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COVID-19 batters Nunavut’s travel industry; 75% of tourism businesses may close in second quarter

Nunavut’s $300-million travel and tourism industry is reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic with 75 per cent of businesses in the sector indicating that they may have to shut down during the second quarter and 13 per cent reporting that they may have to close their doors permanently.

There will be fewer spinoffs and benefits from the travel and tourism industry in Nunavut this year as the COVID-19 pandemic has driven down bookings.
photo courtesy of Wayne Gregory

Nearly a quarter of travel-related businesses saw a decrease of more than 50 per cent in sales revenue during the first three months of 2020 compared to a year earlier, according to Kevin Kelly, CEO of Travel Nunavut, a non-profit membership association.

Close to 40 per cent of businesses realized a 25 per cent decline in revenue.

“And its expected to get worse!” Kelly stated.

During the first quarter of 2020, 41 per cent of Travel Nunavut’s members laid off some employees while another third reduced work hours. The travel industry provided income for approximately 3,000 people in 2019, according to Kelly.

In the upcoming three months, 61 per cent of business operators say they’re anticipating lay offs and 43 per cent foresee a risk of being unable to pay wages to staff.

Three-quarters of these industry members stated that they will require government assistance to continue or to restart commerce after the crisis from the coronavirus has passed, Kelly noted.