COVID-19: More than 2,000 laid off in Saskatoon hotel industry, expert estimates
SASKATOON -- An expert in the tourism industry isn’t expecting the industry to recover from the effects of COVID-19 until 2023.
Shawna Nelson is the director of sales at the Sheraton Cavalier and the chair of the Saskatoon Hotels Destination Marketing Council.
As a result of COVID-19 travel restrictions, Nelson estimates more than 2,200 people have been laid off within Saskatoon’s hotel industry.
“We were the first to be hit with this situation the hardest hit I would say than any other industry, and from what I can tell, and from what I have read, is that we will probably be the last to recover," Nelson told CTV News.
According to Nelson’s data, there’s been $50-million in room revenue losses from mid-March to December, compared to 2019.
Under COVID-19 restrictions, banquet halls and conference rooms are limited to 30 people with physical distancing. In November, the province banned food and drinks being served.
Nelson said the rules wiped out Christmas parties they had secured.
She said the hotel has been trying to pivot from its usual marketing plan, and is focusing on its waterpark.
The hotel has also found other uses for its banquet halls and meeting spaces, such as corporate trainings and provincial court proceedings.
"We've had certain associations or educations requirements needing to do testing so we have had some tests," Nelson said.
Jim Bence, president and CEO of Hospitality Saskatchewan, said government support is crucial for the industry.
"This is where having good government for the supports and programs they have will really make a big difference between us being able to survive and unfortunately some that won’t,” Bence said.
Hospitality Saskatchewan data shows people start to plan their summer holidays during January.
"It's so important these COVID numbers start to come down. Consumer confidence comes back. I know it sounds like it's a long ways away, but it's not," Bence said.
“We need people to want to stay in our hotel rooms, companies to rent out our meeting room space and we want to make sure they feel comfortable in doing that.”