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Attractions and businesses dependent on tourism hurting in Waterloo Region

KITCHENER — Business owners and event organizers dependent on tourism are among many in Waterloo Region who are struggling to adjust during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The owners of Forest Hill Bed and Breakfast in Kitchener were expecting to mark their 10-year anniversary on May 1 with plenty of people inside.

Instead, no guest has checked in since March.

“We miss the people,” said co-owner Eleanor Edwards. “We truly miss the people.”

“It’s a big amount of money that we are not getting this year and we have to realized that it’s going to make a difference in the business.”

Co-owners Eleanor and Dave Edwards add that they expect to be closed down until the end of June.

Minto Schneider, CEO of Explore Waterloo Region, says the pandemic has been devastating for the tourism sector in Waterloo Region and shut down half of all related businesses.

“There’s about 16 per cent that are at risk of permanent closure,” she said.

Schneider predicts that visitation will be hyper-local once restrictions are lifted. This will most likely mean tourism businesses will continue to struggle.

“We have zero revenue coming in,” said Bingemans president Mark Bingeman. “Those expenses still occur, so that puts you underwater for that period of time.

Schneider hopes that government assistance will be of some help to them.

“Particularly liquidity for attractions and restaurants,” she said. “Hopefully they’re listening and understand the extreme dangers of these places closing permanently.”

Bingeman notes that government assistance will help in the long term, but paying money back down the road will still be a challenge.

“Will Bingemans still be here in long term? Absolutely,” he said. “It may have a different shape and form and the operations are certainly going to be different.”

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