VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Spring is here and while progress is being made on digging ourselves out of the pandemic, the accommodation and tourism industry is largely stalled.
As events, weddings and overall travel are restricted or discouraged, Ingrid Jarrett, the president and CEO of the B.C. Hotel Association says it will still be a while before the industry sees a bounce back in a post-COVID world.
“There’s a sense of caution. And until we really get encouragement from our Minister of Health [and] Dr. Bonnie Henry and potentially our premier — I think people are staying very close to home,” she says.
Jarrett says anyone considering travel is usually making their way to ski hills for a day trip. And compared to last year, reservations around the province are significantly down, she adds.
About 85 per cent of hotels are still open, but a big chunk of their business from events and government functions has been all but wiped out.
Jarrett says urban centers are citing that they’re down about 90 per cent from 2019 because demand factors are down for convention centers, large hotels, events that usually surround urban centres.
“We’re really looking at a domestic market … people are being very cautious. And hotels are … going into our 16th consecutive month of losses,” she says.
“So we’re working very closely with government both federally and provincially to try to make sure that we can span this gap to keep these businesses in business.”
According to Jarrett, about 32,000 employees in the hotel sector remain laid off since last year.
And while Jarrett considers herself an optimist when she recounts this past year of the pandemic, she doesn’t have much hope for 2021.
“Without the corporate travel, the government travel, the groups, the meetings, the events, think of the art festivals and the music festivals and things that would be big generators for small towns, or large cities around the province. Without our weddings … no gathering. And we’re still hearing that there’s some caution this summer the vaccine rollout is very welcome, but it’s not the ‘be all end all’ we need active rapid testing plans, we need to restart plan,” she explains.
“All indicators are that this summer could be very similar to last summer.”
– With files from Miranda Fatur