Dianna Ducs of Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism spoke with Nelson city council on April 20 with predictions of what COVID-19 will mean for local tourism. Photo: Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism

Tourism director presents sobering COVID-19 stats to Nelson council

Tourism won’t bounce back quickly after restrictions lifted, says Dianna Ducs

A 60 per cent drop in tourism to the region is expected for the coming year, according to the executive director of Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism at an April 20 city council meeting.

Dianna Ducs said about two per cent of hotel rooms in the Nelson area are occupied and that Nelson hotels and restaurants in the region, pre-COVID-19, employed an estimated 2,300 people.

She told council that her organization is not encouraging people to come to Nelson at the moment, but when the economy starts to recover it will encourage local travel.

“We will focus on a 200-to-400 kilometre radius and staying within Canada, initially. We are going to encourage people to travel close to home. We are not going to branch out into the U.S. right away – that is not on our radar. And we will monitor all of this because things change every week.”

She said her organization will promote the region, not just the city.

“We could encourage people to just do the loop, Nelson to North Kootenay Lake and over to the East Shore and down to Wynndel.”

When the economy opens up, growth will be slow.

“It is not going to spike right up,” Ducs said.

The business landscape in Nelson could look very different in the coming year, based on Ducs’ conversations with many business owners.

“If as many businesses that say they might not make it don’t make it, Baker Street will be pretty boarded up.”

Tourism organizations such as NKLT receive much of their funding from a provincial two per cent tax on hotels. Recently the province allowed hotels to defer these payments, but one of the results is impoverished tourism organizations. Ducs said NKLT won’t receive any payment until November and even then it will be very small.

Ducs said one of NKLT’s important activities currently is the printing and distribution of its Open For Business poster, displayed on the street by businesses that want to show they are open, printed large enough to see from a passing car.

She also said she is publicizing extraordinary actions and events in Nelson that are COVID-related, such as the Hume Hotel’s offering of free third-floor accommodation for health care workers.

“We would love for [potential future] visitors to notice it and then one day to say, ‘Hey, remember that hotel that did that really generous act?’”

City manager Kevin Cormack emphasized the importance of tourism to the B.C economy, quoting a report from the B.C. Economic Development Association.

The report states that tourism leads the province’s annual GDP at $9 billion, followed by mining at $4.9 billion, oil and gas at $3.7 billion, and forestry at $1.8 billion.

The report estimates that under a best-case scenario of lockdown until June and international travel restricted until the fall, accommodation across the province would decrease by 45 per cent, food services by 33 per cent, arts/entertainment/recreation by 60 per cent, and transit/scenic/sightseeing by 20 per cent.

Under a more likely scenario in which restaurants and bars were closed until late summer or fall, and international travel restricted until the end of 2020, those reductions would approximately double.

“These numbers are so sobering that they are hard to absorb,” Councillor Jesse Woodward said, echoing the reaction of Ducs and the other members of council.

Ducs said that regardless of what happens, her job is to educate local people, attract tourists for the future, and encourage local shopping.

“We will do whatever we can do help increase the amount of people that come through their shops in a safe way when it is appropriate to do so,” she said.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


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

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Four members of Nelson and District Women’s Centre board resign

Centre is closed during COVID-19 and is currently hiring an executive director

Reflecting on former Kootenay MLA Ed Conroy’s legacy

Former BC cabinet minister and Kootenay MLA Ed Conroy passed away June 26

Civic Theatre gets $2.7 million to add two more screens

The grant will allow two small theatres to be built in the back of the current auditorium

Salmo RCMP arrest three, seize $15,000

The three adult men have been charged with “Conspiracy to Commit an Offence.”

Nelson graduate student wins prestigious Vanier Scholarship

Sienna Drake, studying at McGill University, will receive $50,000 per year for the next three years

Police issue warning after baby comes across suspected drugs in Kamloops park

The 11-month-old girl’s mother posted photos on social media showing a small plastic bag containing a purple substance

Collision results in train derailment just east of Golden

The derailment occurred Sunday night, according to a statement from CP

Lower Mainland woman says llama farming neighbour shot her 11-month-old pup

Young dog was on owner’s Maple Ridge property when it was killed on June 21

B.C. records 31 new cases, six deaths over three days due to COVID-19

There are 166 active cases in B.C., 16 people in hospital

B.C. highway widening job reduced, costs still up $61 million

Union-only project scales back work to widen Trans-Canada

Greater Victoria nanny pleads guilty to child porn, sexual interference charges

Johnathon Lee Robichaud pleaded guilty to slew of sex crimes

Most Read