- The pandemic struck nearly two years ago, and Canadians’ fear of travel has been a recurring theme since then.
- Tuning in to daily COVID-19 briefings is likely to have contributed to this increased fear.
- The federal government issued a travel warning in March 2020, which was only lifted on October 22, 2021.
Even as recently as May 2021, Ontario Premier Doug Ford blamed travel and borders for increasing cases, despite evidence pointing to other causes such as a lack of proper PPE, community spread, overcrowded housing, and poverty. The “problem frame” here is whereby specific messages spread during the pandemic have contributed to the continuity of fear of travel over time.
As travel and tourism researchers, we were curious about the impact of COVID-19 briefings and how the media reported on them in the industry. We believe it is time to put fear in its proper context for the traveler.
Blame and shame discourses
An examination of Canadian online news, published as part of the Travelling Towards Tomorrow Together: Travel and Tourism Research Association Canada conference, revealed how the media had perpetuated fear of travel through narratives that emphasize safety.
Managing travel media messages and risk
Travel risk is viewed subjectively by Canadians, who reduce risk by remaining cautious and choosing not to travel. According to a Destination Canada resident sentiment study, feelings of safety have decreased or remained unchanged in five Canadian provinces in recent months.
But, now that the large majority of Canadians have been immunized and many tourism businesses and destinations have put in place strict safety protocols for visitors, those feelings of safety should be changing. It is past time for Canadians to reduce travel risks through the implementation of objective risk management strategies.
Source: OHS Canada
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