Our one-of-a-kind tourism industry is being put to the test but it is very resilient. Let’s take a look at the issues and solutions.

On June 22, 2020, President and CEO of Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton Emilio B. Imbriglio shared the screen with Liza Frulla, General Director of the Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec (ITHQ). They talked about the issues facing the tourism industry amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the role of the ITHQ in this particular context. (Watch the online video for the full interview.)

The recipe for tourism: volume and talents

Liza Frulla is very optimistic about the resilience of the Quebec tourism industry which she believes stands out worldwide. And those who are passionate about the local tourism industry will help boost it up.

“It’s an industry filled with talented people. In terms of restaurants, Quebec is considered as the food capital of North America. There are small jewels […] in major cities like Montréal and Québec City, but also across all regions of the province. That’s what cements our culinary reputation and attracts tourists,” she says.

However, we must still be aware of the new challenges brought about by the pandemic. “Volume is important for tourism. And the rural regions might pull through better than Montréal because business tourism and the cultural sector are concentrated in the big city,” Liza Frulla points out.

She goes on to say that when it comes to restaurant owners—contrary to other industries—many started their business with love money. That presents certain difficulties, especially in getting endorsements from a financial institution. According to Liza Frulla, restaurants don’t just need financial support; they could also benefit from a complete review of the economic dynamics of the system that governs them.

The client experience and restaurants

Social distancing measures imposed by the Quebec public health authority will no doubt have an impact on the client experience. Liza Frulla believes that we must play the game and consumers must tell themselves that they can overcome those restrictions through their desire to go to a restaurant, to go out, and their imagination.

The Restaurant de l’ITHQ reopened for three weeks, with two professional chefs and their final-year students in the kitchen. Liza Frulla uses this example and points out that they have downsized from 64 seats to 32, and a Plexiglas shield separates diners from separate households dining at the same table. The teams are of course required to wear a face mask and a visor.

“We’re testing it out and developing a number of training webinars. The ITHQ is a leader in the industry; we take our role seriously.”

Let’s enjoy Quebec!

Despite the situation, Liza Frulla emphasizes the positive aspect of the crisis. It’s an unprecedented situation that’s giving us a chance to rediscover our beautiful territory! “You can be at a beach in Gaspésie, there’s the Bic, and Charlevoix is incredible. There’s nothing more beautiful than summer in Quebec!”

There is some apprehension about the Quebec government’s decision to inject $753 into supporting tourism in the province. “This help will take the form of very attractive loans. The industry says “great, thanks,” but if we’re not sure to make it through the fall, we’re not sure we want to go into debt again.”

According to Liza Frulla, the $20 million announced for Quebecers looking to vacation in the province is good news as it will help generate the volume needed for the economy to run smoothly and drive tourism across Quebec. “The SEPAQ is giving discounts to encourage you to visit the province. It’s an agreement of historic proportions. We want to motivate you to travel within Quebec and to make that a habit.”

What needs to be improved and what needs to be done

Despite the fact that a number of real estate and hotel owners, especially in business tourism, are Quebecers, Liza Frulla advises that they shouldn’t throw in the towel and let our real estate fall into the hands of foreign owners. She is adamant that we do not want to become tenants in our own home.

When the firm’s President and CEO asked what needs to be done to ensure the long-term survival of organizations, the ITHQ General Director answered that “fixed charges and taxes have always been the issue: a tax holiday and a fixed charge holiday would be most welcome.”

Tourism and the hotel and restaurant industry have major economic repercussions on many Quebec regions. What’s the first thing she’d do if she were a municipality mayor? “Mayors should be saying: I will do everything in my power to promote tourism in my town, in my region. We cannot survive without tourism.”

Regarding major events, in Montréal for example, Liza Frulla believes that we should go back to holding large-scale events, which would mean quicker financing as soon as possible. Regroupement des événements majeurs internationaux (RÉMI) has already requested that a federal emergency fund be set up for that purpose.

The role of the ITHQ

Liza Frulla says that as a hotel management school, they “will continue to focus on management and research. The ITHQ is the only establishment in Canada that offers three different program levels (secondary, college and university). With our two research units, we serve tourism in the broadest sense.”

Due to COVID-19, the ITHQ has developed online training in the form of webinars. The school strongly encourages the use of digital technologies. “We work with every sector of the tourism industry. We try to help. It’s our mission to raise the industry’s professional standards.”

According to Liza Frulla, the pandemic has tuned governments in to the importance of tourism and shown that every job in the industry is profitable to society.

 

For tips and support regarding tourism, leisure and culture, our team is here for you. With more than 30 years of experience and some 3,000 projects under the belt, our experts can help you bounce back and remain innovative, based on an approach tailored to your sector.

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With the gradual reopening of the economy, the mergers and acquisitions market is gradually recovering. What’s next?

Prior to the pandemic, the Canadian mergers and acquisitions (M&A) market was very stable and even on the rise. The Canadian outlook was very favourable for sellers. However, the pandemic caused disruptions in the M&A world, and several firms suspended or cancelled deals.

In a recent webinar, our experts discussed the current state of the market and their financing issue predictions with a special guest, Éric Doyon, Managing Partner at Walter Capital Partners.

Unprecedented economic impacts

Nine out of ten transactions were taken off the market or put on hold due to the lack of medium- and long-term financial performance visibility on companies, leading to global uncertainties and the preservation of cash resources.

There is no doubt about the need for every entrepreneur to be vigilant in this uncertain economy, but better days are ahead. With the gradual deconfinement of economic activity, businesses will be able to revisit their M&A plans and even take advantage of opportunities that may arise.

Proactivity and innovation: essential for recovery

In Canada, we are currently in the recovery and revitalization phase. With the reopening of the U.S. and Canadian economies, after a few months of crisis, we are already seeing some recovery in the transactional market.

In spite of the major difficulties encountered, some companies have proven to be resilient and others have shown strong growth. Several organizations, especially in the retail sector, were proactive, thinking outside the box and repositioning their Web activities, which, for some, drove a 200-300% sales increase. As a result, many are now re-evaluating their priorities in order to further invest in an online sales platform for future success.

Our viewpoint: our predictions for the future

We are seeing some demand in the market and are already witnessing the resumption of transactions, leading to business continuity. With entrepreneurs’ confidence and a more optimistic outlook, including the recovery of North American stock exchanges, as well as several attractive business opportunities, the M&A market will gradually pick up again.

However, we expect a change in the structure of transactions, as selling price values and earnouts will become increasingly common. It is still not certain what role the effects of COVID-19 will play in lenders’ and investors’ analyses. They will possibly be more careful in selecting transactions, but, to date, these partners have been very flexible in order to support entrepreneurs, despite the context.

As mergers and acquisitions gain momentum, investors and lenders will continue to focus on companies with strong management teams and a proven business model operating in growth sectors. Entrepreneurs will therefore have to demonstrate how well the company and the management team navigated through the crisis, mainly in terms of agility, flexibility, cost control and loyalty.

On the other hand, an entrepreneur who decides to sell today must approach this step with a certain open-mindedness. Valuations will be under pressure, since we are seeing a decrease in the available leverage in transaction structures, which will require much more operational and financial creativity.

We remain optimistic about long-term transaction volumes. With the pandemic stabilizing, many buyers will be ready to do business: there is still a lot of capital available in the market. However, it is important for an entrepreneur to avoid making hasty operating decisions that would maximize short-term profits and transaction value at the expense of long-term value creation.

Please view our webinar for more information on the return of M&A and financing.

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The Grant Thornton International IFRS team has published COVID-19 – Accounting Considerations for CFOs: Government Grants.

As a response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, governments around the world are implementing measures to help businesses and economies get through it. The nature of government grants can take on various forms, such as below market rate loans, short-time working subsidies, relief funds, income-based tax credits, to name just a few.

While many forms of government assistance should be accounted for by applying IAS 20 Accounting for Government Grants and Disclosure of Government Assistance, others should be addressed by other standards, such as IAS 12 Income Taxes. Entities will therefore need to assess the economic substance of any government assistance they are receiving to determine what is the appropriate accounting treatment.

The publication COVID-19 – Accounting Considerations for CFOs: Government Grants addresses four key questions to consider prior to determining the appropriate accounting treatment for government grants:

  • Is the government assistance in the scope of IAS 20 or another standard?
  • What is the correct recognition and measurement?
  • Is it recognized in the correct period?
  • How should the assistance received from governments be presented in the financial statements?

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The International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) has issued a collection of narrow scope amendments to IFRS. The collection includes amendments to three standards as well as Annual Improvements to IFRS Standards, which addresses non-urgent (but necessary) minor amendments to four standards.

The changes are summarised in this Adviser Alert.