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Summer of 2020 will be make or break year for B.C.'s hotels

Last Updated Jun 23, 2020 at 4:55 am PST

File photo of a hotel room (iStock Photo)
Summary

BC Hotel Association says smaller hotels will be on the brink of financial failure if they don't have good summers

Bigger hotels that cater to conventions are also struggling

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Phase 3 can’t come soon enough for B.C.’s hotel sector. The next chapter of B.C’s reopening plan, expected to be rolled out this week, will come with lifted restrictions on travel within the province.

It has not been an easy spring for hotel operators. While they were never required to close, revenues have essentially dried up, and they are still on the hook for fixed costs, like property taxes.

“We are faced with a critical time,” says Ingrid Jarrett is the CEO of the BC Hotel Association.

“From a heartbreaking perspective, the majority of the hotels in the province which are small and medium-sized, independently-owned and operated businesses, are on the brink of not surviving if we don’t save this summer. If we don’t save this summer, we are definitely going to see hotels not make it.”

Location may be key to which hotels are still standing financially after the summer, she says.

“There will be some communities that will recover much more quickly than others. I can say the phones are ringing. Some of the more popular summer destinations for example will recover quicker than the bigger destinations.”

Those bigger destinations include hotels that cater to big events.

“And that really is the convention market,” Jarrett points out, although she says they are seeing many meetings being booked, within the limits of 50 people.

She says for the hotels that chose to close, it’s a busy time, rehiring staff, adopting new cleaning protocols, going over safety plans. Visitors will notice some changes. Hand sanitizers will be visible, and new barriers are being erected. Check-in and check-out times will be adjusted to allow for more cleaning between guests.

“Physical distancing will be a priority even on pool decks, but certainly in lobbies. Maybe one door will be assigned for entering and another for exiting. The work with WorkSafe BC has been incredibly helpful.”

She’s hoping British Columbians realize that hitting the road this summer will be good not just for their well-being, but also vital to keeping the tourism industry alive.

“Getting out to travel, staying in hotels and supporting your hotel owners is something we’d like to see everybody do.”