In the middle of pandemic, tourism is trying to find out new direction

Published on : Saturday, November 21, 2020

During pandemic, the tourism sector has been functioning, if it all could be said, with both arms tied behind its back.

Tourism Regina expects help via Thursday’s Collaborate and Connect conference — an educational and networking event that showcases guest speakers from different tourism branches.

For the first time, the third annual conference will be organized virtually, providing local stakeholders a chance to share experiences as well as ideas from distance.

“The goal is to bring people together,” said Tourism Regina’s Ashley Stone, whose industry has been devastated by COVID restrictions and gathering limits.

The rising cases are making it difficult to see a light at the tunnel’s end.
“The rate of (economic) recovery is just so unknown at this point,” continued Stone. “Being able to be future-focused is quite difficult. Festivals are trying to plan events for the summer of 2021 or attractions are trying to open and stay open to welcome regional and local visitors. There are some industries that are coming back slowly and have adapted but there’s some with the current restrictions that aren’t able to move forward without substantial changes.” The hotels have been hit the most hardest way.

In fact, a return to business as usual could be “a fair ways down the road,” says Jim Kilkenny, general manager of the Delta Hotel by Marriott in Regina.

“It’s certainly unprecedented,” said Kilkenny, calculating the fact that hotels are operating at 15 to 30 per cent of previous levels. “The last eight months have really tested our industry as a whole. We were the first and the deepest hit and are likely going to be the last to emerge.”

Recent development toward COVID vaccines, there is a growing sense of optimism.

“As an industry we need to be looking at the immediate (challenges) and the short and long term,” said Kilkenny. “There’s an opportunity to connect with others in the industry to share some of their experiences and how we prepare ourselves for recovery.”

“I’m really looking forward to hearing some of the ideas that may come forward, whether it’s partnering opportunities or collaboration. (It helps) you realize that you’re not alone in this situation.”

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