Future of B.C. tourism uncertain, but Horgan forecasts potential 'best months' this summer
VICTORIA -- Victoria’s Inner Harbour was quiet Tuesday, thanks to the latest pandemic travel restrictions. As B.C. battles through the peak of its third wave, Premier Horgan cautioned against giving false hope, but also offered an encouraging forecast for the months ahead.
“If we all hang together for the next four weeks, hopefully we'll be in a place where June and July — and most assuredly August and September — will be the best months we’ve had since we turned to the 2020's,” said Horgan Tuesday.
There was certainly cautious optimism amongst the tourism industry a couple of weeks ago, after a meeting on April 12 with B.C.'s provincial health officer and tourism minister.
Following that meeting, Destination Greater Victoria was one of several tourist organizations that sent a newsletter to its members, updating them on the status of restrictions and plans for reopening the in the medium and long term.
In the online newsletter, dated April 16, Destination Greater Victoria CEO Paul Nursey advised members that new orders might be coming that extend current restrictions for several more weeks. But he also expressed hope for the summer.
Nursey explained that by the summer, if all went well, it was expected that domestic travel — as was the case last summer — would be back by July or August. Other potential scenarios included the possibility of international travel by the fall, but that would be at the earliest, along with permitted gatherings of up to 50 people by the summer.
Since that newsletter went out, however, the landscape has changed somewhat.
Nursey says although the travel orders were not a surprise, the industry didn’t necessarily expect them to be as significant as they currently are.
He said Tuesday that it is now less clear what the summer will look like for the industry, and is exhorting British Columbians to follow the current rules in place so that a summer season for the industry can be saved.
“I think the next two or three (weeks) and the health measures and the case counts will determine that,” Nursey said. “It’s playing out right now.”
Health Minister Adrian Dix was not about to weigh in on the future of tourism Tuesday.
“I think it's really important to stay in the present, and right now its really important to have no non-essential travel,” said Dix.
But for those looking for a carrot in the months ahead, the premier may have dangled one Tuesday.
The current restrictions, including those prohibiting travel between different health regions, are set to expire May 25.