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Summer tourism adapts to Phase 3 in B.C.

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Summary

Adapting is how towns and industries reliant on tourism plan to navigate this summer

Some vineyards are changing up the tour experience and moving away from rapid-fire tasting

Tourism in Merrit shifts focus to outdoor recreation in the absence of musical festivals

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — As many people start hitting the road around the province again, there are going to be some changes in communities and industries reliant on tourism.

It’s a different kind of summer for B.C. tourism as the province navigates Phase 3 of its Restart Plan.

Vineyards are one of the industries learning to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic this summer.

Miles Prodan, executive director of the BC Wine Institute, says vineyards are shifting away from people doing rapid-fire tastings, and focusing on in-depth explorations on local wines and how they are made instead.

“It’s not going to be as busy as they had been in the past but maybe that’s a good thing,” he says. “Maybe it’s not a rush to get up to the tasting bar and get a sample in your glass, but a chance to sit down and visit and we’re starting to see that coming into effect.”

“This is about a comprehensive experience.”

Prodan explains the new experience will take a bit more time, and involves a more thorough experience learning about the wine.

“I think it’s going to take a change in consumer behaviour, and you’re just going to have to stop and think a little bit about where you want to be, and who you want to visit when you’re planning a winery trip,” Prodan says. “And we don’t think that’s a bad thing at all.”

There has been a slow uptick in bookings since Phase 3 was announced, he says, but there hasn’t been a surge.

While restrictions are in place to control the number of people visiting vineyards, Prodan adds walk-ins aren’t being discouraged this summer.

Meanwhile, Will George with Tourism Merritt says without big festivals this summer, the push is to promote the area’s outdoor activities.

“There’s a lot of people coming up from the Lower Mainland to the Nicola Valley, camping, fishing, and enjoying the great recreational outdoor activities we have here,” he says.

There has been a significant increase in demand for recreational businesses, whether it be for rentals or purchase, George adds.

Given the close proximity to the Lower Mainland, George still expects to see visitors.

“For folks who live in the city, they’re able to come up and experience all the trails, we have horseback riding, and mountain biking and all sorts of stuff,” he says. “I think we’re going to see folks that have come up for the music festivals in the past still come up to visit Merritt, but they might explore some things they haven’t necessarily done in the past.”

Bass Coast and Rockin’ River Country Music Fest have been postponed to 2021.

“We’re encouraging folks to come visit, but in a safe manner.”