Advertisement

Occupancy rates for Stampede week are about 50%: Calgary Hotel Association

Click to play video: 'Canadian travel restrictions ease for fully vaccinated passengers' Canadian travel restrictions ease for fully vaccinated passengers
No more hotel quarantine for fully vaccinated travellers entering Canada. That applies to citizens, permanent residents and others legally allowed to be here. Sean O’Shea reports – Jul 5, 2021

The executive director of the Calgary Hotel Association says occupancy rates this Stampede week are only at around 50 per cent.

On a normal Stampede week, hotels would be around 90 per cent full. This year, they’re sitting half occupied. It’s a big increase from 10 per cent in May but nowhere near where rates should be.

Read more: Pandemic hits Alberta’s hospitality industry harder than any other sector: CFIB

“We will be lucky to emerge out of these 10 days with 60 per cent,” said Sol Zia, executive director of the Calgary Hotel Association.

“Hopefully more people come in as they see how safe and how exciting Stampede is.”

Story continues below advertisement
Click to play video: 'Alberta hotels facing ‘sad reality’ of permanent closure because of COVID-19 pandemic' Alberta hotels facing ‘sad reality’ of permanent closure because of COVID-19 pandemic
Alberta hotels facing ‘sad reality’ of permanent closure because of COVID-19 pandemic – May 28, 2020

The NDP and the Calgary Hotel Association are now asking for an extension of the hotel levy abatement.

Last April, the provincial government told hotel operators they could hold onto the four per cent tourism levy they normally pay. That relief deal ended at the end of June.

Read more: Kenney government letting Alberta hotels keep tourism levy amounts to help industry weather pandemic

“If our hotels can retain and invest the four per cent tourism levy as guest revenues now become meaningful, we can ensure more hotels survive and then we can rehire as many of our lost workforce as possible,” Zia said.

Click to play video: 'Alberta restaurants rapidly rehiring as COVID-19 restrictions ease July 1' Alberta restaurants rapidly rehiring as COVID-19 restrictions ease July 1
Alberta restaurants rapidly rehiring as COVID-19 restrictions ease July 1 – Jun 25, 2021

At a news conference Sunday morning, NDP MLA Sarah Hoffman said the next few months are crucial to the success of hotels.

Story continues below advertisement

“If adopted, (the levy abatement) would allow Alberta hotels and other accommodation providers to have some time to get their legs back underneath them and will allow them to devote further funding to marketing and promotions as we attempt to draw travellers back.”

The general manager and vice president of the Hotel Arts Group says they’ve hired about one-third of their workforce back from what they had in 2019.

Read more: Alberta hotels facing ‘sad reality’ of permanent closure because of COVID-19 pandemic

Mark Wilson says most visitors now are coming from Western Canada.

“The province lifting the restrictions on COVID is the big driver right now,” he said.

“The other major driver for Calgary specifically is deciding to have Stampede this year.”

Story continues below advertisement

The head of Calgary’s Hotel Association said it’s critical that international travelers are welcomed back to Canada.

Fully vaccinated Canadian citizens and permanent residents no longer need to quarantine for 14 days after arriving but fully vaccinated international tourists are not yet permitted to enter the country.

Read more: Loosened COVID-19 travel rules boost visits to Canada — but half still turned away

“We are happy and excited that as a city (that) we might see 50 per cent occupancy during the period of Stampede. That is through Albertans and maybe regional travellers from other provinces who are flocking here for Stampede,” Zia said.

“But of course, without international travel and the border being reopened, 50 per cent is as good as will get.

“Our response is clear: reopening the border, encouraging travel, reopening international travel.”

Click to play video: '‘We’re not there yet’: Prime Minister on reopening of Canada-U.S. border and foreign visitor guidelines' ‘We’re not there yet’: Prime Minister on reopening of Canada-U.S. border and foreign visitor guidelines
‘We’re not there yet’: Prime Minister on reopening of Canada-U.S. border and foreign visitor guidelines – Jul 8, 2021

Premier Jason Kenney said Monday that he understands the hotel industry has been hit hard, which is why the government has given hoteliers “huge support” by letting them keep the tourism levy, increased Tourism Alberta’s budget by $23 million for each of next three years to help hotels, and abated other fees over the last 16 months.

Story continues below advertisement

“We think the best thing though is for the feds to open the borders and fill up these hotels. Until that happens, they’re going to be struggling, unfortunately,” Kenney said.

Read more: Calgary heat wave leading to boost in staycations

An Alberta government spokesperson says the province is considering extending the tourism levy abatement.

The government estimates the year-long break on the levy saved hotel operators around $33 million.

“Alberta’s government allocated hundreds of millions of dollars in supports to help small businesses get through the pandemic, including billions in deferrals,” said Justin Brattinga, press secretary for Jobs, Economy and Innovation Minister Doug Schweitzer.

“In the latest round of the Relaunch Grant, we ensured that all hotels were able to receive an additional $10,000.

“Thanks to our province’s nation-leading vaccination program, the greatest outdoor show on Earth is currently taking place, filling hotel rooms across Calgary.”

Read more: COVID-19: Events sector keeps eye on Calgary Stampede to see if mass gatherings can be held safely

“The Alberta government is going to continue to pressure the federal government to lift restrictions on international travellers so that our tourism industry, and the tens of thousands who depend on it, can recover,” Brattinga said.

Story continues below advertisement
Click to play video: 'Canada-U.S. border uncertainty concerning for Jasper National Park' Canada-U.S. border uncertainty concerning for Jasper National Park
Canada-U.S. border uncertainty concerning for Jasper National Park – Jun 19, 2021

Sponsored content