At a time when they’d normally be gearing up for the busy summer season, many Alberta hotels are instead struggling to survive, and some of them may end up going out of business because of the COVID-19 crisis.
Hotel Arts in downtown Calgary is one hotel dealing with the pandemic, having shut down on April 11.
“We can’t stay open and running with around two per cent occupancy,” said Fraser Abbott, Hotel Arts’ director of business development.
“There definitely was not enough traffic.”
The British Columbia Hotel Association estimates that 40 per cent of the hotels in that province may not survive the pandemic, and the numbers may be even more bleak in Alberta.
“It is worse here, because in Alberta we are really doubly hit by not just the pandemic, but obviously the decline in the energy sector,” said Leanne Shaw, a past chair of the Alberta Hotel and Lodging Association.
“That industry normally would be what is driving the corporate business for hotels across the province, so in addition to the pandemic, it’s sort of that double whammy that’s making it far more difficult.”
The Calgary Hotel Association says about 30 per cent of the city’s hotels remain closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, facing further challenges in the weeks ahead.
“The biggest concern right now for Calgary hotels is the cancellation of all the events and festivals that we would enjoy in the summer, the Calgary Stampede first and foremost,” Calgary Hotel Association executive director Sol Zia said.
“There are a few hotels that may not reopen. It’s the sad reality of the situation we are in, as a country and as a city.”
There are several factors that could cause hotels to close permanently.
“The economic strain is immense,” Shaw said.
Hotel Arts is planning to reopen on June 18, hoping to welcome staycationing Albertans while still facing big challenges because of a huge drop in visitors from outside the province.
“We’re still not going to see much in terms of corporate travel, there’s definitely not going to be much in terms of group bookings and there are still restrictions on sporting events,” Abbott said.
“It’s an interesting tap dance.”