Good Afternoon Hotel and Accommodation Industry;
As we move into the middle of April, and recognize we are in this pandemic just as deep if not deeper than a year ago, and there is little relief in sight other than the hope of vaccinations in all our communities.
I have had the opportunity with several other industry associations and industry leaders to meet with Dr. Bonnie Henry, Minister Mark, Minister Kahlon and our hard working deputy ministers on several relief measures and priorities. The engagement and willingness to listen and to work together is encouraging, but the reality of the restrictions and the COVID numbers do not allow much hope for a short term recovery, nor a short term reopening for our industry.
The round Table engagement session held by Minister Kahlon last Friday, as well as the Round Table held yesterday by Minister Mark both featured Dr. Bonnie Henry detailing the vaccination priorities, updates on the outbreaks and current status of the pandemic. I have to say Dr. Henry’s frank, honest disclosure of the challenges and focus on priorities was well received. Dr. Henry answered a series of tough questions from industry and provided some hope for the coming months, all with the caveat of the COVID numbers, outbreaks and hospitalizations being under control.
Included as an update were the following highlights.
- Restrictions will continue for the next few weeks until the numbers once again diminish they could increase if the numbers continue to grow
- Acknowledgement of the excellent safety plans and protocols by industry
- Border restrictions will continue until at least the fall
- Late spring/summer we should be back to a summer similar to last year which will include intra and inter provincial travel
- Late spring/summer we will be back to meetings up to 50 people, and by fall meetings over 50 people as long as the vaccination rollouts are complete and the COVID numbers are under control
I am very pleased that Minister Mark is providing a seat at the table for industry leaders to work hand in hand looking to the future. We are committed to providing the research, the statistics, the expertise to support the development of a plan so you, our industry can plan and anticipate business demands in the coming months, and look to the time when we are once again welcoming visitors to Beautiful British Columbia. This is critically important work, and I’d like to acknowledge we hear you loud and clear – we need a process, a plan that is predictable. If you are a large operators, or a cornerstone business, please fill out the survey below.
Time and again we are reminded of the outstanding work our industry has done and is doing with safety plans and protocols – and yet behaviour not complying with mask wearing, physical distancing and risky social activities is clearly impacting the timeline for reopening. We are seeing the highest numbers yet of COVID as a result of spring break, and it appears as though we will continue to be faced with the restrictions announced last week until those numbers change.
The hotels that are providing isolation and quarantine shelter for returning Canadians are doing a remarkable job, we have implored the Chief health officer of Coastal Health, Dr. Bonnie Henry, the Health Inspectors and the Public Health Agency of Canada to prioritize vaccinations for these essential workers. As yet, we have not been added to the list even though these hard working essential workers continue to provide care under circumstances with heightened risk. We will continue to advocate on their behalf, we have asked for a written request from the federal government for consideration to ensure their role in public safety is understood and recognized.
We have sent out several survey’s in the past two weeks, for numerous purposes. I know and understand that the time it takes, and often it may feel like the same questions, but the timing for the impact and the actual state of the industry is one of the most important pieces of work we can do to ensure when we are meeting with government and looking to ensure the right programs are available for the right businesses. I know there are still gaps in relief measures, such as ownership, seasonal businesses, new businesses, large businesses to name a few. Your specific stories are what brings life to the facts, so please do answer the “tell us your story” survey – and also if you are a large or cornerstone business, please answer the large business survey we sent out earlier this week. TIABC, IITBC and BCHA are working on a relief measure to address the shortfall for fiscal relief for large businesses, and we need the information in order to educate and develop that program. Addressing the gaps, ensuring the wage subsidy continues, access to the small business grant, large business loans are all in process. Believe me, we are doing everything possible with our partners to keep you in business so you can recover, our workforce can be rehired and our economy can once again thrive.
At this point in April, spring is here, the blossoms are out on the lower mainland, and the snow is starting to melt. This bring returning birdsong, and the balsam root on the banks in the Okanagan, and hope to us all. We continue to work hard on your behalf, and will do out utmost federally and provincially to ensure access to relief is available and that we can recover together.
President and CEO
British Columbia Hotel Association