Sault Travel Club welcomes end of mandatory use of ArriveCAN

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Travel conditions are better for the Sunshine Club following the federal government’s decision to make the ArriveCAN app optional from October.

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The nonprofit travel group has been offering day trips and out-of-town tours, mostly by bus, for 59 years. Travel south of the border has long been a staple for Sault Ste. Marie-based group that generally attracts travelers aged 60 and over.

Excursion planning in 2023 has been influenced by the mandatory use of the app since the end of 2020 and a significant number of club travelers who do not have a smartphone to meet ArriveCAN requirements. As a result, almost all of the club’s destinations next year will not leave the country to “avoid getting people out of Canada and then having to come back to take care of them,” said the chairman of the board. group administration. Richard Craftchick called the app a “major hurdle” to traveling without “any workaround to get around it”.

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Planned trips will be revealed at the Sunshine Club’s Annual General Meeting Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Seniors Drop-In Center on Bay Street.

Craftchick is “very pleased” with the government’s decision disclosed late last week.

Now it opens up a whole new perspective of places we can visit,” he told the Sault Star. With the club typically planning trips in March or April for the following year, Craftchick expects the federal government’s decision won’t really affect the club’s travel plans until 2024.

This will have a major effect on our planning,” he said.

The club went on an 18-month break. A dinner and staging of Harvey by the Algoma Repertory Theater took place shortly before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The group’s only trip in 2021 was a day trip to Elliot Lake to enjoy the fall leaves. Nine trips, including two days of activities, are organized this year. About 15 are planned for 2023. Next year’s list will include at least three trips to the United States.

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The pandemic has erased the strong momentum the club enjoyed, with records set in 2018 and 2019 for most travellers. In the last year before the pandemic began, 841 people signed up for trips. The group’s results have taken a hit with the return to road travel this year, generating much-needed revenue.

If we weren’t able to make a few road trips (in 2022), I’m not entirely sure we could sustain another year of shutdown and meet our obligations to our suppliers,” Craftchick said. . “You cannot continue to operate with reserve funds. It only lasts so long.

Plans that began in 2019 to mark the club’s 60th anniversarye anniversary in 2023 are reduced due to financial difficulties. A dinner, with entertainment, is planned for the spring.

An early October trip to Kingston is sold out. There are “very limited” places left for a December trip to Niagara Falls. Seats are available for a fall trip to Elliot Lake on October 5, a shopping spree in Barrie in early November, and a Christmas dinner and production of Elf from the West End Theater Project on November 30.

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The pandemic has sent the Sunshine Club down bumpy roads as travel planning efforts are hampered by difficulties reaching venues with staff working from home and businesses hampered by limited staff to serve travelers.

It’s not like before you pick up a phone and knock, someone answers and they’re there,” Craftchick said. “It was a long journey. It wasn’t easy, I tell you.

The club usually distributes a brochure detailing the itineraries of the trips, but this travel guide will not be published this year due to cost. Instead, travelers can be added to an email distribution list that currently exceeds 700 addresses. A telephone committee continues to call everyone who does not have access to a computer, but the number of people called is decreasing. Registration day for trips is Nov. 23 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at 619 Bay St. Passengers must present proof of at least two COVID-19 vaccinations.

[email protected]

On Twitter: @Saultreporter

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