NEWS BRIEFS update July 9, 2019

AHLA and AHSA to amalgamate

By Melissa Boisvert, AHLA 

EDMONTON — Recently, members of the Alberta Hospitality Safety Association (AHSA) voted to amalgamate with the AHLA, effective January 1, 2020, subject to:

— Meeting all requirements identified by WCB and Alberta Labour;

— AHLA establishing a new membership category for WCB industry code 87503 properties with no additional membership fee, and with voting rights restricted to resolutions regarding health & safety programing; and

— Restricting all WCB levy funding received to development and delivery of industry health and safety programming.

This amalgamation will benefit hotels around Alberta by:

— Taking a more integrated approach to safety and HR practices;

— Better utilizing the knowledge and skills of staff in both organizations;

— Increasing administrative and operational efficiencies; and

— Eliminating duplicated costs.

“Although both the AHSA and the AHLA will benefit from this amalgamation, all of our members will also benefit greatly from the more integrated communications and resources,” said Matthew Kindrat, chair of the AHSA board of directors. “We very much look forward to joining together with the AHLA in the new year.”

Airbnb likely removed 31,000 rental homes

MONTREAL — Short-term rental sites are ‘having rather large impacts on our housing markets,’ McGill researchers said in a groundbreaking paper shared exclusively with The Globe & Mail.

An article by Tom Cardoso and Matt Lundy said that more than 31,000 homes across the country were rented out so often on Airbnb in 2018 that they were likely removed from the long-term rental supply, according to the study by McGill University researchers.

Put another way, that’s more than enough homes for everyone in North Vancouver. And those 31,000 homes are equal to about 1.5 per cent of residences across the country that have been built for the rental market.

Airbnb and similar platforms are among several factors, including a lack of rental construction and high barriers to home ownership, that have affected rental markets. Housing advocates say not enough rental housing is being built in Canada’s largest cities to accommodate population growth.

In 2018, the platform had a daily average of 128,000 active listings in Canada, which includes everything from a basement suite to a lakefront cottage, an increase of 25 per cent from 2017, according to the report. And for hosts, it’s been a profitable time: They brought in $1.8-billion in revenue last year, up 40 per cent from 2017.

Destination Employment pilot in Saskatchewan

Day 1 of Destination Employment classes in Saskatoon.
Day 1 of Destination Employment classes in Saskatoon.

SASKATOON — Tourism Saskatchewan, through its education department, the Saskatchewan Tourism Education Council (STEC), is a proud partner in the Destination Employment program, which helps newcomers to Canada gain meaningful employment in the tourism sector.

With generous funding from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, Tourism HR Canada and the Hotel Association of Canada launched the three-year pilot program in June 2018. Saskatchewan was among five regions chosen to receive funding for the program. Delivery of the program in Saskatchewan is led by STEC, working with the Saskatchewan Hotel and Hospitality Association (SHHA) and other partners.

Tourism is one of the world’s most rapidly growing sectors. Maintaining an adequate, skilled labour force is a challenge. Estimated growth in tourism between now and 2035 will require the creation of jobs at a faster rate than that of labour force growth, thereby limiting the expansion of the industry and compromising services.

Destination Employment assists hoteliers and accommodation businesses with attracting new employees and retaining valuable staff. The benefits are wide reaching and enrich communities through increased economic activity, greater opportunities for Saskatchewan residents, and a more diverse tourism sector that provides exceptional service.

Delivery partners working with STEC include the Saskatoon and Regina Open Door Societies and the Saskatoon Industry Education Council. Currently, ten Saskatchewan businesses are active employers in Destination Employment. The SHHA plays a role in identifying hotels that wish to participate.

Manitoba PST returns to 7 per cent

WINNIPEG — Manitoba’s sales tax will drop to 7 per cent on July 1 — fulfilling an election campaign promise from the Pallister government to reduce the provincial sales tax by 1 per cent, six years after the previous government raised it.

According to the province’s 2019 budget, “This sales tax cut reduces the retail sales tax rate by 12.5 per cent and will benefit all Manitobans and businesses.”

All automated point-of-sale systems will need to be updated to reflect the new tax level to ensure that customers are not overcharged.

For more information, contact James Rilett, Restaurants Canada vice-president, Central Canada, jrilett@restaurantscanada.orgor 1-800-387-5649 ext. 4241.

Montreal tourism satisfaction is up

MONTRÉAL — According to an Ipsos survey conducted for Tourisme Montréal, 95 per cent of leisure and business travellers who stayed in Montréal in 2018 were either satisfied or very satisfied with their experience. The proportion of those who said they were very satisfied has gone up 20 per cent from 2006.

Furthermore, 93 per cent of the leisure tourists polled said they would recommend Montréal as a destination, while 84 per cent of business travellers said they’d like to come back to Montréal on a leisure trip. Overall, more than 8 out of 10 visitors said they’d like to visit again within five years. 

When asked about which factors contributed to the quality of their experience in Montréal, respondents most frequently mentioned the city’s ambiance, safe streets, friendly locals, numerous festivals, vast dining options and the diverse arts, culture and events scene. The majority of respondents visited Old Montréal (85 per cent) and downtown (84 per cent) as well as Mount Royal Park and Saint Joseph’s Oratory. According to the survey, satisfaction with the traffic, construction and mobility situation increased from 34 per cent in 2016 to 49 per cent in 2018. 

“Ever since Tourisme Montréal was founded 100 years ago, we have been developing expertise on how to shape a city where people love to live and work, and which welcomes visitors with open arms. We owe this success to our partners and to the people of Montréal!” said Yves Lalumière, president and CEO of Tourisme Montréal. 

Ontario funds project to end human trafficking

The Hon. Lisa MacLeod.
The Hon. Lisa MacLeod.

OTTAWA — Ontario is protecting what matters most by investing up to $271,000 in funding for Voice Found, an Ottawa-based organization that supports survivors of sex trafficking. The province is also looking at new approaches to combat trafficking, support survivors and hold offenders accountable. 

Late last month, Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services was at Voice Found, to discuss what more can be done to provide support for survivors so they get the help they need.

“Sex trafficking is a crisis throughout Ontario, in our biggest cities and smallest towns,” said MacLeod. “We are taking action to end these crimes by shining a light on it and engaging with people who know first-hand the devastation it causes to women, young girls and other vulnerable people.”

The government has begun a series of roundtable discussions, chaired by parliamentary assistant Belinda Karahalios and Mississauga Centre MPP Natalia Kusendova, on sex trafficking with survivors, Indigenous partners, law enforcement and front-line service providers. The roundtables will help create a more responsive and supportive system for survivors of violence and trafficking, and change attitudes that give rise to violence against women.

“Our government is fighting to end sex trafficking,” added MacLeod. “We know we have a big challenge ahead, and that government cannot do it alone, but I am confident that by raising awareness and working together across ministries, across sectors and across jurisdictions, we can do more to stop these crimes and support survivors.”

Taco Bell hotel completely booked in two minutes

“The Bell: A Taco Bell Hotel and Resort” sold out its extended weekend in two minutes. Photo: Taco Bell.
“The Bell: A Taco Bell Hotel and Resort” sold out its extended weekend in two minutes. Photo: Taco Bell.

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. — Anyone hoping to book a room at The Bell, the Taco Bell-themed hotel in Palm Springs, California, is now out of luck, CNBC reports. The influx of hopeful guests crashed the hotel’s website shortly after it went live, and the hotel was completely booked within two minutes.

The 70-room hotel had rates starting at $169 USD a night with no minimum required stay, according to the article. Part of the rush comes from the fact that, much like special items on a menu, The Bell exists for a limited time only, running from 8-12 August. After that, the hotel reverts back to its normal operations as the V Palm Springs Hotel.

Guests of the Bell will enjoy the restaurant chain’s take on the hotel restaurant’s menu, the article states. There will also be a gift shop with Taco Bell-themed apparel along with a salon with Taco Bell-inspired nail art and hair styling services. The lounge is inspired by Mountain Dew Baja Blast.