April 20, 2020

Expert Says Impact of COVID-19 On Travel and Tourism Industry Will be Worse than 9/11 and SARS

The impact of COVID-19 has been particularly disastrous for the travel and tourism industries. According to the the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), up to 50 million jobs in the travel and tourism sector are at risk due to the COVID-19 pandemic and global travel could be adversely impacted by up to 25% in 2020 -- equivalent to a loss of three months of global travel.

Zongqing Zhou, PhD, professor at the College of Hospitality and Tourism Management of Niagara University, says 

"the impact of COVID-19 is going to be more lasting and game-changing" for the country's airlines than even 9/11 and the previous SARS outbreak."

"In the case of 9/11, people felt safe enough to take part in everyday activities, including travel, as long as they witnessed active security measures," said Dr. Zhou

"In the case of SARS, it was not as deadly and contagious as COVID-19 and, importantly, there was a vaccine. As soon as SARS was defeated, people felt safe to travel again," said Dr. Zhou. 

"However, COVID-19 is different: it is much more contagious, more dangerous, more widespread, and there is no vaccine yet. Even after we pass the apex and the number of new cases is reduced to zero, people will still be conscious of a potential second wave. Travel would still be considered unsafe and people might still want to avoid crowds, inevitably prolonging the economic impact on the travel and tourism industries."

Dr. Zhou, who also serves as the president of the International Society of Travel and Tourism Educators (ISTTE), says  although it is hard to predict how long international travel restrictions will be in place as the rate of new COVID-19 infections decreases, he believes we can look at China and the city of Wuhan as a guideline.

"I believe all countries should study China's experience closely and implement similar measures," says Dr. Zhou. "The city of Wuhan was locked down for more than two months -- 76 days to be exact -- along with the rest of China.

"Before reopening Wuhan, other cities in China started to loosen their travel restrictions to allow people to go back to work. However, the country also placed tight restrictions on incoming international visitors, implementing a procedure of temperature checking, and 14-day quarantine periods before any visitor could freely enter China. In addition, China only allowed direct international flights to safe cities and destinations, avoiding transfers to reduce the chances of virus contamination during transit."

Despite the bleak outlook, all hope is not lost. In fact, Dr. Zhou says "the travel and tourism industry is the critical player in re instituting the sense of safety and security in the minds of the travelers and customers."

Dr. Zhou outlined a few measures he would take if he were the CEO of a travel, tourism, or hospitality company:

  1. Hire a "CSO": Chief Safety Officer. This CSO must be an expert in public health and public security.
  2. Make public safety and security the centerpiece of management, marketing and promotion.
  3. Provide assurances that all customers will be well-protected within its properties or destinations, such as providing free or next to free masks, sanitation equipment, and local hospital connections if needed.
  4. Create innovative programs and events focusing on social distancing, such as "controlled crowd traveling", private group traveling, family traveling, limited group size tours, and special, small group dining experiences.
  5. Add "crisis forbearance" to the loyalty program. Loyal program customers are automatically protected from any losses due to a crisis like COVID-19. For example, any booked flight, hotel, tour, meal, or cruise will be automatically refunded or extended for at least another year based on customers' preferences.

"COVID-19 is certainly going to be a game changer for the travel and tourism industry," says Dr. Zhou. "Those who can learn from this experience and implement changes in the future will be the winners; those who keep doing the same old business will be left in the dust."


(TORONTO, ON - April 2nd, 2020) – Today, the Windsor Arms Hotel, in partnership with Cerise Fine Catering, delivered 500 boxed lunches to first responders at Michael Garron Hospital in Toronto, with an additional 1,000 snacks prepared for the University Health Network to support health care professionals on the frontline battling the COVID-19 crisis.

First responders and health care professionals will be delivered a free boxed meal designed by Executive Chef, Shawn Whalen of Cerise Fine Catering. Whalen is 1 of 5 Master Chefs in Canada and the only one in Toronto. 

 “As COVID-19 continues to spread globally, those not involved in the medical field may feel an inability to help. The Windsor Arms Hotel and Cerise Fine Catering wanted to do our part in supporting first responders through this challenging time,” said George Friedmann - President of Windsor Arms Hotel. 

“We’re proud to help the city combat this crisis by providing our brave medical professionals with a meal or snack so that they can focus on what’s most important saving lives," remarked Mateus de Campos – General Manager of Cerise Fine Catering


Phoenix, Arizona (March 20, 2020) –In the face of the biggest economic crisis the hotel industry has ever faced, Best Western Hotels & Resorts (BWHR) is taking steps to ease the financial burden for its hoteliers during this challenging time.

Committed to its loyal BWHR family and understanding the tremendous hardship COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is having on its hoteliers, their employees and their families, BWHR’s Board of Directors and Executive Team have implemented unprecedented measures to afford its hotel owners (members) much-needed relief through May 2020. These measures include:

  • Waiving one half (1/2) of Monthly Fees.
  • Waiving one-half (1/2) of Property Revenue Management Fees.
  • Reducing Best Western Rewards® (BWR®) loyalty point fees charged to members by one-half without lowering points awarded to loyalty program participants.
  • Increasing by 50% hotel redemption compensation for BWR loyalty guest stays.
  • Waiving in entirety BWHR co-op marketing fees.

Recognizing the debilitating impact on hotel revenue and the immediate need to conserve use of capital, BWHR is delaying certain fees until November. The company will also offer extensions to its members related to BWHR’s various programs, enabling hotels to focus on the health and welfare of their guests, associates, families and communities. 

Of note, recognizing that BWHR is a family that unequivocally supports one another through difficult challenges, the company’s Board of Directors and Executive Team voluntarily reduced their compensation by 20%.

“I am proud that our Board of Directors and Executive Team have implemented measures that will provide immediate relief to our hoteliers,” said Peter Kwong, Chairman of the Board, BWHR. “In the coming weeks as this crisis unfolds, we will continue to listen to the voice of our hoteliers and respond to their struggles in meaningful ways.”

“The impact of this global pandemic has been devastating to the livelihood of our hoteliers, their families, and the employees who depend on them,” said David Kong, President and CEO, BWHR. “At BWHR, we are truly a family that stands together, shoulder to shoulder, during a time of crisis. In coming together, not only will BWHR weather this storm, but our nation and industry will emerge stronger than ever.”

BWHR has also extended support to its valued guests by protecting the elite status of its BWR members. All BWR members worldwide have been granted elite status extension through January 2022 without needing to fulfill the necessary qualifications. Status will be maintained for all members regardless of their current tier, ensuring both new and veteran members are protected at this time. BWR is the only industry loyalty program where points never expire, meaning members are not impacted by unpredictable circumstances that could prevent them from using their hard-earned points.

Additionally, BWHR has amended its cancellation policy to afford more flexibility to those whose travel plans may have been impacted by COVID-19. Effective through April 30, 2020, guests with existing reservations for any future travel date may cancel with 24 hours’ notice for a full refund.

To learn more about BWHR, visit:


April 7, 2020

Dear Members,

Last week we shared with you that on Friday, the Prime Minister announced the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, which is designed to subsidize 75 per cent of wages for “qualifying businesses.”

Monday, qualifying businesses were defined and includes ALL hotels small, medium, and large, as long as their revenues have decreased by 30 per cent as a result of COVID-19.

The subsidy will cover 75 per cent on the first $58,700 of a person’s wages and it will be backdated to March 15.

We will update you as soon as additional information on access to the subsidy is available.

Summary of the week’s advocacy announcements:

Deferred GST & HST payments, duties and taxes on imports until June 2020

  • This is equivalent of providing up to $30 billion in interest-free loans to Canadian businesses. 
  • Deferred payments to allow businesses to have more liquidity on hand to survive the financial impact of COVID-19.
  • Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy - up 75% of wages

    • The government’s previously announced wage subsidy of 10% has been increased to 75%. Qualifying businesses will include all hotels that have seen a 30 per cent decline in revenue. 
    • CEWS will cover 75% of first $58,700 of workers’ salaries, or up to $847/week.
    • This subsidy will be available for up to three months and retroactive until March 15, 2020, allowing members to keep or potentially re-hire laid off staff. 

    New Access to Credit through Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Loan and Guarantee program 

    • The government announced $12.5 billion of additional support and access to credit through EDC and BDC to help small and medium-sized enterprises with cashflow requirements through the new small and medium-sized Enterprise Loan and Guarantee program. 
    • Businesses can apply for a guaranteed loan through their banking institution to access this additional financial support. 
    Loans of up to $6.25 million will be made available to small and medium-sized businesses in Canada directly through their financial institutions.
  • Canada Emergency Business Account

    • Banks will offer $40,000 loans, guaranteed by the government, to qualifying small businesses and loans will be interest-free for the first year. Qualifying businesses must have payrolls of greater than $50,000 and less than $1 million.
    • If certain conditions are met, a 25% loan forgiveness will be available (up to $10,000).
    • Loans will be available through eligible financial institutions and will be fully guaranteed and funded by the Government of Canada.

    We continue to work hand in hand with our Provincial and Federal Associations to ensure we can represent our industry with a clear message and one voice. 


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