A Hope motel has been getting cancellations every day recently, all for the same reason — the COVID-19 pandemic.
Karen Cheung of the Hope City Centre Motel says one day they had as many as eight cancellations, all due to one local event being cancelled.
“Small businesses are always the hardest hit during difficult times,” she said.
Cheung wants to remind locals to continue to support local businesses, that are likely seeing a drop in tourism dollars at an already difficult financial time of year. Not only is it tax time, with sometimes large tax bills to deal with, but it’s also a common time for businesses to pay the bulk of their bills, she says.
“The timing of COVID-19 couldn’t be worse,” she said. “Please continue to shop, eat, and play in Hope, supporting local during this time.”
She makes the suggestion of even buying gift cards right now that could be used at a later date.
The Tourism Industry Association of B.C. has similar concerns, and has called on the government to intervene to “prevent a complete collapse of the visitor economy.”
A press release sent out March 16 cites massive travel cancellations, from flights and hotel bookings, to conferences and major closures of popular tourist attractions.
Manning Resort was among other major ski hills to announce they have suspended operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Tourism in British Columbia generates upwards of $19 billion in revenues annually through 19,000+ (small) businesses that employ over 330,000 people,” TIABC states. “The industry has enjoyed record- setting growth in recent years and has become the province’s third-largest business sector.”
On a smaller scale, there have been local concerns that the two major grocery stores in Hope won’t be able to handle Hope residents’ needs, particularly seniors or those who can’t afford to stock up.
But those in the grocery industry have also spoken up to let B.C. residents know that there is no reason to panic and that supplies will not run out. Locally, only certain items have seen shortages, but that is said to be from people overbuying, or even hoarding. Items like toilet paper, disinfectant wipes, some fresh foods, and canned items like soups have been hard to find at times.
“We are doing our best to keep our shelves full to keep everyone as happy as possible,” says Pauline Newbigging, store manager at Buy-Low Foods. That grocery chain will be implementing a plan to open their stores only to seniors for their first hour of operations each day, including at the Hope location.
At Save-On Foods in Hope, they have placed limits on certain items per customers, including milk.
There has also been some panic when it comes to COVID-19 itself. Many residents aren’t sure what to do if they start experiencing cold or flu symptoms, which are nearly identical to the novel coronavirus.
Those experiencing symptoms are asked not to go to the emergency room or to a doctor’s office. Instead, they are asked to call *811 or their doctor’s office for information about what to do next.
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