The COVID-19 pandemic has been “totally devastating for the tourism industry,” says the president and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of New Brunswick (TIANB).
Since the province declared a state of emergency in an effort to slow the spread of novel coronavirus, locking down all but essential services and businesses, Carol Alderdice says they’ve been surveying tourism operators, and the most recent survey with 107 respondents offers a “scary” statistic when businesses were asked to project where they’ll be in the next three months.
“‘Closing the business temporarily’ is 70 per cent, but ‘closing the business permanently’ is the scary one at 18 per cent,” Alderice tells Global News.
One business that’s shuttered for the season now is the Reversing Falls Skywalk & Restaurant in Saint John.
Max Kotlowski, the president and owner of the operation, says it wasn’t worth the financial gamble to expect to open.
“I could just see the writing on the wall; this thing is horrible,” he says. “It’s killing people.”
“It’d be wishful thinking to think it’s going to disappear,” he says. “Maybe I’m wrong, but I just feel that if we were to gear up, it’d be so costly to fill the fridge, the freezer, bring in the staff, have all systems on.”
The season was expected to start May 8 and run to Nov. 3, with the latter half operating with cruise ship traffic. But he says if those are in town, he predicts people will be hesitant to be aboard.
Kotlowski says they’re asking the City of Saint John, which owns the facility, for a rent abatement because a deferral would just put the business behind the 8-ball next season.
“We look forward to the sunny day when we’re open,” he says.
It’s certainly not business as usual in Shediac with essential services making adaptations to respond to the pandemic and remain operational, Mayor Roger Caissie says.
“For other businesses that are closed right now, they’re wondering ‘will we be able to open?'” he says. “Time will tell, you just have to go with that.”
Caissie says staying positive is key for the southeast New Brunswick tourist town.
“If you have a doom and gloom kind of view, yeah it doesn’t look great,” Caisse admits.
“But try to be optimistic, go day-by-day, week-by-week.”
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.
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