Hotels, ferries and tourism operators are busy preparing for a potential influx of visitors as travel restrictions within British Columbia are set to lift on Tuesday.
“It’s great news for my hotel and the province,” said Reid James, the general manager for Hotel Grand Pacific, adding that it’s a change he’s long been waiting for.
He said it’s been a quiet few months at his hotel, which led to lay-offs and empty rooms, but with travel restrictions set to be lifted, business is already picking up.
“We started to see an improvement this week starting last week. I understand the phones were ringing a little bit this morning, so that’s good news,” he said.
For Vancouver Island resorts, its also been a struggle to survive without tourists.
“For us, it’s been a tough winter,” said Bill Kelly, the general manager of Crown Isle Resort and Golf Community.
“But … we’re starting to see more people from B.C. travel up and down the island and our team is extremely excited to host people from within the province and we look forward to it,” he said.
It appears that many people across the province want to get going as the BC Ferries website crashed Monday morning.
“There is pent-up demand. And as we move forward towards the end of June, we will be ramping up to our full summer schedule. So, customers can expected lots of extra sailings,’ said Deborah Marshall, BC Ferries’ executive director of public affairs.
In anticipation of an influx of customers, the company also brought in more staff.
“Now that this is being lifted, we’re able to welcome customers on board for whatever reason they want to travel whether it be recreational or essential travel purposes only. So, a very exciting day,” Marshall said.
She said ferries will run on a regular summer schedule by at the of June and advises if people want to avoid line-ups, they should try and book in advance or travel during off-peak times.
While BC Ferries are sailing at 70 per cent capacity, it hopes to expand that in the near future.