P.E.I. bus company loses $1 million contract for 2021, owner fearful this is only the beginning

Coach Atlantic, a bus company on P.E.I. says that one of it's major tour operators has cancelled the 2021 season, costing the company $1 million

'What we lose everybody around us in this industry loses'

Mike Cassidy, owner of Coach Atlantic says with the loss of this contract, and other projected losses, the company could be down over $20 million in revenue in 2021 (Wayne Thibodeau/CBC)

After weathering a tough 2020 season, the 2021 tourist season isn't looking any better for Coach Atlantic. 

"Our number one multi-day tour provider from the United States wrote us via email last week, they are cancelling all visitation to Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick for 2021," said  Mike Cassidy, owner of Coach Atlantic. 

Losing that contract means a loss of about $1 million, said Cassidy. 

That, coupled with the other projected loss in revenue next year, Cassidy said he expects the hit in 2021 will be immense. 

"We could be down $20 to $25 million in 2021," he said. 

Despite setting their buses up with COVID-19 precautions in mind, with lots of plexiglass, physical distancing and santizer available, most of the company's buses remained parked this summer. 

Mark Rodd, president and CEO of Rodd Hotels and Resorts says typically through August and September the Rodd Charlottetown runs close to capacity because of bus tours. (Wayne Thibodeau/CBC)

Normally, those buses take visitors to P.E.I. and the other Maritime provinces on sightseeing tours. 

"When you take our total operation, our gross revenue will be down. Thirty-three million dollars for the year 2020," said Cassidy. 

Coach Atlantic travels throughout the Maritimes, Quebec, Ontario and New England, said Cassidy. 

Cassidy said those losses will be felt outside of the company as well, as a lack of tourists on the buses means fewer tourists in hotels, restaurants and shops.

"You can translate that with the trickle down effect. What we lose everybody around us in this industry lose."

And for Cassidy, that is a tough pill to swallow. 

"COVID-19 is worse than what we ever experienced and as you toss and turn at night, definitely you think about your company, you think about your employees, you think about your customers and you think about the obligation you have to your community."

Trickle down effect

Those parked Coach Atlantic buses would also bring tourists to the Rodd Charlottetown in the capital city's downtown. 

Normally, the 115-bed hotel runs close to capacity through August and September, said Mark Rodd, president and CEO of Rodd Hotels and Resorts. 

"Typically in August, this hotel would run 98 per cent. September we'd be running 90 per cent. We'd be full of bus tours," he said. 

Because of COVID-19, the hotel had to shut down for the season. It doesn't plan to reopen until 2021. 

"We looked at a possibility of opening it up when the bubble came, but just the pick up was not there," he said.

Owner of Coach Atlantic Mike Cassidy says that losing this contract for 2021 will have a trickle down effect on P.E.I. (Ben Silcox/CBC)

Rodd said revenues for 2020 are down about 50 per cent and the chain has had to lay off more than half of its employees.

"We had high hopes for 2020," he said. "This is by far the worst year we've ever faced."

Looking forward to 2021, Rodd said the hotel is looking forward and trying to book what they can for next season, but with uncertainty about what the situation around COVID-19 might look like next year, it's proving difficult. 

"Nobody knows what the border restrictions are going to be, what the COVID restrictions are going to be in terms of gathering," he said. 

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files by Wayne Thibodeau


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