“We are advising Canadians against all non essential travel outside of Canada.”
This advice comes directly from the provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, and for some it has major repercussions.
Manager of the Amethyst Inn Thomas Butterworth says business is unexpectedly down since the outbreak of COVID-19.
“A huge decrease. Revenue prior to this in January from this year compared to 2019 was a 12 per cent increase, in February was a 15 per cent increase, and now were in a decrease from last year, about 8%, and it keeps decreasing,” said the B&B manager.
The guests that do come to stay, are not acting the same.
“I have guests who don’t want breakfast anymore,” said Butterworth, “I have guests who want to stay for a shortened period of time, who just want to leave earlier, or guests who just don’t want to come whatsoever anymore. It’s just unfortunate.”
Amethyst Inn normally sees about three to four cancellations a month. In just the past 10 days alone, they have seen 21 people revoke their reservations.
The dip in business is a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sales all over the island’s tourism sector are down, but some experts say this is just the beginning for the industry.
“There are a lot of people employed in the sector, that is a bunch of spending power that comes in seasonally,” said UVIC assistant economics professor Rob Gillezeau.
“I think we are going to similar shocks right across all tourism markets in the world.”
Without tourists pouring in, hotels will now have to lean on locals.
“You know a lot of the locals are a bit more frightened to go anywhere now, which I don’t blame them, but just more locals would be most appreciative,” said Butterworth.
The pricing for hotels is better than ever, with the Amethyst Inn offering 40 per cent off for the month of March.
They are not the only ones as dozens of other hotels in the region are offering what are called “staycation” deals. The idea is to give local residents extra discounts as an incentive to fill up the empty rooms.
B.C.’s top doctor is encouraging everyone to still go out and support local businesses.
“We’re not talking about shutting down society here.” said Henry, “It’s still very safe today in B.C., all across B.C., to go out, to go shopping, to go to restaurants.”
Now it is up to the locals to keep part of Victoria’s tourism industry afloat in what may seem like a sinking situation.