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Business News – St. Thomas mayor hopes other businesses may want call centre Marriott is closing

Business News – St. Thomas mayor hopes other businesses may want call centre Marriott is closing

Business News –

Author of the article:

Megan Stacey

Publishing date:

Jun 29, 2020  •   •  2 minute read

Business News -
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Business News – Article content

A major St. Thomas employer, the Marriott call centre, is shutting its doors and putting hundreds out of work.

The reservation centre formerly was part of the Starwood hotel chain before it was bought by Marriott International — one of the world’s largest hotel companies — nearly five years ago. It opened in 2003 under Starwood.

“We’re a resilient city. We’ll do all we can for the people who work there,” St. Thomas Mayor Joe Preston said.

He added city officials are planning to speak to Marriott representatives and “still hoping to talk them out of it.”

They’re still working with some of their working-at-home employees (to determine) howmany will stay on. Look, I think our normalworld — from a travel and rentalpoint of view— has changed, and Marriott is making those changes as well,” Preston said.

The coronavirus pandemic has walloped the travel industry with closed borders and cancelled vacations, conferences and business travel, leaving hotels virtually empty.

In recent years the Talbot Street call centre had employed more than 600 people, although it’s unclear exactly how many employees are affected by the closure. Marriott representatives did not immediately return calls for comment.

“Today’s news that the Marriott International call centre in St. Thomas will be closing in September is very unfortunate for the community,” MPP Jeff Yurek said in a statement, adding he’d spoken with a number of provincial ministers to urge that “all possible supports be made available to those facing job losses.”

“I will continue to work with Mayor Preston and local economic development stakeholders to promote our region’s many advantages,” the Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP said.

Preston said the call centre in downtown St. Thomas is likely to be attractive to other companies if Marriott vacates.

It’s extremely well set up and extremely hooked up online to be able to be a call centre for just about anything. We expect with this many fantastically trained callcentreemployees and a locationthat’s as ready to go as this one, this may be an in-demand piece of real estate,” he said.

“I really do believethere’ssome sunshine in this. Let’s just get through the pain of today and start working tomorrow on what’s next.”

mstacey@postmedia.com

twitter.com/MeganatLFPress

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