Montreal hotel owners fear for their business’ survival, ask province for help

MONTREAL (CITYNEWS) – Quebec tourism groups say COVID-19 has decimated an already struggling hotel industry in the greater Montreal area since the red alert was announced on Oct. 1.

The groups are asking the government for help to pay their fixed costs, otherwise they may not survive.

Some hotels say their occupancy rates have ranged between 5 to 10 per cent since March.

“There’s going to be a lot of hotels that will close,” said Adam Levine, an area sales manager. “Whether an independent hotel or a chain property, there’s no revenues coming in. Nobody is coming into the city.

“Montreal is the hub for this virus, for COVID, in Canada.”

The province of Quebec has reported more than 1,000 new cases for six of the last eight days.

“We’ve been named essential services, so we are not closed,” said Eve Pare of the Association of Hotels of Greater Montreal (AHGM). “We’re open for business, although all the measures prevent clients from getting to us.”

The tourism industry normally generates $4.5 billion every year for the Montreal economy.

But with a global pandemic forcing the country to shut its borders since March – and summer events getting cancelled as well – tourists aren’t visiting the city.

According to the AHGM, revenue from tourists has seen a drop of 95 per cent – a massive hit for hotel and other business owners.

“September, there was some hope that there would be a bit of business going on in the fall,” said Pare. “And all fell apart when we turned to orange. We saw all the cancellations happening. So when the red zone hit, everything was already being cancelled.

“The numbers have shown that one business out of two is not going to survive six months without any additional help from the government.”

The association estimates that thousands of workers in the hotel industry have lost their jobs, and a recovery will take years, if not decades.

“I’ve been furloughed since March, since the beginning” said Levine. “And we were hoping that by September that some of us would be called back. Because hotels have to start planning for 2021. But that’s not the case. Group events are being cancelled for 2021 and transferred to 2022 or 2023.”

The Quebec government announced a $750 million loan program for the industry back in June.