With a starvation occupancy rate of 5% to 15%, many hotels are considering closing their doors while the COVID-19 storm passes. In fact, the entire tourism industry is pausing and preparing to take millions of dollars in losses.
“This is unheard of!” points out the director of the communications and marketing division of the Office du tourisme de Québec, Éric Bilodeau, on the phone. Usually around 60% to 65% of hotel rooms are rented at this time of the year.
So there are still a few foreign travelers in the capital, who arrived before the draconian border closure and the reduction of international flights, observes the OTQ. But they are few. “Several of them are currently in the process of returning to their homes.”
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The occupancy rates “currently between 5 to 15% in most establishments” are therefore bound to melt further.
Consequence: “The Quebec City Hotel Association confirms that certain hotels will reduce their capacity or cease their activities temporarily and preventively,” said a press release sent by the communications advisor, public relations, Jenna. Dubé. “Several hotels and tourist attractions tell us that they have already had to lay off temporarily in the past few days.”
“What is quite incredible is the speed with which it happened,” adds Éric Bilodeau. “Three weeks ago, we were in an industry with a labor shortage.” Today workers are sent home, without anyone knowing when they will be called back.
Industry on break
“The tourism industry is one of the industries that will be hit very hard,” says Eric Bilodeau. “The regional industry is in the process of entering pause mode.”
A stranger remains: “No one knows when this event will end.”
“What is quite incredible is the speed with which it happened. Three weeks ago, we were in an industry with a labor shortage. ”
– Éric Bilodeau, director of the communications and marketing division of the Office du tourisme de Québec
One day, however, it will be necessary to revive the industry which will have lost “millions of dollars”.
We already know that the year 2020 is screwed up for international tourism. Perhaps Ontarians, Quebecers and Northeastern Americans will return before the end of the year.
Either way, it will take time to get back to cruising speed. Mr. Bilodeau cites as an example the 2001 SARS: “It had taken 2 years and more to have a recovery.”
In the meantime, the Office can only note the desertion of the capital, usually visited by 4.6 million tourists per year.
Popular rallies are prohibited by the Quebec government; restaurants and cafes can only serve 50% of their regular customers, when customers come; the buffets and sugar shacks are closed.
Faced with the considerable decline in their activities, Jenna Dubé recommends that entrepreneurs in the tourism industry compile their losses and quantify the decrease in ridership. This will help to make possible claims.
Meanwhile, the OTQ suspends all of its advertising campaigns to sell the Quebec destination. “[Also], all sales and business development activities are canceled until further notice.” Visits organized for foreign media are likewise deleted from the calendar.
Of course, since there are no tourists, the tourist information office in Old Quebec is closed.