So far 17 conferences have been cancelled or rescheduled after WHO announced a pandemic. (Black Press Media file photo)

So far 17 conferences have been cancelled or rescheduled after WHO announced a pandemic. (Black Press Media file photo)

Economic impact of COVID-19 on Victoria’s tourism industry will be ‘devastating,’ experts say

Destination Greater Victoria CEO expects losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars

Victoria’s tourism industry is taking a massive hit in light of the World Health Organization’s declaration of a pandemic due to COVID-19, also known as the novel coronavirus.

Destination Greater Victoria (DGV) had been looking forward to its busiest year for conferences with 65 booked, but since last week’s pandemic announcement there have been mass cancellations.

“So far we’ve had 17 cancellations, with four re-booked and three working to finalize and 10 up in the air,” said DGV CEO Paul Nursey. “I suspect the next three to 10 months will have a devastating effect on the economy.”

ALSO READ: Michelle Obama talk in Victoria postponed amidst COVID-19 concerns

Nursey estimated the region will take a hit in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

“Our team is working day and night to try to re-book as many conferences as we can.”

Nursey worked with Tourism Vancouver during both 9/11 and the SARS epidemic, and is trying to apply what he learned then to now.

“It’s going to be very, very difficult,” he said. “But the best thing we can do is be task-focused, be nimble and just get through this.”

Conferences are being booked ahead into the next quarter whenever possible, but in the meantime Nursey is worried for local businesses and restaurants, which rely on visitors to sustain them in the summer.

“We need policy makers and all levels of government to step in and support them,” he said. “We need people to recognize the importance of the tourism industry – it’s never recognized until it’s gone.”

Conferences aren’t the only thing affected; the federal government announced on Friday morning that all port calls from cruise ships carrying more than 500 passengers will be delayed until July 1, a move that the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority estimated would cost the local economy upwards of $65 million.

ALSO READ: Canada will ban cruise ships with over 500 people from docking until July

At a local level, businesses partnered with the South Island Prosperity Partnership (SIPP) have reported ongoing issues to Bruce Williams, director of engagement.

“We are hearing varied unique strategies from out members,” Williams said. “One member created a temporary basis paid sick leave for all employees… another said supply chain and movement of goods have been impacted, while another said they are cancelling discretionary gatherings and events.”

Downtown Victoria Business Association executive director Jeff Bray told Black Press Media that many businesses are holding off on their summer hires as they wait to see what will happen.

“We’ll watch and wait,” Bray said. “It’s a nervous time for some of our businesses for sure.”

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Like us on Facebook, send a Tweet to @NicoleCrescenzi
and follow us on Instagram

CoronavirusTourism Victoria

Just Posted

Kenny Podmore, here seen at Sidney’s cenotaph in November, says he feels for the veterans after organizers had to cancel an event acknowledging Victory in Europe (VE) Day for the second time in as many years because of COVID-19. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
North Saanich event marking 75th anniversary of VE-Day cancelled

Sidney resident first planned event for May 9, 2020 moved to May 8 before being cancelled

Individuals and businesses are encouraged to bring their unwanted electronics to Tillicum Centre May 14 to be shredded, recycled or donated. (Black Press Media file photo)
Greater Victoria residents can shred, donate electronics safely

Vancouver Island Better Business Bureau hosts event May 14 at Tillicum Centre

Scheduling popular summer events like the Canada Day celebrations is difficult due to the pandemic. (File - Sooke News Mirror)
Sooke summer events schedule clouded by COVID

Public health guidelines hamper plans

The District of Sooke is looking at new plans to build a fenced dog park at Ponds Park Corridor. (Pixabay.com)
Sooke seeks input on dog park

Public comment welcomed until June 4

Sooke RCMP are asking for the public’s help in finding Jeremy Tinnion after he was last seen in leaving a Sooke shelter on May 13. (Photo courtesy of Sooke RCMP)
MISSING: Jeremy Tinnion last seen in Sooke on May 13

The 31-year-old was last seen by staff members as he was leaving an Otter Point Road shelter

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
MISSING: Salt Spring RCMP find woman’s car, still seek Island resident

Sinikka Gay Elliott is 5’3” with a slim build and dark brown short hair

A Saanich man received almost 10 years in Supreme Court in Courtenay for a shooting incident from 2018. Record file photo
Shooting incident on Island nets almost 10-year sentence

Saanich man was arrested without incident north of Courtenay in 2018

Bradley Priestap in an undated photo provided to the media some time in 2012 by the London Police Service.
Serial sex-offender acquitted of duct tape possession in B.C. provincial court

Ontario sex offender on long-term supervision order was found with one of many ‘rape kit’ items

Rich Coleman, who was responsible for the gaming file off and on from 2001 to 2013, was recalled after his initial testimony to the Cullen Commission last month. (Screenshot)
Coleman questioned over $460K transaction at River Rock during B.C. casinos inquiry

The longtime former Langley MLA was asked about 2011 interview on BC Almanac program

Steven Shearer, <em>Untitled. </em>(Dennis Ha/Courtesy of Steven Shearer)
Vancouver photographer’s billboards taken down after complaints about being ‘disturbing’

‘Context is everything’ when it comes to understanding these images, says visual art professor Catherine Heard

Trina Hunt's remains were found in the Hope area on March 29. Her family is asking the public to think back to the weekend prior to when she went missing. (Photo courtesy of IHIT.)
Cousin of missing woman found in Hope says she won’t have closure until death is solved

Trina Hunt’s family urges Hope residents to check dashcam, photos to help find her killer

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Restrictions will lift once 75% of Canadians get 1 shot and 20% are fully immunized, feds say

Federal health officials are laying out their vision of what life could look like after most Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19

Most Read