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Tourism industry resolves to get through pandemic

By Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Published 1:27 PDT, Fri April 24, 2020

Last Updated: 2:23 PDT, Fri April 24, 2020

As the tourism and hospitality industry continues to battle the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tourism Richmond CEO Nancy Small and her colleagues are dedicated to finding solutions.

Small is one of the co-chairs of the Metro Vancouver Tourism and Hospitality Response and Recovery Task Force. This group is a collaboration between Tourism Vancouver, Tourism Richmond and the BC Hotel Association, and brings around 50 organizations together to create a voice for the industry.

“We’re advocating for the tourism and hospitality industry,” explains Small. The task force chairs are communicating with federal and provincial government authorities on an ongoing basis to help their industry get through the crisis and, subsequently, to recover.

Small says the main issue for many tourism and hospitality related businesses is liquidity. Current governmental supports rely on businesses having some funds to top up money from the government.

“We want to make sure that our task force members are able to be here in three or six months when they’re ready for recovery,” she says.

“We are very thankful for what the governments have already done, but we’re trying to advocate for them to continue, and to continue to understand why our industry really needs the support now and in the future.”

Small says that restaurants are seeing an 80 per cent reduction in business resulting in layoffs of approximately 85 per cent of staff. Pubs and bars were required to close, so 100 per cent of staff have been laid off. 

She adds that it’s heartening to see how some local restaurants have pivoted to offer new and creative situations. But at this point, discussions on recovery are still uncertain.

“Ultimately, we are looking to recovery. However, without government assistance and intervention right now, the product that we have to market in six to nine months is very different from the product that we have marketed in the past,” Small says. “We have one of the top destinations in the world, and we want to preserve that, we want to keep that as much as we can.”

In Richmond, localized efforts include a proposed business portal—a collaboration between Tourism Richmond, the city’s economic development office, and the chamber of commerce.

“We’re going to collaborate on a portal that will bring information together, not only business resources but also (other) resources that will bring residents together,” says Small. 

The portal will house online attractions in order to build community spirit in Richmond. Small says it will open soon.

She commends the city of Richmond’s efforts: “They’ve done so much for residents, they’ve been so active and responding so quickly, it’s been quite impressive to see.”

For more on Tourism Richmond, visit them online: visitrichmondbc.com

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