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

Just Posted

New report sparks run of new North Island mining claims

In the first 15 days following Geoscience BC report, a total of 34 new claims were staked

Court awards Nanaimo woman $300,000 after crash exacerbates her fibromyalgia

Judgment follows 2015 motor vehicle accident on Turner Road

UPDATE: Nanaimo’s Dover Bay Secondary no longer under lockdown

Nanaimo RCMP say McGirr Elementary no longer under hold-and-secure procedures.

Saanich Police respond to petition for new police agency on Lindsay Buziak murder case

Petition asks Public Safety Minister to to help find justice for slain realtor

Petition calls for suspension of Victoria councillor over legislature protest comments

Ben Isitt says petition ‘does not provide a reliable barometer of public opinion’

VIDEO: B.C. senior recalls ‘crazy’ wartime decision to grab bear cub from den

Henry Martens – now 96 – says he was lucky to be alive after youthful decision to enter a bear’s den

Vancouver Island climber off to Olympic qualifier

Cowichan’s Brennan Doyle competing for Pan Am Championship in Los Angeles

Suspicious sedan following walkers spooking Comox Valley residents

Military police and RCMP investigating, increasing patrols

Loans or gifts? Judge rules woman must pay B.C. man back $7K

B.C. judge rules that woman must pay back more than $7,000 in advanced funds to man

Witnesses assist Campbell River woman in danger

The Campbell River RCMP were called to a report of violence in… Continue reading

Cheapest in B.C.: Penticton gas prices dip below $1 per litre

Two stores in Penticton have gas below a dollar.

VIDEO: Outpouring of worldwide support for bullied Australian boy

Australian actor Hugh Jackman said ‘you are stronger than you know, mate’

SpaceX aims to launch up to 4 tourists into super high orbit

Ticket prices are not being divulged but expected to be in the millions

Florida’s Venice has warm springs, shark teeth and more

This Venice is warm, inviting and certainly not sinking

Most Read