The virtual 2021 BC Tourism and Hospitality Conference meets virtually March 8 to 12.

The virtual 2021 BC Tourism and Hospitality Conference meets virtually March 8 to 12.

B.C. tourism sector targets ‘Mission Possible’ during virtual conference

Tourism Industry Association of BC and the BC Hotel Association co-host conference March 8 to 12

As members of British Columbia’s travel industry gather virtually this week for the 2021 BC Tourism and Hospitality Conference, the message is one of resiliency and hope, but also of the vast work still to come in the wake of COVID-19.

Co-hosted by the Tourism Industry Association of BC and the BC Hotel Association March 8 to 12, the theme of this year’s conference is Mission Possible, referencing the resilience and overall tenacity the industry has demonstrated.

Joining industry leaders from across the province are representatives of government, local businesses and organizations, exploring topics ranging from the economic impact of COVID and possible ways forward to how Indigenous Tourism BC is transforming marketing and destination development efforts to support reconciliation.

COVID’s impact on travel and hospitality is exacerbated by the length of time businesses have been – and continue to be – impacted.

“Tourism in Canada was first hit, the hardest hit and will be the last to recover,” said Marsha Walden, President & CEO of Destination Canada.

In research released earlier this week, the organization noted that “the current situation facing the tourism sector is the worst ever seen, more dire than the impact experienced after 9/11, SARS and the 2008 economic crisis combined.”

While the industry has seen a number of positives, including various government programs and a collaborative approach among stakeholders, governments and others, segments like the hotel sector remained concerned about the year ahead.

Susie Grynol, President & CEO of the Hotel Association of Canada, said factors like the vaccination timeline will play a role in her sector’s potential recovery in addition to ongoing limitations for international, convention and business travel.

Overall, business travel is expected to have a much slower recovery than leisure travel, partially because people have become comfortable with technology like video conferencing, and partly because businesses may take a conservative approach to having staff travel, several speakers noted.

Further, some who lost their jobs during the pandemic may not return, having found work in other sectors, Walden said. That could prove challenging as the industry looks to return to pre-COVID activity.

Still, people are looking forward to a brighter outlook for spring and summer, with the ongoing vaccination announcements buoying hope that the world will return to some sense of “normal.”

And B.C., which weathered COVID relatively well compared to other provinces, is poised for forecasted economic growth of about 4.2 per cent in 2021, according to the Business Council of British Columbia.

The council’s Jock Finlayson also noted that Canadians have been saving during the pandemic. He cited a recent CIBC survey that found that 36 per cent of households with an annual income above $100,000 indicated that travel is the No. 1 thing they would spend those savings on, once permitted.

The assumption is that travel will open within British Columbia first, before gradually broadening to other provinces and territories, then to North American and international travel.

However, the overall recovery of the industry is expected to take several years.

As the sector enters year two of COVID restrictions, Walden underscored the importance domestic travellers can have in that recovery.

If Canadians shift two-thirds of their planned international leisure travel dollars toward domestic tourism, it can make up for the estimated $19 billion shortfall currently facing the visitor economy, help sustain 150,000 jobs and accelerate recovery by one year.

Conference sessions continue through this week. To learn more about this year’s conference, visit bctourismandhospitalityconference.com

British ColumbiaTourism

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health nurses administer Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News)
69 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The total number of cases in the region is now at 9,840 since the pandemic began

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
Interior Health hospitals not strained by rising COVID case counts

While provincial hospitalizations rise, health care systems in the B.C. Interior remain robust, say officials

BC CDC data showing the geographic distribution of COVID cases in the province. (BC CDC photo)
One new case of COVID-19 in Golden

Cases continue to surge in surrounding areas

The Golden Golf Club will open for a new season on the links beginning April 24. (Claire Palmer photo)
Golden Golf club eyes April 24 start

The golf course is supporting local businesses with the driving range and mini-golf

An Interior Health nurse administers Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16, 2021. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News)
105 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

Just over 8,000 new vaccine doses administered in the region for a total of 158,000 to date

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

The plane blasted through an airport fence and down a hill, before stopping before a cement barrier on Highway 5A, right in front of a school bus. Photo submitted.
Student pilot crashes plane onto Highway 5A in Princeton

Aircraft hit pavement right in front of school bus

Vernon Fire Rescue Services responded to a truck fire on Dallas Road in Vernon April 15, 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Vernon Morning Star)
WATCH: Vernon firefighters quick to douse fully involved truck fire

The fire was near multiple structures and spreading along the ground upon crews’ arrival

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

The corner of 96th Avenue and Glover Road in Fort Langley now has traffic signals, and new “touchless” signal activation buttons. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Busy Fort Langley intersection gets ‘touchless’ crosswalk signals

The new traffic light started operation in April

Fire crews tend to a collision that is causing severe traffic delays on the William R. Bennett bridge headed east into Kelowna. (Aaron Hemens - Kelowna Capital News)
7 vehicle collision on WR Bennett Bridge under investigation

The collision backed up traffic on the William R. Bennett bridge for much of the morning

Kelowna company celebrates milestone of producing 46 million masks in under a year.
46 million masks and counting: Kelowna company reaches 1 year milstone

In under a year, Breathe Manufacturing Ltd. in Kelowna has hit production of 46 million masks for front-line workers

The organizer of a Kelowna protest against COVID-19 restrictions was fined by the RCMP for the third time Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. (File photo)
Kelowna RCMP investigating hit and run involving 11-year-old

Police said the boy suffered minor injuries

Most Read