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B.C. premier offers little sympathy to would-be holiday travellers trying to get refunds

FILE - B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks in Vancouver, on Thursday July 4, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – Days after B.C.’s top doctor extended a travel advisory to the New Year, the province isn’t rushing to help those who are having a hard time getting a refund for a flight or hotel already booked for the holidays.

On Monday, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry extended a number of orders and restrictions to Jan. 8, including a recommendation against non-essential travel into and out of B.C. as well as anywhere within the province.

Since then, some people have taken to social media to complain that companies and bed and breakfast hosts are refusing to give them a refund.

When asked what advice he had for people who were struggling to get their money back, Premier John Horgan suggested they should have known better than to book something in the first place.

“For those who have been, made reservations and are running into obstacles with provider of their room or whatever it might be, certainly we are looking closely at these issues. I would suggest that making decisions about where to travel in this, the most extraordinary of years, I think […] little bit more foresight would have perhaps anticipated where we would be right now,” Horgan said Wednesday, during a briefing on the province’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

“Having said that, I certainly have sympathy for those who put money out to find a place to celebrate the end of this year and the holiday season that we’re in.”

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Dr. Henry first restricted travel on November 7, when she strongly recommended only essential travel into and out of the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health regions. That restriction was expanded on November 19, when everyone in the province was told to stay in their health region. At the time, people outside the province were also told not to travel to B.C. unless for an essential reason.

On Wednesday, a Tourism Task Force, appointed by the provincial government in September to identify ways to help B.C.’s tourism industry recover from the pandemic and put the industry on good path, put out its final report.

Horgan suggested their recommendations could lead to some refunds for cancelled trips.

“A lot of positive recommendations, we’ll be seeing money flowing to the tourism sector, which I hope will allow them to provide refunds to people who will not be able to get the services that they paid for,” Horgan said.

Among its recommendations, the task force is calling on the province to match a committed $50 million with at least another $50 million. The tourism industry could see a reduction to 69 per cent to $6.7 billion in revenues in 2020, according to the task force.