Disappearance of visitors due to COVID-19 unnerves city’s tourism sector

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In April, business at Cycle City Toursin downtown Vancouver was booming. Metro Vancouver’s biggest bicycle touring company was selling its rental bikes — about 200 of them — along with new bikes at an incredible rate of about one per hour.

“It was just bonkers,” said owner Josh Bloomfield. “We couldn’t get the bikes out fast enough.”

It kept up like that for about four weeks. But Bloomfield had no illusions about what selling off his assets means.

“It’s not like that’s a great thing for us,” he said. “It’s a stopgap measure to generate some revenue to pay the rent. Overall, it’s pretty dire.”

The situation facing Cycle City is a familiar one to many tourism-dependent businesses in Metro Vancouver. In March, when the province declared an emergency over the novel coronavirus outbreak, tourism came to an unprecedented halt.

The busy summer months are supposed to be when companies such as Cycle City generate enough revenue to last through the lean winter months. If the company rented 350 bikes a day in July of 2019, they maybe reached 35 a day this year — and that’s stretching it.

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