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Some fear staff shortages, road construction will impact tourism rebound on Vancouver Island


Vancouver Island is expecting to see a tourism rebound this summer, but staffing shortages at BC Ferries and road construction could put a damper on that rebound.

On Thursday morning, BC Ferries had to cancel a number of sailings between the Southern Gulf Islands and Tsawwassen, due to a crew shortage after someone called in sick.

"We are facing challenges recruiting sufficient numbers of staff for BC Ferries," said Deborah Marshall, executive director of public affairs with BC Ferries.

"We’re actively out there recruiting, but unfortunately we didn’t have a member this morning to replace this particular crew member."

As a busy travel season approaches, BC Ferries has filled nearly 600 summer positions. But it says it still needs to fill an additional 200 roles.

The shortage has BC Ferries putting out a warning to passengers.

"There may be occasions like this morning where we do have to cancel our service on short notice due to a lack of crew," said Marshall.

The cancellations came on the heels of a recent report released by Destination Greater Victoria showing that tourists are coming back in droves.

"We’re seeing tremendous pent up demand," said Paul Nursey, CEO of Destination Greater Victoria. "We’ve been marketing like crazy and the customers are coming back."


If your plans include a road trip which involves travelling the Malahat highway, you should be aware of a major project that's set to begin this summer.

"We recently just got our tender posted on BC Bid for the Malahat repairs following November's atmospheric river event," said Janelle Staite, deputy director for the south coast region with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

That project will see the retaining wall completely rebuilt and the highway will be restored to its original configuration.

The project will last into the summer of 2023, and for those 25,000 vehicles that travel the Malahat on a daily basis, there could be some delays.

"Generally speaking we’re looking to work outside of the peak periods," said Staite. "We recognize the Malahat is a key commuter corridor."

It’s hoped that if closures are needed for construction, they will happen overnight. At times, there may be a need for single lane, alternating traffic during the day, according to the ministry.


There is good news. The ongoing Kennedy Hill project heading into Tofino has hit a milestone, eliminating the midday closures between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

"Kennedy Hill is progressing quite well," said Staite.

It's still single lane alternating traffic, but that traffic is flowing once again.

Still, some say the upcoming travel impacts will have an effect on local tourism.

"It’s almost a perfect storm," said Chris Foord, a retired transportation planner.

"Getting here could be a problem," he said. "It’s going to forcibly put a lid on how many tourist can be accommodated."

As summer approaches, expectations are high that tourism in the region will make a post-pandemic comeback. Getting those tourist here, however, could be an issue. Top Stories

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