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Coronavirus ‘catastrophic’ for Manitoba hotel industry, says association head

Manitoba Hotel Association CEO Scott Jocelyn.
Manitoba Hotel Association CEO Scott Jocelyn. Joe Scarpelli/Global News

As the coronavirus crisis continues, the hospitality business is the latest to suffer from its effects.

In a statement released Thursday, the Hotel Association of Canada said national occupancy levels are below 10 per cent, with hotels closing and workers being laid off across the country due to the pandemic.

Scott Jocelyn, president and CEO of the Manitoba Hotel Association, told 680 CJOB this province is feeling the squeeze as well.

“It’s been catastrophic,” he said.

“Operators are really weighing the decision of whether to remain open or not… The impact has been that devastating.”

Jocelyn, also a member of the Canadian association’s board of directors, said it’s been “scary” to hear some of the issues hoteliers are facing in other parts of Canada.

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“I’m on a lot of national calls, and a lot of things that have happened in other places of the country haven’t happened here yet… so I kind of feel that when I’m on those calls, I’m looking at what our tomorrow and the next day will be.

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“The future is not bright.”

READ MORE: High levels of carbon monoxide force evacuation of St. James hotel

Jocelyn said if people are stuck self-isolating in a hotel, it’s important they let the operators know so appropriate precautions can be taken.

“I would rather people be honest and say, ‘Hey, this is where I’m at,’ so that the hotels can make those decisions… and make sure that those guests are put somewhere it’s safe for the other guests, for those people, for the staff, and we would deal with it going forward,” he said.

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“For us, we get hit on so many levels. You’re staying in rooms, you’re probably having events in our facilities, you’re probably eating in our restaurants, you may be buying some beer from our take-home, you may be having a drink and playing some VLTs in our bar.

“For our model to work, we need all those oars in the water.”

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