The tourism industry in British Columbia is expected to be impacted heavily by COVID-19. Tourism is a prime industry for the region, bringing $20.5 billion in revenue in 2018 and creating 161,500 jobs. Conference Board of Canada, Senior Economist, Daniel Fields predicts that the lost tourism revenue is expected to be $250 million in British Columbia. As the situation is changing rapidly, everyone needs to be ready to adapt efficiently.
Airlines were the first industry to take a hit. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the virus outbreak could cost up to $113 billion this year for the global industry, four times higher than the estimates. Canada has now banned all international flights and closed the Canada-US border to all non-essential travels. Travellers arriving in Canada are also facing a 14-day self-isolation period.
Statistics Canada reports showed 571,000 tourist arrivals from China in 2019. However, the number of international visitors’ entries in B.C., especially from China, declined by 6.3% in December 2019. Destination BC, Vice president, Maya Lange, said during the B.C. Tourism Industry Conference “We are seeing an impact, especially with the long-haul and international travellers to B.C. Bookings are down from China by about 70 % between March and October.”
Louisa Li, the tourism sustainability coordinator at Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association, explains, “this is a problem affecting not only B.C. but the world. Most tourists first visit Vancouver then stop for a few days in the Thompson Okanagan before Toronto, because of the cases in these cities, there are fewer people travelling and getting us impacted. There have been a lot of cancellations by Chinese tour buses in the region. However, there is a fear of travelling, not just by the Chinese but also by American tourists.”
To brace the impact, Canadian marketing agencies such as Destination BC pulled their advertisement money from all international and domestic marketing campaigns. They turned their efforts to plan a significant recovery campaign for the tourism industry.
Minister of Tourism, Lisa Beare, assures in a letter to the industry, “As the tourism, hospitality and culture sectors are amongst the hardest-hit by this pandemic, we are working on sector-specific supports to help you come back strong in the future”.