People miss seeing others but fear of COVID-19 will slow hospitality industry recovery, professor says

Summer is here and people who have endured months of lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic are longing to socialize with others. But the desire to hit restaurants and outdoor amenities is also mixed with some trepidation over the deadly novel coronavirus.

‘People are very cautious about being exposed to the virus,’ says Daniel Scott

The patio at Bobby O'brien's in Kitchener. (Joseph Pavia/CBC)

Summer is here and people who have endured months of lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic may be longing to socialize with others outside their immediate household.

But the desire to hit bars, restaurants and outdoor amenities often associated with vacation season is also mixed with some trepidation over the deadly novel coronavirus, says University of Waterloo professor Dr. Daniel Scott.

Scott says the desire to limit a person's possible exposure to the virus will impact the recovery rate of the hospitality industry.

"People are missing other people, whether it's friends, families, getting together for a barbecue at home, but traveling as well," Scott told CBC News. 

"So there absolutely is this sort of pent-up demand to be social again, but at the same time people are very cautious about being exposed to the virus … most people are going to want to control their possible exposure."

He said it appears many people are planning to travel places by car — not airplanes or cruise ships — for the next six months to even longer meaning much of that travel will be closer to home.

Daniel Scott, professor, Department of Geography and Environmental Management, University of Waterloo. (Submitted by Daniel Scott)

Hospitality industry hard hit by COVID-19

The hospitality industry has been especially hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

President of the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory Doug Wilson said for businesses in this industry, it's been a difficult few months.

"Every business has been hit hard, but tourism businesses, I think especially hard," Wilson told CBC News.  "Anybody in the hospitality or tourism-related business is, of course, finding it difficult, you know. There's no curbside pickup. There's no mail order. We're counting on visitations through the door."

Recovery will be led by domestic tourism

Meanwhile, Scott says the recovery is going to be led by domestic tourism. 

"Canadians don't have very many options of going abroad right now, though some European countries are starting to open up to Canadians," he explained.

"Our border is closed to the United States. Some Caribbean countries are starting to reopen but most Canadians, from the travel intention surveys that have been done, feel most comfortable staying closer to home in their own backyard in many cases. 

"Most Canadians will be travelling within their province … So, many people will be engaging in staycation this year," Scott added.

Most people will be travelling by car and staying relatively close to home this summer, says University of Waterloo professor Daniel Scott. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)


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