British Columbia is entering the third phase of its restart plan, Premier John Horgan said June 24, which means hotels and resorts will all be able to reopen.
But hotel operators are bracing for a rough road back to business.
Travel advisories remain in effect for all countries, including a ban on non-essential travel for Americans. As well, a federal ban on cruise ships docking at Canadian ports is in effect until October 31.
The Vancouver Convention Centre reports that 129 events had been cancelled as of May 29, including conventions, trade and consumer shows and other meetings. About 382,000 people had been expected to attend those events, the convention centre said.
“A lot of our market was the cruise business,” Pan Pacific Hotels & Resorts Vancouver general manager Gary Collinge told Business in Vancouver. “It was the convention business. We’re a group hotel, and that has pretty much dried up for 2020.”
Collinge said his hotel has stayed open throughout the pandemic in part because he did not think it would save much money to close, given the large building that his hotel is in, connected to Vancouver Convention Centre East.
Collinge called the loss in convention business “substantial.”
Other major Vancouver hotels, such as the Westin Bayshore Hotel Vancouver and the Fairmont Pacific Rim, have also remained open.
The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, however, closed.
Its general manager, Adam Laker, told BIV that he closed the hotel to keep guests and employees safe during the pandemic and that he wanted to see how well the reopening of restaurants and pubs goes, before committing to a reopening.
His hotel has begun to take reservations starting July 1, but reopening on that date is not certain.
“We’re being honest with people by saying, ‘Look, if we’re not going to open, we’ll let you know,’” he said.
CBRE Hotels forecasts that the key industry metric of revenue per available room (RevPAR) will fall by 50 per cent in 2020. In 2021, RevPAR is expected to be 20 per cent below 2019 levels, according to CBRE. It does not see the hotel sector returning to pre-pandemic RevPAR until spring 2023.
“The easing of travel restrictions and social distancing guidelines is the first step to recovery in the hotel sector, but consumer confidence is critical and may take a long time, plus a vaccine, to revive,” said Brian Stanford, senior managing director of CBRE Hotels.