Newcastle Channel and Saysutshun Newcastle Island in Nanaimo. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

B.C. reopening but tourism facing long-term recovery, say Vancouver Island MLAs

B.C. Liberals criticize lack of planning, NDP says consultation and response happening

B.C. is reopening, but tourism operators can’t take full advantage of the summer months in a time of COVID-19.

The NDP government says it’s working and will continue to work to help the industry rebuild and recover, though the B.C. Liberals say the response hasn’t been sufficient and hasn’t been communicated well.

“Tourism is such a huge part of our economy and the outlook is unclear,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Nanaimo NDP MLA.

She said the government’s focus has been on fighting the pandemic and focusing spending there, and that economic recovery is still to come.

“In every sector we have been taking our cues from the sector itself, we have not been dictating to them how they reopen safely, and we’ve been all ears on what kind of support it is that they need and want,” she said, citing patio expansions as an example.

Michelle Stilwell, Parksville-Qualicum MLA, is one of the B.C. Liberal Party’s critics for tourism and recently co-hosted a series of digital town halls consulting with those in the industry. She has criticized the NDP government for what she said has been a lack of recovery planning, lack of clarity on reopening guidelines, and insufficient financial support.

Stilwell said tourism businesses are facing cash-flow problems and could use temporary measures such as suspensions of sales tax, hotel tax and employer health tax, “just to get things moving” as consumer confidence rebuilds.

Stilwell said with the kind of decline in revenue that the industry is anticipating, tourism within B.C. won’t be enough for some businesses to survive.

“We have to have a very strong focus on the economy and how we get these businesses back up and running and how we get people to work,” she said.

READ ALSO: B.C. Liberals criticize Horgan’s economic recovery plan for excluding tourism sector representation

Malcolmson said in her discussions with local tourism operators, she heard frustration about uncertainty of reopening timelines because it impacted marketing, but said “increasingly it became obvious” that most British Columbians wanted to keep the U.S. border closed to tourists.

The tourism Crown corporation Destination B.C. launched on Tuesday a marketing campaign inviting British Columbians to “rediscover and explore B.C. safely.” Malcolmson said she thinks Nanaimo is “going to get discovered” by a lot of British Columbians vacationing within their own province this summer.

“As long as people continue to follow those principles of washing their hands, staying home if they’re sick, keeping physical distance, then if we can continue to keep our community healthy, then people will be confident coming and travelling from elsewhere in B.C.,” she said.

While Stilwell said the pandemic has instilled fear in people and some hesitancy to travel, Malcolmson said B.C. didn’t shut down as much as other places and can potentially “bounce back” more quickly. She said the government will continue to work with partners in the tourism industry on recovery.

“We’re organizing and continuing to have sectoral meetings so that we are talking about what people need to rebuild from this,” she said. “Not just damage control for this summer, but what’s ahead.”



editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CoronavirusTourism

Just Posted

Victoria man charged in stabbing death of Vancouver overdose prevention worker

Maximus Roland Hayes, 23, is facing one count of manslaughter in connection to the killing

Protesters showcase massive old yellow cedar as Port Renfrew area forest blockade continues

9.5-foot-wide yellow cedar measured by Ancient Forest Alliance campaigners in Fairy Creek watershed

Taking dog feces and a jackhammer to neighbourhood dispute costs Vancouver Island man $16,000

‘Pellegrin’s actions were motivated by malice …a vindictive, pointless, dangerous and unlawful act’

Langford theft investigation leads to national crime ring

More than $250,000 in stolen goods recovered, $67,000 in cash seized

Pumps not needed to keep Cowichan River running this year

Wet year so far has resulted in higher water levels

‘Don’t kill my mom’: Ryan Reynolds calls on young British Columbians to be COVID-smart

‘Deadpool’ celebrity responds to premier’s call for social influence support

Captain Horvat’s OT marker lifts Canucks to 4-3 win over Blues

Vancouver takes 2-0 lead in best-of-7 NHL playoff series with St. Louis

Widow of slain Red Deer doctor thanks community for support ahead of vigil

Fellow doctors, members of the public will gather for a physically-distanced vigil in central Alberta

Devil’s Hand Poker Run in Campbell River to face RCMP scrutiny

The Campbell River RCMP will be keeping a close eye on the… Continue reading

Racist stickers at Keremeos pub leaves group uneasy and angry

The ‘OK’ hand gesture is a known hate-symbol

VIDEO: World responds to B.C. girl after pandemic cancels birthday party

Dozens of cards and numerous packages were delivered to six-year-old Charlie Manning

Expected fall peak of COVID-19 in Canada could overwhelm health systems: Tam

National modelling projections released Friday show an expected peak in cases this fall

Hundreds of sea lions to be killed on Columbia River in effort to save endangered fish

Nearly 22,000 comments received during public review were opposed, fewer than 200 were for

Most Read