Aviation sector concerned about new fee, but sees eTA as opportunity to
improve travel options for some.
OTTAWA, Dec. 19, 2013 /CNW/ - The Canadian Airports Council submitted
comments today urging the federal government to take a "light touch"
approach to its new electronic travel authorization (eTA) requirement.
Under the proposed rules, all foreign nationals travelling from visa
exempt countries, other than citizens of the United States, would be
required to obtain an eTA prior to travelling to Canada. However, the
Canadian Airports Council also recognizes the eTA as an opportunity for
the government to improve Canada's overall visitor entry system.
"Canada's airports appreciate the security role that the eTA can
provide. Nevertheless, we want to ensure that the eTA not add an undue
burden and cost for visitors to Canada," said CAC President
Daniel-Robert Gooch. "On the upside, we hope to see eTA considered as
an alternative to a full-fledged visa for some lower risk countries."
Countries affected by the proposed eTA requirement represent the biggest
source of foreign tourists and markets for Canadian exports. The top
ten of these countries delivered 2.6 million visitors to Canada in
2012, representing approximately 56% of all non-U.S. international
visitors. Considering each long-haul visitor spends an average of
$1,600 a trip, this adds up to about $4 billion in spending.
In its submission to the government, the Canadian Airports Council
highlighted three areas of consideration:
That eTA not act as a deterrent for travel
It is essential that the eTA be low cost and not serve as a deterrent to
travel. The various fees and taxes the federal government imposes on
aviation already position Canada poorly when it comes to cost
competitiveness. Adding to this burden should not be taken without
considerable regard to the impact government fees already are having on
Eligibility for transiting passengers
It would further complicate the visa process and place Canada at a
competitive disadvantage if travellers were required to get both a U.S.
Electronic System Travel Authorization (ESTA) and an eTA to transit
through a Canadian hub on their way to the United States. As such, the
ESTA should be honoured for all transiting passengers to the U.S.,
including those originating from visa exempt countries as well as those
transiting through Canada under transit without visa programs.
Applicability as an alternative screening tool
While visas have a valid security role in screening potential visitors
to Canada from countries for which there has been an identified need,
the eTA should serve as an alternative to the requirement for a full
visa in some cases. Consideration of the eTA as an alternative to a
full scale visa should be fast tracked for visitors from lower risk
Countries whose residents currently require a visa are among Canada's
fastest growing trading partners and sources for tourists. Brazil,
China, India and Mexico alone brought nearly 700,000 visitors to Canada
in 2012. The potential to expand tourism from these growing economies
is significant and use of an eTA instead of a visa, when appropriate,
could greatly help Canada grow this business.
"A more nimble system for the entry of foreign nationals to Canada will
help facilitate international trade and the long-term prosperity of
Canada's tourism sector," said Mr. Gooch. "International direct and
connecting traffic are important and growing businesses for Canada's
aviation sector. More foreign travellers flying to and through Canada
means new routes, and more capacity and greater competition on existing
About the Canadian Airports Council
The Canadian Airports Council (CAC), a division of Airports Council
International-North America, is the voice for Canada's airports
community. Its 46 members represent more than 120 airports, including
all of the privately operated National Airports System (NAS) airports
and many municipal airports across Canada. Together, CAC members handle
virtually all of the nation's air cargo and international passenger
traffic, and 95% of domestic passenger traffic. In 2012, Canada's air
transportation industry had a $34.9 billion economic footprint,
supported 405,000 jobs, and federal taxes of more than $7 billion.
SOURCE: Canadian Airports Council