Dear Accommodation Community,
While I write to you today with the results of our August pulse check - which casts alarming projections for our fall and winter seasons - I want to remind each and every person in our community how critical it is that we work together to save our sector. The work that we have done at the BCHA has always been to support the people at the heart of your businesses, which is something I know you are all extremely committed to as well. The BCHA team is also working hard on recovery strategies, and developing partnerships to assist our sector to manage the current dire situation, to garner needed fiscal support, and ensure we are poised for recovery
Through our advocacy, we have been committed to avoiding sensationalized messaging in order to communicate the facts, and ultimately, secure the fiscal support that is desperately needed to keep businesses solvent, protect our teams, and foster the thousands of jobs that are currently at risk of being permanently lost.
In terms of our current landscape as represented by our August Pulse Check, we have seen some positive signs of summer business in resort destinations around the province such as Tofino, Courtney, the Okanagan Valley and Whistler. While it is promising that some destinations have seen an increase in visitation, this is sadly not the case for the rest of British Columbia. And as we enter into fall and winter seasons, we face the harsh reality that these numbers are expected to significantly drop.
While one of our main concerns is the ability to recall employees, the survey results did indicate a ten percent increase in the amount of employees that were able to be recalled in comparison to our July Pulse Check, which is what we all want to see. However, there remains 30,000 employees compared to 2019 numbers not working. This is directly due to restrictions on group, corporate, convention, tour and conference business, as well as continued low occupancies in the province. Without the international market reopening, this is unlikely to change, although opening the domestic market could make a measurable difference.
Of the 30,000 laid off positions around the province, it is estimated 10,000 is for banquet and catering, culinary positions, and approximately 10,000 are positions that were not hired in the spring of 2020 due to Covid-19, as they were seasonal jobs filled by working holiday visas, students and foreign workers. The balance of 10,000 is directly due to low occupancies which impact every department in a hotel, from rooms, to food and beverage, maintenance, housekeeping to name a few.
Hotel companies and management companies are not left unscathed either, on average, management has the same % of positions laid off, as hourly employees and the remaining management positions which are working have reduced work weeks, and/or have agreed to salary reductions on average of 20%. We are all in this together, and our industry is known for working together, supporting each other and building community.
Another important fact about the hotel industry, is hotel positions are skilled, highly trained positions, in many different departments from engineering, maintenance, IT, finance, housekeeping, guest service, culinary, rooms division, revenue management, sales and catering to name but a few. These positions are skilled, well-paid jobs in our province, and the hotel sector contributes to every community in the province on a variety of levels. Our industry has routinely faced difficulty finding workers with these vast skillsets so when exceptional circumstances such as the COVID-19 pandemic causes layoffs to occur, they are not taken lightly.
Currently we are working hand in hand with Government to ensure our industry is understood, and that we garner the appropriate investment in recovery that we need to survive and continue to thrive. This is our number one priority right now in order for our industry to survive and to save jobs on all levels. We urge each individual in our industry to understand the importance of this and commit to working alongside us all so that our messaging remains consistent and focused.
We continue to encourage hoteliers to meet with their local MLA’s, MPs and mayors to detail the need to support the recovery strategy submitted by BCHA & TIABC for the hospitality and tourism industry.
In addition are working on detailing the relief measures we need for property tax relief, as well as poised to ensure our submission for recovery is being considered as it is aligned with the TIABC submission and the Metro Vancouver Response and Recovery submission. We are all in this together, and it is going to take all of us to support each other and rebuild our Tourism Economy.
I urge each of you to read this letter written by CEO of Tourism Industry Association of British Columbia (TIABC), Walt Judas, as he explains how crucial it is for us all to work together so that we all can collectively recover from the impacts of this devastating pandemic.
President and CEO
British Columbia Hotel Association