Pandemic restrictions mean no Christmas party revenue for Manitoba hotels

It’s a rough holiday season for Manitoba’s hotels.

With code red pandemic restrictions in effect, bookings have taken a drastic drop and a big seasonal moneymaker at many hotels — Christmas parties —  is looking like it’ll come up with a big zero this year.

Scott Jocelyn of the Manitoba Hotel Association says hotels in downtown Winnipeg, usually hotspots for parties, are getting hit particularly hard, at an estimated 80 per cent vacancy — and there’s a trickle-down effect.

Read more: Manitoba health officials expected to discuss coronavirus modelling at Friday briefing

“Most of my members are dealing with lots of challenges right now,” Jocelyn told 680 CJOB.

“The big accommodation properties that are (usually) putting lots of rooms through that have the really big ballrooms… and the smaller neighbourhood hotels. They would have the pub going, the VLTs on, the restaurant that everybody likes to go to, Christmas parties, etc.”

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Jocelyn said the frustration extends through tourism-related industries in general, as the pandemic means a dearth of visitors looking to spend money in the city.

“Anything tourism… there’d be lots of of people that would be travelling into the city, and they’re going to make it a weekend, and they’re going to do their shopping, and maybe there’s an event tied in.

“With everything we’re dealing with right now, we can’t do those things… and obviously we’re incredibly challenged.”

Read more: Canada will have vaccine infrastructure in place around ‘Christmas,’ 1st doses in January

The Manitoba government imposed restrictions on public gatherings and business openings three weeks ago, and the daily number of new cases has started to drop in recent days.

The province’s chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, said this week the daily cases and hospitalization rates are still too high and some restrictions will remain in place beyond when they are set to expire Dec. 11.

Roussin said Thursday health officials are still working on exactly what the next round of restrictions will look like.

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