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Fredericton’s hospitality industry hopeful despite not seeing benefit of Atlantic travel bubble

Accommodation businesses still adapting to vacancy after Atlantic bubble opens
WATCH: Long lineups to cross borders in Atlantic provinces have not translated to full rooms in accommodation businesses. Megan Yamoah reports hotels and BnBs are still trying to adapt.

Long lineups at the Nova Scotia-New Brunswick border since the Atlantic travel bubble opened up have yet to translate to a busier or more prosperous hospitality industry.

“It seemed like it would be a good year, then everything changed,” said Coral Shuai, the owner of By The River B&B in Fredericton.

On Canada Day, the bed and breakfast opened its doors for the first time since the novel coronavirus pandemic forced them closed on March 17.

Read more: Online sales boom for businesses that went digital during COVID-19

Shuai, who started the business in May 2019, says the pandemic has set her back substantially.

“Each month we lost $10,000 of revenue,” said Shuai

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Up the road, Brennan’s Bed and Breakfast is also attempting to deal with the an industry that has fallen on hard times as a result of COVID-19.

“For the month of June, our bookings are down 84 per cent compared to June of last year,” said John Brennan, owner of Brennan’s Bed and Breakfast.

Now that the Atlantic bubble has opened up, Shuai is marketing staycations to families in the Maritimes.

Atlantic airports still vacant after provinces ease travel restrictions
Atlantic airports still vacant after provinces ease travel restrictions

Tourism Fredericton is even lending a hand, offering stay and play packages to help local hotels attract more guests.

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They offer attractions such as fishing on the Saint John River and $50 Downtown Dollars, which function as redeemable coupons for businesses in the city’s downtown core.

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“That looks quite promising I would say, we got a lot of phone calls to say they want to know more about the package,” said Shuai.

But Brennan said the opening of the Atlantic Bubble has not led to an increase in reservations.

“It hasn’t had any positive impact whatsoever. We have 2 bookings this week one tonight and one on the weekend, said Brennan.

Brennan’s Bed and Breakfast owner says they are facing major monetary hardships.
Brennan’s Bed and Breakfast owner says they are facing major monetary hardships. Megan Yamoah

Even large chain hotels such as the Delta Fredericton are not immune to the financial impact that the pandemic has had on the travel industry.

As a result, they are re-branding.

“In general, across the country resorts seem to be doing a bit better than the typical corporate hotel,” said Sara Holyoke, the general manager of the Delta Fredericton.

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“It’s the right thing for us to do to continue to grow the business and of course we are still a corporate hotel when that corporate traveller is ready to come back.”

Read more: Here’s what you’ll need to do to enter each province in the Atlantic bubble

During the downtime, the bed and breakfasts and the Delta are renovating and revamping their spaces

All three are optimistic their businesses will survive the season.

“We haven’t noticed a major jump but it’s slow and gradual and that’s OK as long as it’s moving in the right direction, said Holyoke