Last fall, when Hotelier assembled a group of hoteliers and industry analysts to be part of our annual Investment Roundtable, the hotel world was anticipating a strong fall, buoyed by the strength of its summer season. And, then October hit and the Omicron variant took hold, and the fall suddenly became a great deal more challenging.
This fall, with the pandemic starting to lessen its vice grip on the world, the hotel industry is feeling buoyant and optimistic. Recently, the government announced it would be making the ArriveCan app optional and would no longer require that visitors arriving from international destinations show proof of vaccination. Naturally, those two changes have been met with great approval from the hotel community, which had been lobbying for these changes for months.
While it’s clear the pandemic is far from over — despite U.S. President Biden’s assertion that it is — it does feel that we are moving back into some kind of normalcy. And, when you compare other countries around the world, Canada has lagged behind many in removing restrictions. In fact, many European countries dropped entry requirements before the summer but the U.S. still requires travellers coming into their country to be vaccinated. There is speculation the U.S. may drop those restrictions amidst the changes taking place in Canada.
Hoteliers hope the lifting of these restrictions will make the travel experience more seamless and simpler than it’s been in recent months, which will fuel greater number of tourists to the country. At Hotelier’s recent Investment Roundtable, low tourism numbers was one of the major concerns of the participants. As many stated, while leisure travel has been strong this past summer (and last), the number of international tourists and business travel is still anemic.
Many like Roz Winegrad, AVP, Owner and Franchise Services, Marriott Hotels, believe that making the travel process less cumbersome will be key in remedying that situation. “People still want to travel, they have the money to travel, businesses need to travel, associations that haven’t met for many years, that’s the source of their income, they need to meet.” Winegrad went on to say, as long “as we can keep the borders open, as long as we don’t start getting nervous about COVID or whatever is out there, we don’t change the restrictions, people will have more confidence that they can book. And we’re seeing that. As long as we don’t do anything to change the perspective that we’re back to business, that people can travel and people can meet, then I feel that we can weather some of the storms that we’re seeing brewing on the horizon.”