‘It’s bad’: COVID-19 pandemic hits Ottawa-Gatineau hotel sector

OTTAWA — Hotels that remain open in Ottawa and across Canada are operating at five per cent capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s bad,” said Steve Ball, president of the Ottawa-Gatineau Hotel Association, during an interview with News Talk 580 CFRA’s “Ottawa at Work with Leslie Roberts.”

“Hotels, not just in Ottawa but across the country, are operating under five per cent for the most part. When you close borders and you eliminate travel, obviously your hotel sector is going to be impacted negatively,” said Ball.

Several hotels have temporarily closed in the national capital region, including the Fairmont Chateau Laurier and the Hilton Lac-Leamy in Gatineau. Ball says at least 5,000 of the 6,000 employees that work in hotels in the Ottawa-Gatineau area have been laid off due to a lack of business.

Ball says the suite hotels are still seeing some business during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve got some business, particularly the suite hotels that might be looking for isolation. People looking to isolate, the consulate has booked some rooms,” said Ball.

“People that have come back from international travel that require 14 days of quarantine, a lot of those guys are staying in hotels.”

The spring and summer tourism season is big business for Ottawa’s hotels. But the COVID-19 pandemic has already forced the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival to cancel this year’s event, while the Canadian Tulip Festival is moving online.

Ball says it’s important for Mayor Jim Watson, the City of Ottawa and the tourism sector to start preparing now for the end of the physical distancing measures.

“The challenge about recovery is nobody knows exactly when that happens and what that looks like. But if recovery doesn’t go well there will be properties, and there may be less demand required, in this city for hotels,” said Ball.

The Ottawa-Gatineau Hotel Association is waiting to find out when the physical distancing measures will be lifted. Ball says Ottawa’s tourism sector may be able to bounce back, since it’s popular for domestic tourism and business travel.

“We might be able to ramp back up into the tourism product faster than many.”

Source: Ottawa CTV News

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