COVID-19 impacts Tourism Calgary, 60 per cent of staff to be temporarily laid off

Click to play video 'Canada-U.S. border closing to non-essential travel' Canada-U.S. border closing to non-essential travel
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canada-U.S. border is shutting down to non-essential traffic. As Jeff Semple explains, the tourism industry is taking a big hit. – Mar 18, 2020

Tourism Calgary announced Thursday temporary layoffs of more than half of its staff due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The organization said 60 per cent of its workers will be laid off for the time being, and the remaining staff will face reduced compensation, including a decrease in hourly wages.

“Today’s decisions were very difficult,” Cindy Ady, Tourism Calgary’s CEO said.

“Our entire industry is being severely impacted by the effects of this pandemic.”

READ MORE: COVID-19: Canada’s tourism industry braces for impact amid coronavirus outbreak

The organization said its dealing with a shortfall in funding.

In a statement on Thursday, Tourism Calgary noted its primary funder, the Calgary Hotel Association, has seen a severe drop in revenue as travel ceases across the globe.

Story continues below advertisement
Click to play video 'Coronavirus outbreak: Hotel industry struggling during COVID-19 crisis' Coronavirus outbreak: Hotel industry struggling during COVID-19 crisis
Coronavirus outbreak: Hotel industry struggling during COVID-19 crisis – Mar 22, 2020

The organization said many tourism-related businesses in the city have been impacted by COVID-19, through temporary closures, layoffs and reduced sales.

“Approximately 66 per cent of workers in Calgary’s tourism industry have been temporarily laid off,” the statement said.

“That number is expected to climb as restrictions to support flattening the curve of the virus prolong.”

READ MORE: ‘We’re devastated’: COVID-19 dries up tourism industry, thousands laid off in mountain towns

The organization’s temporary layoffs will take effect in April.

However, Ady said she’s optimistic the tourism industry can recover from the economic downturn.

“We are retaining a core team to support our industry partners,” she said.

Story continues below advertisement

“And to plan for recovery, so we can rebuild Calgary’s $2 billion annual visitor economy in a responsible and prudent way when the time is appropriate.”