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COAST SALISH TERRITORY (Vancouver, BC) – November 23, 2020 -- With the continued impacts of COVID-19 ravaging the global tourism Industry, the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) has put out an urgent call to the federal government for a new dedication of financial funding in the amount of $18.5M to support Indigenous tourism businesses or risk watching the industry irrevocably collapse.

With international borders still closed and health units across the country once again limiting domestic travel to prevent further spread of COVID-19, the Indigenous tourism industry has been especially affected. To date, based on research conducted with the Conference Board of Canada, ITAC is reporting a 65.9% decline in Canada’s direct gross domestic product (GDP) and an anticipated loss of over 1,000 Indigenous tourism businesses, affecting over 21,000 people and their families. 

“With many local businesses relying on tourism to survive, the initial funding provided by both the federal government and from ITAC directly has been paramount in keeping businesses afloat and keeping food on the table for many families until now,” said Keith Henry, President and CEO of ITAC. “This second wave is well ongoing and will continue to lead to the closure of even more of our establishments and institutions. These losses are not just another number; these are 1,000 Indigenous owned and operated businesses that support communities -- including rural and remote areas. On top of the financial loss, there is also a loss of heritage and culture, traditional languages, history and storytelling, and the awareness around reconciliation that we have fought so hard to preserve. It is imperative we do everything we can to protect these already at-risk communities from further impoverishment and save the industry, which is not only a significant driver in the Canadian economy as a whole but equally important, a portal into Canada’s culture and heritage. We implore the federal government to do everything they can to keep these communities and business alive and help us stabilize the progress we have made since the creation of ITAC.”

And while the federal government did provide initial COVID-relief funding in June in the sum of $16M, which supported over 600 Indigenous businesses across the country, those funds were only able to address the immediate needs of businesses to keep them open and cover expenses for the loss of the summer season. In order for the industry to withstand and build resiliency in the second wave, further funding is necessary. Therefore, on behalf of the industry, ITAC is working hard to help salvage the livelihoods of Canada’s Indigenous populations, whose businesses showcase the cultural experiences and diversity of the nation. 

ITAC is recommending another emergency investment of $18,535,000 in additional financial support to further stabilize the industry from more infrastructure and economic losses brought on by the second wave of the pandemic. These funds are to be distributed to Indigenous tourism businesses to be invested in tools (creating or updating online platforms, advertising, etc.) that will allow them to market their businesses, generate revenue and increase consumer traffic directly rather than relying on the Association’s support of the industry overall. It is crucial these funds be distributed immediately and dispersed through ITAC, which has a proven track record in administering multi-million dollar projects simultaneously and achievement in advancing Indigenous tourism in Canada through an Indigenous-led strategy.

The breakdown of ITAC’s second wave emergency response plan is as follows:

$6,000,000 in innovative domestic marketing to:

  • Create a new Indigenous travel incentive program
  • Launch domestic marketing campaigns to encourage Canadians to visit Indigenous tourism experiences close to home
  • Be a resource in coaching and training tourism operators to build out sales and marketing materials and virtual experiences

$12,075,000 in Wave 2 stimulus grants for:

  • Emergency stimulus access for Indigenous tourism businesses that did not access funds from the current program (approximately 150 businesses) and secondary funding for the 683 recipients of Wave 1 grants

$460,000 for the Indigenous Tourism Business Crisis Call Centre to:

  • Provide members with one-on-one help for businesses to identify and access federal relief initiatives and offer supports for mental health and industry relief
  • Provide emergency capacity support for provincial and territorial partners
  • Provide support to consumers and operators participating in the travel incentive program
  • Provide members with easy access to resources for marketing and business development

ITAC has been tireless in advocating for Indigenous-led solutions and stimulus grants and insists the only way the industry will survive is with additional federal investments. Earlier this year, ITAC also launched a four-year, $50 million strategic recovery planwith the goal to respond, recover and rebuild the Indigenous tourism industry across Canada to levels experienced in 2019 by 2024. The new call for federal funding is for additional funds above the $50M ask currently tabled and ITAC is still hoping to also receive funding from the Federal government for its Recovery Plan.

“We hope the government understands that the situation is more than serious, businesses are shutting down, operators are in distress. We need to support our operators from mental breakdown and help them access some of the federal programs, as they often fall through the cracks of the system,” says Henry. “Our Industry is resilient but there is a limit to what it can take. Our goal is to partner with the federal government and work together to the survival of our industry by having solutions to sustain businesses immediately and through the winter“

To view an infographic of ITAC’s Second Wave Response, click here

For more information on the ITAC’s COVID-19 Development Stimulus Fund, clickhere.

To view all of ITAC’s communications around COVID-19 and the resources available, click here.

 
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TORONTO (November 19, 2020) Choice Hotels Canada recently announced the national winners of its annual prestigious APEX Awards (Awards for Property Excellence). In the midst of a worldwide pandemic and its devastating effects on the industry, these 11 properties from across the country continued to stand out as top performers. The awards recognize stellar performance, ongoing commitment to guest service and operational excellence.

“This year has been unprecedented for the hospitality industry but despite the pandemic, our properties have continued to persevere and excel,” says Brian Leon, president, Choice Hotels Canada. “Because of everything going on in the world, we feel it’s more important than ever to applaud our top performers, who continue to raise standards in hospitality excellence through these most difficult times.”

 

The 2020 national APEX winners include:

  • Highest Guest Satisfaction (Top LTR): Rodeway Inn, Pikogan, QC

This award recognizes the property that achieved the highest Likelihood to Recommend (LTR) score in Choice Hotels’ guest survey results over the last year.

 

  • Highest Choice Privileges Elite Recognition: Comfort Inn, Sturgeon Falls, ON

This award recognizes the property that has achieved the highest Elite Recognition score within Choice Hotel’s guest survey over the last year.

 

  • Highest Choice Privileges Enroller Rate: Comfort Inn Airport West, Mississauga, ON

This award recognizes the property that has achieved the highest Choice Privileges conversion rate. The Choice Privileges conversion rate is calculated based on the total possible enrollments per available room in the last year. This property has won this distinction two years in a row.

 

  • Sales Excellence Award: Lisa Leroy, Comfort Inn & Suites, Airdrie, AB

This national award recognizes an individual who demonstrated outstanding sales efforts. The winner will have been quick to respond to local opportunities or those from Choice to capture incremental room nights, leverage tools and resources as well as engage with Global Sales Canada.

 

  • Renovation of the Year Award: Quality Suites, Whitby, ON

This award recognizes achievements in outstanding on-brand renovations that drove guest satisfaction increases.

 

  • Leader of the Year Award: Colleen Kendall, Comfort Inn, Halifax, NS

This peer-based award recognizes an individual, selected by the Choice Canada Franchise Advisory Board (CCFAB), whose achievements include outstanding operational practices or team building.

  • Developer of the Year Award: Harinder Brar, whose current projects under development in Ontario include the Quality Inn & Suites in Thunder Bay, Comfort Inn & Suites in Bradford, Comfort Inn & Suites in Cochrane, and the Comfort Inn & Suites in Carleton Place. 
  • Best New Entry – New Build Mid-Market Brands: Comfort Inn & Suites, Goderich, ON

 Best New Entry – Conversion Mid-Market Brands: Quality Inn Centre-Ville, Montreal, QC

 Best New Entry – Economy Brands: Rodeway Inn, Edson, AB

 Best New Entry – Ascend Hotel Collection: Le Noranda Hotel & Spa, Rouyn-Noranda, QC

 
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WASHINGTON (November 18, 2020)With a resurgence of COVID-19 and renewed travel restrictions enacted in many states, a new survey of American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) members shows that the hotel industry will continue to face devastation and significant job loss without additional relief from Congress.

Seven in ten hoteliers (71%) said they won’t make it another six months without further federal assistance given current and projected travel demand, and 77% of hotels report they will be forced to lay off more workers. Without further government assistance (i.e. second PPP loan, expansion of Main Street Lending Program), nearly half (47%) of respondents indicated they would be forced to close hotels. More than one-third of hotels will be facing bankruptcy or be forced to sell by the end of 2020.

Chip Rogers, president and CEO of AHLA, urged Congress to move quickly during the lame duck session to pass additional relief measures.


“Every hour Congress doesn’t act hotels lose 400 jobs. As devastated industries like ours desperately wait for Congress to come together to pass another round of COVID-19 relief legislation, hotels continue to face record devastation. Without action from Congress, half of U.S. hotels could close with massive layoffs in the next six months,” said Rogers.

 

“With a significant drop in travel demand and seven in 10 Americans not expected to travel over the holidays, hotels will face a difficult winter. We need Congress to prioritize the industries and employees most affected by the crisis. A relief bill would be a critical lifeline for our industry to help us retain and rehire the people who power our industry, our communities and our economy.”

AHLA conducted the survey of hotel industry owners, operators, and employees from November 10-13, 2020, with more than 1,200 respondents. Key findings include the following:

  • More than 2/3 of hotels (71%) report that they will only be able to last six more months at current projected revenue and occupancy levels absent any further relief, with one-third (34%) saying they can only last between one to three more months
  • 63% of hotels have less than half of their typical, pre-crisis staff working full time
  • 82% of hotel owners say they have been unable to obtain additional debt relief, such as forbearance, from their lenders beyond the end of this year
  • 59% of hotel owners said that they are in danger of foreclosure by their commercial real estate debt lenders due to COVID-19, a 10% increase since September
  • 52% of respondents stated their hotel(s) will close without additional aid
  • 98% of hoteliers would apply for and utilize a second draw Paycheck Protection Program loan

The hotel industry was the first impacted by the pandemic and will be one of the last to recover. Hotels are still struggling to keep their doors open and unable to rehire all their staff due to the historic drop in travel demand. According to STR, nationwide hotel occupancy was 44.2% for the week ending November 7, compared to 68.2% the same week last year. Occupancy in urban markets is just 34.6%, down from 79.6% one year ago.

A recent national consumer surveycommissioned by AHLA shows that many Americans are not expected to travel this holiday season. Seventy-two percent (72%) of Americans said they were unlikely to travel for Thanksgiving and 69% were unlikely to travel for Christmas. Meanwhile, business and group travel are not expected to return to peak 2019 levels until 2023, compounding the challenges for the hotel industry during this public health crisis.

 
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Haliburton, Ontario (November 17, 2020) – Choice Hotels Canada is thrilled to announce that the Pinestone Resort, a rustic lodge and conference centre in the Haliburton Highlands, has joined the Ascend Hotel Collection®. The fast-growing Ascend Hotel Collection is a network of upscale resorts, historic properties and boutique hotels that offer guests a uniquely local experience. This architectural gem, with upcoming renovation and design by Chamberlain Architects, was conceived with its natural surroundings in mind, making it casually elegant and welcoming.

We are delighted to have such a beautiful hotel and talented owners, the Aurora Group, join the Ascend Hotel Collection,” says Rob Alldred, Director of Membership Development, Ascend Hotel Collection at Choice Hotels Canada. “It is a truly special experience as a retreat in the heart of cottage country.”

The Aurora Group is a family-owned company with extensive experience in hospitality and management. The company has grown rapidly over the past few years and is actively engaged in new project development in North America. 

This full-service hotel and conference centre offers meeting and event space, a golf course, indoor and outdoor swimming pools and a spa. The resort is set on 160 acres of beautiful country landscapes in the Haliburton Highlands. The hotel consists of 102 rooms, suites, and chalets. The owners will be renovating the hotel over the next couple of years. 

Planned renovations are in keeping with the architectural elements and exposing natural features, with a focus on the interior public spaces. The choice of textures such as exposed wood, stone and brick will add character to all the spaces, and the natural colour palate will create an appearance of warmth to the overall aesthetic.

The Haliburton Highlands is a county in Central Ontario, known as a tourist and cottage area. The lakes and rivers in the area dominate, but there is also a thriving arts and cultural scene. In the summer, visitors can hike around the lakes, go fishing, golfing, take an ATV or go riding on horseback around trails in the area. During the winter months, cross country skiing, downhill skiing, and snowmobiling are popular.

                               

Haliburton is about a three hour drive from Ottawa and two hours from Toronto. The Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Park is also a nearby tourist attraction.  There is a thriving local trade in arts, crafts and antiques, and cinema fans will love the annual Haliburton International Film Festival each summer.

 
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Markham, Ontario, November 17, 2020Maestro, hospitality’s most trusted provider of property-management systems for independent and luxury resorts, conference centers, vacation rentals, and multi-property groups, is nearing completion of a portfolio-wide version upgrade of its latest Browser and Windows Versions. The provider offers complete flexibility to deploy it’s feature identical Browser PMS Suite of solutions either cloud-hosted, self-hosted, in your own private cloud or on-premise, and  embarked on a mission in early 2020 to ensure that its 900 hotel customers were equipped with the latest mobile and contactless software tools, as well as security enhancements to better manage the challenges they are facing entering the new year.

Maestro PMS Version 5.5 includes a curbside check-in tool utilizing mobile tablet devices to streamline registration and socially distance staff from guests, and guests from each other … a web/mobile/kiosk/iPad self check-in module with mobile key integration, express mobile check-out, electronic reg card with signature capture, mobile spa provider schedule, mobile intake and waiver forms, and eSignature document management to limit staff interaction with guests and remove high-touch physical documents … a mobile housekeeping app that protects staff by controlling the availability of rooms and setting a 48-hour time gap between the time a guest departs and the next guest arrives … mobile payment integration … mobile task management … and a Guest Engagement Measurement (GEM) tool that provides access to relevant guest feedback, intelligence and insights to encourage operational excellence, meaningful differentiation, and a sustainable competitive advantage.

“Maestro has always included FREE upgrades as part of our Diamond Plus service, but never have we launched a mass deployment in such a short amount of time,” said Warren Dehan, Maestro President. “It’s not uncommon for there to be three or four different versions of Maestro operating in the market at one time. Not everyone is eager to upgrade; they are happy with the versions they are running and if they’re happy, we’re happy. But even before COVID, we felt it was time to get everyone on the same version to make operators more competitive and meet the growing demands of today’s mobile guests. When the pandemic hit, it just pushed our efforts along. Everyone knew the low occupancy was the ideal time to get their operations in order, and that included updating their PMS’s to support travelers’ contactless demands and ensure that they were PCI and GDPR compliant.”

Dehan explained that a large-scale roll-out can be extremely challenging, encompassing many factors to be taken into consideration, including training, impact on interfaces, and ensuring that all property staff are ready for the operational improvements of the upgrade. He said all customers were eager to make the transition, and through consultation, orientation and planning, each roll out was a success.

“From our founding 43 years ago, our No. 1 goal has always been to provide solutions that make independent hoteliers’ lives easier,” Dehan said. “Our intent behind this portfolio-wide version upgrade is to ensure that our customers are safe and that they have the latest software needed to manage any challenge they will be facing in the days, weeks, even months to come. With Maestro, hoteliers get a mature and stable Browser Solution as well as the option for the Windows solution supported by a modern database, better integration to the OTAs, exceptional revenue management capabilities, and the latest touchless technologies and 3rd party integrations that will reduce or eliminate the need for physical contact between guests and staff.”

2021: The Year of PMS?

The PMSis and always will be the heartbeat of hotel data. It is where traveler information is centralized. The core system knows who guests are and what they prefer, how much they spend and where they spend it, where they stay and for how long, and what they like to do on their birthdays and anniversaries. As hoteliers prepare for recovery, they will need the most robust, feature rich and innovative PMS to support the many contactless technologies needed to maximize guest engagement when travel resumes.

“The fall season is a time of giving thanks, and we at Maestro are extremely thankful for the hundreds of independent hotel customers that rely on Maestro each day,” Dehan said. “The way we show our gratitude is through our Diamond Plus service offering, of which free complete version upgrades is just one small part. We hope that Maestro’s 24/7 call center; on demand live one-on-one training; in application instant live chat; online user guides, tutorials, direct email support; complimentary live learning webinars; e-Learning user website; and professional productivity audits also speak volumes to how much we appreciate their business — a relationship that we nurture for the long term.

“Exactly what the new year has in store for the hotel industry is uncertain, but with all the operational enhancements needed to ensure travelers that hotels are safe and ready for their return, 2021 may turn out to be the ‘Year of PMS,’” he said. “Just as we helped our customers prepare their core system for the downturn, we stand ready today to help them ramp up for the recovery that is ahead. To all, ‘thank you.’ Maestro is here for you now and always.”

 

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