Vancouver Island hotels cancel bookings from B.C. mainland but uncertainty over restrictions remains
VICTORIA -- In the wake of new travel restrictions announced Monday, some businesses are already taking action.
That includes the Magnolia Hotel & Spa in Victoria, which is cancelling reservations from guests who live outside the Vancouver Island health authority and are travelling for non-essential reasons.
Bill Lewis is the hotel’s general manager. He says the loss of revenue in the short term is a sacrifice that’s worthwhile if it means hotels can open in earnest and stay open during the summer.
“Some pain now and hopefully we can save the summer,” said Lewis on Wednesday.
In Tofino, where visitors have flocked for weeks, the Ocean Village Resort is also cancelling reservations for non-essential travellers from the mainland and beyond through the May long weekend. They’re also discouraging those from Vancouver Island from coming.
“We are unfortunately, at this time, having to cancel all residents who live off the island,” said Dena Cole, the resort’s manager.
What remains unclear to many though is how to handle travel within a health authority.
On Wednesday, B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth reiterated long-standing health messaging not to travel beyond your own community, unless it's essential.
“If you’re in Victoria, don't go up to Nanaimo,” said Farnworth. “If you’re in Nanaimo, don't go to Port Hardy. That’s already in place and most people are doing the right thing.”
Farnworth also indicated, however, that police road checks will likely only be at ferry terminals and not elsewhere on Vancouver Island.
“What we are wanting to do is limit travel — recreational travel between the health authorities — so the ferry terminals with the island are the obvious place to do that,” said Farnworth.
The messaging has left local hotel operators unsure what to tell guests from the Island.
“I’ve had calls as recently as half an hour ago from Duncan, Campbell River, Ladysmith — asking is it OK to come down — and our answer is, ‘Wait for the guidelines.’ We hope to see by the end of the week.”
No doubt many in the tourism sector are anxiously awaiting clarity on the new restrictions.