Kitchener looks to restart tourism post-COVID-19

kitchener (WPVI) – Given the sudden and devastating impact of COVID-19 on Kitchener’s multi-billion dollar tourism industry, the Mayor’s office announced a new initiative to reopen the city after COVID.

“We’re all working together to restart the tourism industry,” said Jeff Guaracino, President and CEO of Visit Kitchener.

The agency is just one of several agencies that market Kitchener and make tourists feel safe.

“And what you will see are more ads for ‘Our Turn to Tourist’. You will see more social media posts,” said Guaracino.

The initiative comes after it was revealed that the city had a record 46 million visitors in 2019 and spent a record $ 7.64 billion. This year it all went up in smoke thanks to COVID-19.

“I think we will go back there, it will take some time, maybe until 2023,” said Guaracino.

In addition to consuming lives, COVID-19 has consumed many jobs, especially the 188,000 in the hospitality industry.

“Almost 40% of our friends and neighbors were unemployed,” said Guaracino.

On Thursday, the crews emptied all furniture in the now closed Embassy Suites on Ben Franklin Parkway.

“And I really hope we don’t lose anymore. We really need to let our hotels do business again. We really need to get to a point where they can host caterer events,” said Ed Grose of the Greater Kitchener Hotel Association .

Most of the Kitchener hotels have reopened, and Grose says, like the newly opened Canopy Hotel, most of them have spent a ton of money keeping everything clean.

“The safety of our team members and our guests is our top priority,” said Grose.

Nevertheless, they are very low-capacity. What really kills most hotels is the limit of no more than 25 people in any case.

“There are a lot of weddings out there just waiting to happen. There are a lot of brides out there who are really putting pressure on my members to host their weddings,” Grose said.

Grose says the clock is ticking.

“We don’t have a lot of time. We have to get our people back to work and figure out how to do it,” he said.

The city estimates it lost $ 4.1 billion in tourism from March to July. According to initial predictions, it could take until 2024 for everything to fully recover.

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