With the B.C. Day long weekend just around the corner, popular tourist destinations are reminding travellers to plan ahead.
“We recommend that travellers do the research so they are prepared,” said Nancy Cameron, executive director of Tourism Tofino. “Things like making sure you have an accommodation reservation. You don’t want to head out on this excursion without knowing you have a place to stay.”
Cameron added if anyone in your party is feeling ill, stay at home. Visitors are asked to bring their own personal protective equipment, like masks and hand sanitizer.
“One of the things we are asking visitors to come with is really a backpack full of patience and understanding,” Cameron said. “We want to make sure everyone has a wonderful stay but travelling during COVID-19 is different and it’s different everywhere.”
Doing your research beforehand will help keep both visitors and communities safe, said B.C.’s provincial health officer on Monday.
“Start planning today for what you’re going to be doing to make your BC Day long weekend a safe weekend,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry.
“And as I’ve been saying from the very beginning, go play outside, but play safe. Take this time to assess the risk before you’re spending time with others, particularly people that are not in your close contacts, in your bubbles.”
That weekend getaway to Tofino won’t be what visitors are used to. The additional health and safety practices result in more line ups, Cameron explained, and slower service times.
“The Tofino experience is there as we all know and love it but you have to adapt and we all have to adapt to the current situation,” she said, adding that visitors can still do things like hiking, surfing, and whale watching.
Getting to your destination on the Island, however, may take a little longer than usual. People travelling to and from the Island with BC Ferries should expect multiple sailing waits this weekend.
“We do anticipate that this long weekend will be a popular travel weekend as we start to see British Columbians are travelling a bit more within B.C.,” said Tessa Humphries, BC Ferries’ communications manager.
Passenger space on ferries is still limited due to the pandemic. In April, Transport Canada announced new rules for passenger vessels to limit the spread of COVID-19. Ferries were required to reduce passenger loads by 50 per cent or implement alternative safety measures. BC Ferries opted to do both but is now slowly phasing out the 50 per cent capacity limit after putting extra measures, like required face coverings, in place. Currently, ferries are operating at about a 70 per cent capacity.
This means even foot passengers on busy routes may see sailing waits this weekend.
“Come early if you are planning on travelling this weekend,” said Humphries, or book ahead. “We are advising customers to arrive at least an hour in advance.”
The busiest routes are expected to be Horseshoe Bay to Langdale and Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay. Humphries added those who have a flexible schedule should consider travelling at less busy times or on alternate routes.