supplied)
Dave Heron

And there we have it – Caribbean getaways for this winter are about as likely as winning the lottery.

With the stroke of the quill, Canadian government officials are putting into play a host of new restrictions, which included grounding airlines on January 31, suspending flights into Mexico and the Caribbean until at least April 30th.

In brief, you can no longer get there from here.

And while a few sun-starved folks will discover they can fly from say Calgary to Denver and connect Denver to Cancun for a week on the beach, it’s not without hurdles.

Currently, these include, but are not limited to:

  • A negative PCR test taken not more than 72 hours prior to boarding your Calgary to Denver flight – cost $175.
  • The “possibility” that the via Denver loophole “may” close without notice and passengers en route to Denver find themselves subject to a 10-14 quarantine at additional expense prior to bidding a fond farewell to the Mile High City.
  • A mandatory PCR test again 72 hours prior to boarding the return flight home – another $175
  • Another mandatory PCR test upon arrival at the Canadian arrival airport (cost TBA).
  • For two-three days after arrival while awaiting the results of the arrival PCR test – quarantine at a government-designated facility (mandatory). It's a three-day, all-inclusive Club Fed package pegged at around $2,000 per person (orange jump suits an optional, extra cost)
  • If test results come back negative, passengers can finish out their 14-day quarantine at home with instructions to get tested again on day 10. Of course, if “home” is a facility shared with a few other non-related folks, it's the full 14 days at the hotel. (Averaging roughly $700 per day).
  • On day 14, you’re released and free to enjoy the normal day-to-day lockdowns that may or may not be in play.

An alternative would be to stay home, spend $600 on a heat lamp, a sandbox, a case of Jamaican rum, and spend a week in the basement listening to a couple of old Bob Marley tapes.

I cannot legitimately make the argument that hoards of the great unwashed packing on to a silver bird to party Spring Break away on Mexican beaches is sensible in the midst of a pandemic.

That said, while going after the fly with a sledgehammer makes for what some would deem positive optics, this country needs to get serious with aggressively pursuing a direct attack against the core issues, namely:

  • Developing true rapid testing (a three-day wait for results is not, in my mind, all that rapid).
  • Sinking money back into vaccine production in Canada, by Canadians, for Canadians. Sadly, the once-renowned Connaught Labs out of Toronto after being caught up in the privatization frenzy of the Mulroney administration back in the ’80s simply moved production out of Canada to points offshore where private investors reaped the profits.
  • Escalating efforts in the field of Canadian-made therapeutics and PPE.

Because otherwise, we remain “hat in hand subservient” to offshore entities who clearly will ensure that their own interests and needs are met long before shelling out the leftovers to Canadians.

Which brings me back to the issue of the destruction of our Canadian airlines.

It’s estimated that for the period April 2020 through December 2020, Canadian airlines were burning through somewhere in the vicinity of 30-40 million dollars each and every day.

And that’s just the airlines themselves. Add to that the tens upon tens of thousands of indirect jobs in Canada that feed into the airline sector and you can pretty much double those numbers  

Clearly unsustainable.

And should the sector be allowed to fail – it’s a “here we go again” scenario whereby flying from Calgary to Toronto may very well hinge on the “goodwill” of a foreign airline who, in a benevolent moment, may opt to allow the use of their aircraft and flight crew to get us from here to there.

Connaught Labs was once a Canadian success story.

Let’s not make Cannot Airlines the future of aviation in this country.  

Dave Heron is Founder and General Manager of Pace Setter Travel & Tours Inc. based in Okotoks, Alberta. This article originally appeared as a blog post on  

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