It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on the tourism industry. However, now that the pandemic is winding down, countries and travel-related businesses throughout the world are taking various steps in an attempt to attract visitors once again.
For example, due to the country’s proximity, Canada used to benefit substantially from a regular influx of American tourists. That trend has slowed as a result of the pandemic.
In response, Destination Canada, the country’s major tourism agency, has announced a plan that would theoretically entice Americans to begin visiting the country in greater numbers once again.
Specifically, the plan would allow up to 20,000 Americans who currently have frequent flyer status with various major U.S. airlines to transfer that status to Air Canada. This would allow them to visit the country much more easily and affordably than they otherwise could.
Some of the U.S. airlines mentioned in this announcement have not yet made statements regarding whether they will participate in the program, or to what degree they will participate if they choose to do so.
However, Southwest Airlines (which does not actually fly directly to Canada, but can facilitate transfers to airlines that do) has released a statement via email to Reuters stating that this effort represents an example of the way a government can step in to help revitalize an industry that took a major hit as a result of the pandemic.
It’s worth noting that frequent flyer status matching is not a new trend between airlines. What makes this effort unique is that, according to Destination Canada, it’s the first instance of a major government tourism organization or agency leveraging status-matching as a means to attract tourists. If the experiment proves successful, it’s possible that tourism agencies in other countries that have struggled to attract tourists as a result of the pandemic may try similar experiments.
Of course, air travel is by no means the only method of traveling from one country to another in many cases. This is particularly true in regard to travel from America to Canada. For example, many Americans choose to drive to Canada instead of taking planes.
Because the countries are so close, some Americans even choose to move to Canada permanently. Even if they don’t move to Canada, they may decide to live there for an extended period of time. Some do so for work reasons, others do so because they simply want to experience a slightly different lifestyle than that which they are accustomed to before returning to the country they have spent most of their lives in. They rely on services such as car shipping to transport their most valuable items to their new temporary homes easily and efficiently.
This may be another type of “tourist” Canada’s government and tourism agencies could focus on bringing back to the country. While the option to transfer frequent flyer status from a major U.S. airline to Air Canada might certainly attract temporary visitors, Canada’s government might also consider ways it can attract Americans who have chosen to live in Canada indefinitely. That may be the next stage in the country’s plans for regrowing its tourism industry.