Three hotels with a thousand beds in Richmond have been closed and more may follow due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
The BC Hotel Association expects two-thirds of hotels across the province to close over the next few months as tourists cancel travel plans and YVR traffic is cut in half.
While the Accent Inn in Richmond is being redeployed either for health-care workers or for quarantining, The Marriott, the Hilton and River Rock have closed, explained Nancy Small, CEO of Tourism Richmond, to the Richmond COVID-19 Task Force on Monday morning.
The airport is only expecting half the passengers originally anticipated this year – down from last year’s number of 26 million to between 13 to 15 million this year. This will have a “major impact” on tourism, Small said, and, in fact, it is already having an impact.
Richmond businesses overall were already feeling squeezed a couple weeks ago because of the COVID-19 health crisis.
In a survey conducted by the chamber of commerce, 90 per cent of businesses reported they expected to see a negative impact from the outbreak, while 74 per cent said that impact would be “significantly negative.” Furthermore, almost half said they thought they might go out of business.
Fan Chun, chair of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce board of directors, reported these numbers during the task force’s weekly e-meeting.
These numbers were based on a survey done on March 18, and the chamber is currently surveying its members again as the health crisis impacts many sectors of the economy.
Since the survey was conducted, the federal government has come out with measures to help businesses weather the storm, explained chamber president and CEO Matt Pitcairn, for example, a 75-per-cent wage subsidy for businesses that have had a 30-per-cent or more drop in revenues, and deferrals of GST payments and import costs, which he said “will go a long way to helping businesses survive this crisis.”
The Richmond COVID-19 Task Force is co-chaired by Chun and Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie and includes politicians, business leaders and senior staff from the city and school board.