More and more northern Vancouver Island communities are starting to publicly discourage tourism due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alert Bay, in conjunction with the ‘Namgis First Nation, actually went a step further than just discouraging tourism by issuing a news release stating that “no pleasure or tourist travel is permitted to Cormorant Island. We are a friendly community and we value visitors and tourists, however, with the current health crisis, we ask that you visit another time.”
According to the release, Cormorant Island is a “isolated, remote community with limited resources and we are taking extreme precautionary measures to ensure the safety of our community members.”
Both Port McNeill and Port Alice have also issued news releases discouraging tourism during the pandemic.
Port Alice released their’s first, noting the village would like to ask tourists to “avoid visiting our community during this time. As a small community we need to focus on keeping our essential service workers and residents as safe as possible, especially considering the limited medical resources we have in Port Alice.”
The release also noted that many services in the village have already closed “to support the directives set in place by the Province so we do not have accommodation available in our community or in the campsites and parks that surround our area. We will be happy to welcome you back to our community as soon as it is safe to do — please do your part to keep yourself and our community healthy!”
Port McNeill then followed suit in discouraging tourism shortly after.
“The COVID Pandemic (Coronavirus) us living in a strange world,” stated the Town of Port McNeill’s news release. “We are saying and doing things we might not otherwise do. One of them is asking you (tourists) not to come and explore our region… until later.”
The release added that there have been strict guidelines issued by the Province of BC around how many can gather, when to self-isolate and on social distancing, and “though you might think it’s a good idea to get away from it all and social distance here, we are asking you not to do so at this time.”
According to the town’s release, “Our hospitals are small and unable to handle more than the basic emergency. We don’t have an operating room for injuries that may occur while you are on holidays. Each hospital is equipped with a single ventilator.”
To conclude the release, the town then stated that “Because our community is remote, we are doing our very best to minimize the risk to our residents. Your visit could introduce the virus to an area where it may not currently exist.
“Though some hotels may be open, we do not have the capacity to serve you. Our Visitor Information Centre is closed, our parks and campgrounds are closed and the few restaurants open are take-out only. There are no tours to partake in. The local grocery store is doing their best to meet our own demand, but that is proving to be difficult at times.”
Meanwhile, the District of Port Hardy has not issued any release regarding the discouraging of tourism as of press time.
Chief Administrative Officer Allison McCarrick did state to the North Island Gazette that they haven’t directly been advertising it, but they are definitely advocating to follow all Provincial and Federal recommendations and orders.
“Tourism Port Hardy and NVI Tourism are promoting #visit later so rather than saying ‘don’t come’, I think our message is more that with our small community comes smaller infrastructure, businesses, staff, etc. so if something were to happen and we had too many non-residents here at this time it could be even more challenging. Visit later seems to fit.”