Canada set to lose millions of tourism dollars due to COVID-19: Joly

Canada is already projected to lose millions of dollars in tourism revenue to COVID-19, says Tourism Minister Melanie Joly.

In an interview on CTV's Question Period, Joly said that Canada's tourism sector is already feeling the impact of reduced tourism, and is projecting millions of dollars in lost revenue by the summer.

Joly, who spent time in Vancouver and Victoria this past week, said she saw the impact of Chinese tourism to Canada already declining, as a result of COVID-19.

She said that Chinese tourists visiting Canada amounts for an average of $2 billion in tourism revenue each year, and the current downturn is forecasted to result in a loss of $550 million by June.

As well, with more and more coronavirus cases being confirmed in European destinations, Joly said she's anticipating Canadian airline carriers will also be feeling the impacts of fewer tourists travelling abroad.

In response, and in an effort to support the Canadian tourism sector, Joly said that after meeting with Destination Canada—the federal agency focused on promoting Canadian travel—some short term changes are coming to their strategy due to the global spread of novel coronavirus.

Among the measures being taken: the government is going to be encouraging Canadians to explore their own country, diverting tourism promotion dollars towards domestic travel instead of continuing to target big international markets like China.

Compounded with Global Affairs Canada's rolling updates on travel advisories, ministers suggesting that international travel is risky and major travel insurers no longer covering trip cancellations, Joly is encouraging Canadian vacationers to "please think of Canada."

"We have a big and beautiful country, and it is the best way to support our small and medium sized businesses all across the country, by travelling it," Joly said.

Though, the number of cases within Canada are rising and the federal government continues to face questions over why more strict travel restrictions or quarantines for returning travellers haven’t yet been imposed.

Joly said for now, the government is increasing the information travellers receive when crossing the border and that's suitable for the current risk level for contracting COVID-19 in Canada, which remains low.