“We wholeheartedly agree with the steps and health precautions taken by Canadian and U.S. government officials to date to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission through non-essential travel,” Clipper CEO David Gudgel said in a Friday news release. “Our intent in suspending operations is to hopefully allow ample time to pass so that we may return to service next spring when travel across the border is safe and welcomed once again.”
Clipper is subsequently laying off Canadian employees, and furloughing those based in Seattle until its expected reopening.
During peak season, Clipper employs 200 people, just over half of whom are Seattle-based.
“The most difficult part of this whole thing is laying off employees, some of which have been working for us for 30-plus years,” Gudgel said in a phone interview Friday.
Since its creation in 1986, Clipper has provided transportation, tours and other travel accommodations between the Pacific Northwest and Canada.
Prior to shutting down, Clipper had implemented more space between seats, to create room for more social distancing between passengers. But according to Gudgel, Canada’s extension of its mandatory 14-day quarantine for travelers made it virtually impossible for Clipper to continue its services from the U.S..
The coronavirus pandemic has ravaged the tourism industry, as weary travelers have opted to stay home, and states and countries have cracked down on non-essential travel.
Gudgel declined to say how much revenue Clipper might lose this year, but noted the tourism company took a huge hit from the loss of the summer travel season. Gudgel said he is confident that Clipper will be able to resume services next spring.