Prince Albert hoteliers say wildfire evacuees are not posing a strain on their facilities.
That is contrary to what Deanna Valentine with the province's Emergency Social Services told reporters Monday afternoon. In a media call, Valentine said the wildfires “put stress on the health care system [in P.A.] and the hotels which have to increase everything, from laundry, to meals and other services,”
Jamie Mcguin, the chair of Prince Albert’s hospitality association, said hotel managers he’s spoken to in the city disagree.
“I don’t think there’s any of our members that are unhappy these folks are here,” Mcguin said that instead, evacuees are bringing in revenue by filling up hotels, shopping, eating out, etc.
“It’s an unfortunate situation as to why they’re here, but it certainly has a positive economic impact while they’re here,” he said.
Mcguin said normally, this time of year would be slower-paced. The standard occupancy rate is 50 to 55 per cent on average, whereas right now their businesses are 85-90 per cent occupied. He said they’re busier than usual, but it’s just part of the business.
Mcguin didn't feel there were problems accommodating the evacuees and their families.
“The staff have been busy for sure, but they’re coping very well and doing quite well,” he said.
There are almost 2,000 evacuees in P.A. As a result, Emergency Social Services also asked evacuees in the city to voluntarily transfer to Saskatoon. But Mcguin said it would create stress and anxiety to move people who were already displaced from their homes.
“When they’re worried about their homes and their possessions back home you don’t want to have to keep bouncing them around,” he said.
On Twitter: @becamarroquin
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