October 22, 2020
For Immediate Release
St. John’s – As the provincial tourism sector continues to navigate the impacts of the current public health crisis, Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador hosted a breakfast session with key stakeholders this morning to collaborate on next steps. Tourism operators from across the province and key stakeholders were joined by provincial government officials and politicians from all parties for an information session that focused on the value of the sector, how COVID-19 has impacted businesses, communities and tourism infrastructure and how the industry can move forward.
“Tourism is a $1.14 billion industry in this province, and, because of COVID-19 and the implications of public health protocols, our vital industry is in a real crisis,” said Brenda O’Reilly, Vice-Chair, Hospitality NL. “Today’s session was all about raising awareness and collaborating with our key stakeholders about how we move forward to allow for the survival of our sector.”
There are over 2,700 tourism-related businesses in this province, 78% of these are small business creating upwards of 20,000 jobs for residents of NL.
Since the arrival of COVID-19 and all of the ways it has impacted the province, the communities and the way people do business, the provincial tourism sector has been one of the hardest hit. This is largely due to the timing of the pandemic, since close to half of tourism operators in NL are seasonal. In a recent survey, Hospitality NL learned that 21% of respondents have closed (temporarily), 55% of tourism businesses are open but at reduced capacities and 69% of respondents suggest that they would not be able to stay in business without access to government supports. The reality is that most tourism operators in NL do not foresee revenues returning to “pre-covid19” levels until 2022/2023.
“This morning our key stakeholders and government officials heard from several operators, who painted a picture of resilience and spirit as they navigate this new challenge,” said Craig Foley, CEO, Hospitality NL. “For many of our members, this has included layoffs and major economical setbacks to their business and communities. We wanted to ensure everyone in the room this morning could leave with the ability to articulate the value of this industry and an understanding that there needs to be a plan for recovery.”
The tourism sector has felt the impacts of COVID-19 on many fronts. Operators saw a major decline in visitation and were suddenly forced to rely on local and Atlantic Canadian visitors. The infrastructure of tourism changed, with new expectations, demands and realities. Operators had to invest in PPE, marketing materials and signage re public health protocols and other materials. Access to supplies and resources has been limited. And the financial strains have been immense for many.
At this morning’s session, Hospitality NL made it clear that there needs to be a plan for recovery for this industry. “Our members need a sense of hope for the future and they need to know that their government understands the pressures and challenges that exist,” concluded O’Reilly.
Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador, the provincial tourism industry association for over 35 years, is dedicated to advancing growth in tourism through advocacy efforts, skills and knowledge development and membership opportunities.
P: 709-722-2000 ext. 231