Hotel, B&B industry has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic

by | Apr 8, 2021 | News

Many bed and breakfast businesses are struggling to survive since the onset of COVID-19.

Some of the businesses have temporarily closed the operations while some others have completely stopped business over fears of the coronavirus pandemic.

A survey reports the hotel industry has seen a decrease in the most important key performance indicators: occupancy, revenue and per day rate because of the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

It showed in the week ending Feb. 6, Canadian hotels had an occupancy of 23.6 per cent, a yearly drop of 57.8 per cent. The report indicated a decrease in average daily room rates to $105.48, an annual drop of 28.7 per cent from 2020.

But while almost all say COVID-19 has hurt the industry in one or another, a motel owner said the pandemic hasn’t done much to stem his business.

Jerry Kucharchuk, the manager of Peninsula Resort Motel Suites along Lake Simcoe in Pefferlaw, Ont., said the pandemic hasn’t been detrimental to his operation.

“It not really affected us as we are able to operate and also because April is a slow month,” he said. “We are open, we are doing business, basically everything is the same because we are deemed essential.”

“We had business because people wanted to come to the beach and our property is unique as it is nestled on the shores of Lake Simcoe,” Kucharchuk said. “We were not busy as normal but we didn’t have to shut down.”

However, Shannon Wiebe, the owner of Somerset Bed and Breakfast, a private retreat, on iconic Front Street in Niagaraonthe-Lake, Ont., said bed and breakfast businesses have been one of the worst hit amid pandemic.

She said the entire season from April until September is usually the busiest time for her business as it used to be swarmed with people. Nearly 60 per cent of her clientele are Americans but because of the border lockdown there has been no business.

“My business is down 80 per cent and I’ve received zero assistance unless I decide to pull out a loan,” she said. “And without customers I don’t foresee the ability to reimburse or repay any further loans.”

“With another shut down on its way, I am federally mandated to close my doors. Every family owned restaurant on the street is required to be closed we are all just dumb struck and flabbergasted,” Wiebe said.

Patty Pitnuik, the owner of Creighton Manor Inn Bed and Breakfast in Orillia, Ont., said seniors over 65 years of age are adhering to the lockdown as they haven’t all been vaccinated.

She said there are a lot of city folks who want to come to the retreat but they put health on the line first.

Pitnuik said they are not getting any support from the government. The bed and breakfast business does not qualify for the grants and funding available as this type of business are private family homes and not commercial establishments.

“Our business is hurting as the Casino Rama Resort (a commercial gambling and entertainment centre) that hosts a variety of stars has temporarily closed,” Pitnuik said. “And the Mariposa Festival auditorium has been shut down for more than a year, cutting into my trade.”

“We are in proximity to both of these things, and we are not getting the traffic anymore because the casino is closed and the shows are not operating,” she said.

Howard Kudlats, the owner of Historic Lyons House Bed & Breakfast, on Centre Street in Niagara-on-the-Lake, said there are no reservations and no business. They are looking for help but nothing is coming to the bed and breakfast industry.

“I don’t know how I am going to last, I may have to sell,” Kudlets said. “The government is not helping with grants or funding trade facilities because they are looking at bed and breakfast as a personal home business.

“Sixty-five per cent of our clientele is American and with the border closures I am losing money everyday, it’s a huge loss to my business,” he said.

Kudlets said his establishment also was forced closed because of the lockdowns — including the recent return to gray — and “we decided not to open till we are vaccinated.”

The federal and provincial governments are offering help to the hotel industry through the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability (HASCAP) Program. This type of grant is only available to the commercial establishments and not the personal home businesses.

Pinkal Rana, a general manager with Knights Inn Orillia on West Street in Orillia, said the hotel business is one of the worst affected during COVID-19 pandemic.

“The pandemic and multiple lockdowns announced by the province has impacted on the occupancy and overall sales in a large manner and the foot flow is less than 50 per cent in the last 12 months,” Rana said.

“The provincial government has helped our business with different subsidies such as wage subsidy, rent subsidy at the intervals,” he said. “In the initial phase of COVID-19 pandemic the mortgage and different utility payments were deferred which helped us in surviving in April-August 2020.”

Anne Roberts, the owner of A Knight in Southampton Bed and Breakfast on Albert Street in Southampton, Ont., about 225 kilometres north of Toronto, said COVID-19 impacted her business “100 per cent.”

She said no amount of money, or assistance from the government, can remove the stress from wearing masks and the fear of transmitting virus from one guest to another.

“It is not going to go soon. We loved meeting the people we love sharing our home with them,” Roberts said. “A lot of people came back year after year and we loved it.”

“But it’s no longer the same because of the fear of spreading the virus,” she said. “It is completely changed now. We decided we can’t do it anymore and closed permanently because of the pandemic,” she said.