The Province of British Columbia is hoping to save the ski season with the launch of a new campaign geared towards reducing COVID-19 transmission in ski communities.
The government says the new campaign – spearheaded by the ministries of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport; Health and Municipal Affairs – focuses on educating ski communities on COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
“I want to personally thank the ski industry and communities who have been working non-stop to save this ski season, and I know most people are doing the right thing to avoid spreading COVID-19,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. “However, those who are mixing households, throwing parties and ignoring the rules are putting jobs, our economy and our health at risk. Now is the time for each of us to step up and do our part so we can continue to enjoy all that ski communities have to offer.”
In a press release issued on Friday, the government says that the new campaign includes province-wide television and digital advertising, enhanced communication to employees and education for eliminating social gatherings in shared housing and short-term accommodation.
The government also plans on utilizing employers to help with contact tracing and the reinforcement of quarantine and self-isolation accommodation information.
“We’re calling on everyone to be the reason we save our season,” said Jack Crompton, mayor of Whistler. “Whistler doesn’t have an economy if we do not overcome COVID-19 transmission within our community. That’s why it is so important each of us be conscious about not participating in situations where COVID-19 spreads. Take a COVID-19 rain cheque on après with friends. Let’s stick to our households and socialize virtually.”
Outbreaks of COVID-19 have been linked to staff housing or social gatherings in several ski communities across the province this winter, including Whistler and Big White. The Province is hoping the new campaign can help reduce the risks created by these gatherings in order to avoid further restrictions at resorts.
“Ski areas are part of the fabric of many communities, especially in rural B.C.,” said Chris Nicolson, president and CEO of the Canada West Ski Areas Association. “This initiative puts into practice guidance from the Office of the Provincial Health Officer to build on the collaboration that exists between governments and community stakeholders to help prevent transmission in communities and helps maintain safe vital outdoor activity in communities important for physical and mental wellness.”
The government notes that ski resorts in B.C. play a “vital role in the economic recovery of the province,” by generating revenue and creating jobs.
According to the Province, the ski industry in B.C. contributes $2 billion to the economy annually and creates over 21,000 jobs.