Parksville Community Park was busy again on Monday as the wide beach at low tide was dotted with blankets and umbrellas and the parking lots were almost full with many vehicles from Alberta.
It is seen as an indication that tourism is opening up again on Vancouver Island.
“I’m seeing an increase in traffic, I’m hearing from business owners in the service industry an increase in their businesses, restaurants, resort accommodations, it’s getting busy again,” said Kim Burden, Executive Director of Parksville and District Chamber of Commerce and Qualicum Beach Chamber of Commerce.
Officials say Parksville-Qualicum tourism generally sees visitors from B.C. and other parts of Canada and they are beginning to return although statistics on accommodation bookings for the summer months aren’t in yet.
“So we’re seeing a significant return to pre-covid numbers although we’re certainly not there yet,” added Burden. “The resorts are doing OK, we’ve noticed an increase in campers and motorhomes as well and campgrounds are pretty full.”
In Greater Victoria, international travellers make up a larger percentage of visitors and so far they haven’t been allowed to cross the border.
“People are booking but my understanding is during the week there is still room to make a booking at a hotel,” said Anthony Everett of Tourism Vancouver Island. “Weekends are busier so things are starting to open up and all this is expected but I think the concern if we have one is that we need the borders open that’s the biggest concern we have.”
International travellers tend to spend more on excursions like whale watching so those operators are not seeing as quick of a rebound.
“That’s a broad range, it could be fishing, it could be adventure parks all those kinds of things and their numbers were down last year and they’re down this year and really borders opening up to internationals is what we’re all going to need to get back to where we were in 2019,” said Everett.