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COVID-19: Manitoba cabin staycation business booming, hotels not so much

Click to play video: 'Manitoba cabin staycation business booming, hotels not so much during COVID-19' Manitoba cabin staycation business booming, hotels not so much during COVID-19
As the warmer months of 2021 approach and the COVID-19 pandemic continues, some Manitobans appear to be preparing to spend another summer close to home – Mar 24, 2021

As the warmer months of 2021 approach and the COVID-19 pandemic continues, some Manitobans appear to be preparing to spend another summer close to home.

Bob Axworthy decided a few years ago to winterize his Victoria Beach cottage and start renting it out as part of his retirement strategy.

Once the coronavirus pandemic hit, he suddenly had more bookings from Manitobans than he could’ve imagined.

“The rental demand is significant. Huge, actually,” Axworthy said. “So many people say, ‘I just need to get away.'”

Read more: Stay-at-home tourism a silver lining to pandemic restrictions, says Tourism Manitoba

He would typically rely on home-sharing sites like Airbnb to connect with renters, but he’s now built up a customer base of more than 200 people and does his bookings directly.

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Axworthy has been so busy, he’s now looking at expanding his mini business.

“I’m now, as part of my retirement strategy, hoping to have some other cabins and see what the rental market brings,” he said.

Click to play video: 'Staycation ideas the whole family will enjoy' Staycation ideas the whole family will enjoy
Staycation ideas the whole family will enjoy – Feb 26, 2021

As for hotels benefitting from the apparent surge in staycations, Scott Jocelyn, Manitoba Hotel Association resident and CEO, said many operators aren’t able to take full advantage.

He said there might be pent-up demand for local travel, but hotels are still facing a number of restrictions.

“Some people in other sectors would be able to look at one section of the health order and say, ‘This applies to us,'” Jocelyn said. “When you think about a hotel, some of our operators have to deal with multiple sections of the health order. They would have a pool, they would have a gym, they would have a restaurant.”

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Read more: Manitoba’s tourism, hospitality sector to see $8M in COVID-19 relief

While some hotels in certain areas of the province might appear to be busy, Jocelyn said it might give off a false impression that the industry has recovered.

“I don’t like to be the doomsday guy, but the reality is, the impact of COVID, we’re going to feel that for a while,” he said. “The impact was deep and long.”

Currently, anyone entering Manitoba from anywhere in Canada must self-isolate for 14 days and the Canada-U.S. land border remains closed.

While no one knows when travel restrictions will be lifted, Axworthy is anticipating another summer full of staycations.

“I’m pretty much booked until the end of next September,” he said.

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