People walk across a street in Banff, Alta., in Banff National Park, Friday, July 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Chinese tourists cancel trips to Canadian hotspots such as Banff, Yellowknife

Tourism promoters in Banff and Lake Louise have seen minimal impact so far, are monitoring situation

Tour companies and hotels in destinations popular with Chinese tourists are starting to see cancellations after the coronavirus has led to mass quarantines and 170 deaths in China.

The World Health Organization on Thursday declared the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern.”

There are three confirmed cases in Canada and all are linked to recent travel in China.

Travel agencies in China have been told to halt all group tours, the state-owned China Daily newspaper reported, citing the China Association of Travel Services.

Travel Alberta, which works to promote tourism to the province, said it is hearing about cancellations from tour operators and hotels.

“We have not had mass waves of cancellations,” CEO Royce Chwin said in an interview. “We’ve had some cancellations — although I don’t have a qualified number.”

The cancellations include group tours to Jasper and Banff in the Rocky Mountains, he said.

Banff Lake Louise Tourism said in a statement that it has seen a minimal impact so far, but noted that staff are monitoring the situation.

“It’s early days so (we) can’t fully anticipate the impact,” said Angela Anderson, director of communications. “We are encouraging all businesses in our destination to help make any changes or cancellations as easy as possible and penalty-free.

“China is an important market for us, so we are hopeful the situation gets under control as soon as possible.”

Travel Alberta is also pausing its consumer marketing activities in China.

READ MORE: U.S. reports first case of human-to-human transmission of coronavirus

Hysan Lee, owner and operator of Aurora Holiday Tours in Yellowknife, said he’s had about 200 cancellations in the last few weeks.

“This morning, I got five emails,” he said Thursday.

The company books tours and hotels for Chinese people travelling to the Northwest Territories.

Lee said he’s offering a full refund for the cancellations, which were mostly for February and March.

Discover Banff Tours declined to comment and other tour companies in B.C. and Alberta didn’t respond to requests for interviews.

Travel Alberta’s Chwin said he hasn’t heard about any operators or hotels that are overly worried.

“Everybody is just being proactive and has general concern, obviously, for the general well-being of people first and secondly how it might impact the business,” he said. “We’re just seeing a bit of trickle here.”

The impact, he said, is nowhere near what it was in 2003 when SARS, a viral respiratory illness also caused by a coronavirus, hit Toronto.

“SARS was centred in Canada where this is not,” said Chwin. “Canada is not the focus of attention. It really did hurt the industry back in the day when SARS happened, while this (new coronavirus) is centred in China.

“It’s not really a relevant comparison.”

— With files from The Associated Press

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

‘He has a home’, the tale of Ladysmith’s Turf Kitty

Chewy, also known as ‘Turf Kitty’, is a popular presence at Forrest Field

Downtown Ladysmith vehicle fire quickly extinguished

LFR Lieutenant Matt Rickett said that everyone involved responded exactly how they were supposed to

QUIZ: How much do you know about British Columbia?

On this B.C. Day long weekend, put your knowledge of our province to the test

Nanaimo-Ladysmith students will be going back to school full time in the fall in ‘learning groups’

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools to submit back-to-school plan to ministry in August

B.C. doctors, dentists call on province for mandatory mask rule

Open letter says masks should be worn in indoor public spaces, public transportation or in crowds

Dwindling B.C. bamboo supply leaves Calgary Zoo biologists worried about pandas

Zoo has been trying to send pandas back to China since May

Facebook launches its new TikTok clone, Instagram Reels

Facebook has a long tradition of cloning competitive services

B.C. Appeal Court prevents Victoria woman from using the term ‘death midwife’ in her job

Pashta MaryMoon claimed she had been providing “death-care services” for more than 40 years

‘We all have anxieties’: B.C.’s top doctor addresses return-to-school fears amid COVID-19

Dr. Bonnie Henry promises school restart plan safe for B.C. kids

B.C. fish harvesters receive long-awaited details on pandemic benefits

Applications to the $470-million federal assistance programs will open Aug. 24

B.C. fish harvesters receive long-awaited details on pandemic benefits

Applications to the $470-million federal assistance programs will open Aug. 24

Most Read