Central, South Okanagan are leading the recovery of B.C.'s hospitality industry | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Central, South Okanagan are leading the recovery of B.C.'s hospitality industry

The South and Central Okanagan hotel industry has fared better than most of B.C. during COVID-19

Grim numbers depicting the state of the tourism and accommodation sectors of the B.C. economy are less depressing in the Okanagan than in other parts of B.C.

While B.C. hotels expect to end up with an average of only 32 per cent occupancy for 2020 due to COVID-19, the Thompson-Okanagan region is looking at 41 per cent.

“Downtown Vancouver had the lowest occupancy in the province and the resort destinations in August are reporting strong summer numbers,” Ingrid Jarrett, president and CEO of the B.C. Hotel Association, said in a webinar she co-hosted with the Tourism Industry Association of B.C., Sept. 2.

“Those, primarily, are the Central-South Okanagan, the Tofino-Ucluelet corridor, the Parksville-Courtenay corridor and then Whistler,” she added. “I can say, the urban destinations, overall, are suffering the most.”

Downtown Vancouver expects an occupancy rate of only 25 per cent by the end of the year.

The Thompson-Okanagan as a whole is the only region expecting more than 40 per cent occupancy. The Central and South Okanagan numbers, which Jarrett said were stronger, were not broken out separately in the presentation.

Hardest hit is the Cariboo-Chilcotin-Coast region at 17 per cent.

There are still almost 31,000 employees laid off in the hotel industry but some of those are students and casuals, Jarrett said.

Only 40 per cent of businesses have recalled their full staff while 58 per cent don’t expect to rehire everyone by the end of the year.

In terms of what is referred to as domestic overnight visitors, the Thompson-Okanagan region’s numbers were down about 70 to 80 per cent when the COVID-19 lockdown was first implemented in mid-March to mid-April but have slowly improved.

For August, the number of visitors was down 23.5 to 28.8 per cent, depending on the week, with the best week being Aug. 3 to 9.

Accommodation, however, was not the hardest hit sector in the tourism industry.

Cruises crashed by 100 per cent and tour bus operations by 95 to 100 per cent while major attractions were down 70 to 90 per cent.

The meetings and events sector was down 90 per cent, which is one reason most hotels did not rehire all their staff, Jarrett said.

Guide outfitters and wilderness tour operators were down 85 per cent.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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News from © iNFOnews, 2020

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