BC Hotel Association expects two-thirds to close amid pandemic

Crisis forces hotel closures

Three hotels with 1,000 beds in Richmond have closed, and more may follow due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The BC Hotel Association expects two-thirds of hotels across the province to close over the next few months as tourists cancel travel plans and YVR traffic is cut in half.

While the Accent Inn in Richmond is being redeployed either for health-care workers or for quarantining, the Marriott, the Hilton and River Rock have closed, Nancy Small, CEO of Tourism Richmond, explained to the Richmond COVID-19 Task Force.

The airport is only expecting half the passengers originally anticipated this year – down from last year’s number of 26 million to between 13 to 15 million this year. This will have a “major impact” on tourism, Small said, and, in fact, it is already having an impact.

Richmond businesses overall were already feeling squeezed a couple weeks ago because of the COVID-19 health crisis.

In a survey conducted by the chamber of commerce, 90 per cent of businesses reported they expected to see a negative impact from the outbreak, while 74 per cent said that impact would be “significantly negative.” Furthermore, almost half said they thought they might go out of business.

Since the survey was conducted, the federal government has come out with measures to help businesses weather the storm, explained chamber president and CEO Matt Pitcairn, for example, a 75-per-cent wage subsidy for businesses that have had a 30-per-cent or more drop in revenues, and deferrals of GST payments and import costs, which he said “will go a long way to helping businesses survive this crisis.”

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