OSOYOOS (NEWS 1130) — One town in the Okanagan, known in part for its summer tourism, didn’t see nearly as many visitors over the recent long weekend.
The tourism industry in Vancouver has taken a big hit in the last six weeks due to the pandemic, and it also seems to extend into the Okanagan.
Mayor of Osoyoos Sue McKortoff says they didn’t have many visitors over the recent long weekend.
“It’s a huge impact to our community,” she says.
Even with fewer people around than usual, the mayor says there were still plenty of people that came up to stay in their vacation homes over the last long weekend, and she questioned whether or not it was for essential travel.
“It’s possible that some of the people that we saw here decided that it was an essential visit, to visit family, to visit grandparents… we don’t know,” she explains.
Health officials have stressed the importance of only travelling if it is absolutely essential in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Starting to open up
McKortoff says like everything else, there’s no handbook on how to deal with tourism during a pandemic.
“We’re certainly going to look at how we can make this tourism season make some sort of sense,” she says.
The decision to reopen golf courses has led to some criticism lately, but McKortoff says the town’s golf course opened on Monday under some very strict COVID-19 guidelines.
“That’s probably the easiest thing, in terms of an outdoor activity to manage, because it’s easier to manage the physical distancing on the golf course than at other places,” she says.
As other businesses start to reopen McKortoff says following public safety orders is still necessary going forward.
“I think we’re going to be looking at how we can open up a few things and encourage people to get out and enjoy the sunshine, the water, and our parks,” she says, adding all the parks are currently open.
Some hotels and motels are still open – heeding medical advice and practicing good distancing, the mayor adds.
-With files from Jon Szekeres