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BC tourism sector expecting another dip in summer without international travellers

Citynews 1130 Vancouver

Last Updated Mar 6, 2021 at 3:02 pm PDT

FILE -- People attempt to physical distance themselves from one another as they walk along the seawall in Vancouver, Tuesday, March 31, 2020. British Columbia's tourism and hospitality sector believes it should receive more than one-third of the $1.5-billion COVID-19 recovery package pledged to the province by the federal government.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Summary

Pandemic restrictions in the province are not giving the tourism industry a bright outlook for the sunny months ahead

One expert says, despite the vaccine rollout, the industry will still take another hit mainly due to border closures

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — It’s still going to be an extremely difficult year for tourism operators despite domestic travellers, according to experts but some pockets and sectors are expected to perform well.

Despite vaccine rollouts underway, British Columbians are expecting restrictions to stick around well into the summer. And this means the tourism industry will take another significant hit this season.

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Walt Judas, CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of BC says domestic tourism will help- but won’t make a dent compared to international travellers who spend more in the province.

“We rely on international visitors who pay significantly more to experience a vacation in British Columbia than the locals do. That said, there is pent-up demand, people will want to travel. People in British Columbia are anxious to travel to other regions, so we’ll see a lot of activity, but it’s really contingent on people doing the things that international visitors would normally do when they visit British Columbia in order to keep the doors open for a lot of businesses,” Judas says.

International visitors spend about three to five times more than locals do and tend to visit major attractions, according to Judas.

“I would hope that people who would normally take a vacation out of province, whether it’s elsewhere in Canada to the United States or internationally and decide instead to spend their hard-earned dollars in British Columbia do the things that international visitors come here for, and that British Columbia is so renowned for to support the tourism and hospitality businesses that really need visitors to sustain their operations. Over the course of this year. If we don’t see significant volumes and good money being spent in those businesses, they might not be around beyond this year.”

He notes different sectors of the visitor economy performed reasonably well over the past year, including camping, boating, and golf and he expects that to happen again this summer.

While different locations that people tend to vacation to like the Okanagon and parts of Vancouver Island did well last year, Judas says he’s worried urban centres like Vancouver and Victoria will take another hit.

“That could very well be the case again, this summer, unless we start to see the gradual reopening to domestic visitors from across Canada, and ultimately internationally.”

With revenues of over $20-billion pre-pandemic, the tourism sector in BC has seen its cash flow cut by at least half over the past year.