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Federal travel restrictions pose further risk to B.C. tourism revenues

Last Updated Jan 29, 2021 at 1:17 pm PST

Downtown Vancouver as seen from the News1130 Air Patrol on Dec 23, 2020 (Riley Phillips, NEWS 1130 photo)

B.C.'s tourism sector still has to assess how federal travel restrictions will impact dwindling revenue

Tourism Vancouver CEO says government relief has helped some businesses, but others are barely hanging on

B.C.'s tourism industry was valued at $21 billion before the pandemic, but is now pulling revenues at around $10 billion

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – New travel restrictions in Canada are another hit to revenue streams for B.C.’s tourism sector, according to the industry, while it looks to provincial and federal governments for more help.

Tourism Vancouver CEO Royce Chwin says some businesses have seen relief from government funding, but others continue to “fall through the cracks.”

“It’s still not good at all,” he tells NEWS 1130. “The reality is, tourism relies on the movement of people and as long as the movement of people is restricted, the level of business we can do is not going to be sustainable in the long-term.”

B.C.’s tourism industry was valued at $21 billion before the pandemic but is now pulling revenues at around $10 billion, he says.

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While Chwin says it’s too soon to know the impact the recent round of measures will have, he says Vancouver tourism relies heavily on international visitors, especially people travelling from the U.S.

“This is a continuation and shutdown of this business,” he says, “If anything, it’s about trying to salvage any part of summer.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced further travel restrictions Friday, including suspending service to some sun destinations temporarily.

All travellers to Canada will have to take a COVID-19 PCR test upon arrival and quarantine in government-approved hotels for up to three days at their own expense.

The restrictions come as projections show the COVID-19 variant first identified in the U.K. will be the dominant strain of COVID-19 in parts of Canada by March.

Chwin looks forward to conversations with the government on rebuilding the industry.

“This is a multi-year rebuild, but it can’t happen until we rebuild the confidence with people wanting to move around again. We’re itching to get going to start to do that. The operators have done an incredible job in this industry to make sure that their operations have been safe and welcoming to visitors when we’re ready to go again.”

-with files from Hana Mae Nassar