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Richmond hotels start to bounce back after 2020

Hotel tax revenues dropped 64 per cent in Richmond in 2020.
The Pacific Gateway Hotel in Richmond. File photo

Richmond hotel revenues bounced back somewhat in the first half of 2021 after a 64 per cent decline in revenues in 2020 as travel was severely restricted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But revenue from January to May this year was still 34 per cent lower than the same period in 2019 before the pandemic hit.

Some hotels in Richmond have been used to quarantine travellers through a federal government contract – YVR is one of four airports in Canada receiving international flights.

But labour unrest has persisted at one Richmond hotel that has had its quarantine contract extended to the end of December.

Pacific Gateway Hotel initially let go 142 hotel workers, but this caused 30 of the remaining unionized staff to walk out in solidarity.

Picket lines have been up at Pacific Gateway since May, and Stephanie Fung, spokesperson for the union, Unite Here Loc. 40, said no progress has been made and there are no talks going on with management to resolve the labour dispute.

They have been without a contract since 2018.

Unite Here Loc. 40 is asking the federal government to cancel the COVID-19 quarantine contract and ensure those who were laid off – of which 74 per cent are women – get their jobs back.

The union has been protesting at some MP offices to get support for their demands.

Hotel slowdown hits Richmond’s bottomline     

The hotel tax, which goes to the city, dropped to $14.7 million in 2020, but in 2021, this was already $54.8 million by the end of May.

The three-per-cent hotel tax goes to the city to support tourism.

Two-thirds of the funds go to Tourism Richmond, $400,000 goes towards sports marketing and programs, and 0.2 per cent goes to the province. The remainder is split between Tourism Richmond and the city.

Airbnbs also pay a hotel tax, but this goes directly into the city’s affordable housing reserve.

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