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Coronavirus pandemic has 30-40% of B.C. hotels facing insolvency, says industry

Click to play video 'Hard times for the B.C. hospitality industry' Hard times for the B.C. hospitality industry
WATCH: Hard times for the B.C. hospitality industry – May 7, 2020

The industry association representing B.C. hotels says 30 to 40 per cent of establishments could go under, if the novel coronavirus pandemic drags on.

Many of the province’s accommodation providers have shut their doors entirely, like Vancouver’s family-owned Wedgewood Hotel.

“It was a very, very difficult decision to make,” said general manger Glenn Eleiter, who described it as a little “eerie” and “odd” to have the building empty for the first time in 37 years.

READ MORE: B.C. sets mid-May target to reopen restaurants with coronavirus precautions

“We had to do the right thing for the community, for our staff, for our clients coming into the property — so, eventually, pausing the operation was the only decision we could make.”

Others, like the Burrard Hotel, have found a way to keep the doors open.

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The hotel is located directly across the street from St. Paul’s Hospital, and worked out a deal with Providence Health Care to provide rooms for health-care workers.

Some stay overnight, while others just grab a few hours to relax or have a meal.

But general manger Darren Simpson said the Burrard is still dealing with “single-digit” occupancy numbers.

“No one is covering their costs at this point, so it’s how far into the red do you want to go until you get back on your feet again,” he said.

READ MORE: B.C.’s top doctor urges patience, caution as economy slowly reopens under COVID-19

According to B.C.’s economic restart plan, the province is aiming for June to restart the hotel sector with precautions, should COVID-19 cases remain steady or keep decreasing.

That can’t come soon enough, according to the BC Hotel Association.

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“We’re looking at over 700 closed properties currently and about 64,000 people are laid off,” said association president and CEO Ingrid Jarrett.

“If we don’t get back to business in a safe manner and start regenerating some demand in our tourism sector and if we don’t get relief measures, 30 to 40 per cent of the hotels in the province will be insolvent.”

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