Vancouver Island resorts voluntarily close after officials issue travel advisory

Vancouver Island resorts voluntarily close after officials issue travel advisory
WatchA travel advisory is in place for all of B.C. encouraging people to avoid non-essential travel, even in the province. Even though it's not an official order, hotel resorts all over the Island are still voluntary closing. Jasmine Bala has more.

Several resorts on Vancouver Island are voluntarily closing.

The Wickaninnish Inn in Tofino and the Yellow Point Lodge in Ladysmith are among those closing temporarily after B.C. health officials issued a travel advisory urging people to avoid non-essential travel.

“Yes, you can move about within your region,” explained Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, on Thursday. “If you live in Penticton, you can go to Summerland. If you live in Victoria, though, and you want to go to Tofino, not such a good idea right now.”

The management staff at Wickaninnish Inn were watching the briefing when Henry made the remarks and immediately took action.

“We in Tofino, we love our visitors, we appreciate them,” said Charles McDiarmid, managing director at the inn. “We know they love the destination and all of the properties here but now is obviously just not the time.”

So McDiarmid and his team decided to voluntarily, temporarily close their doors.

“For us, the decision to close was an easy one,” he explained. “Because in terms of priority, when you consider health versus business, it’s pretty clear that health rules every single time.”

The Inn is no longer accepting new guests but is servicing those already staying there until they leave. Guests that had reservations are being called to reschedule or cancel.

The Yellow Point Lodge made the same decision.

“Tomorrow afternoon, after all our guests get their lunch, they leave and nobody else comes back,” said Richard Hill, owner-operator of the lodge.

The lodge will be closed for two weeks, until Dec. 7, with the possibility of an extended closure depending on if the travel advisory stays in place. Although the staff have had to make many phone calls to reschedule or cancel clients — the feedback they’ve received is positive.

“The response, even from people who were booked to arrive and were looking forward to their holiday, has been positive,” said Hill, adding the lodge has received messages of support from guests saying “this is the right thing to do.”

Black Rock Oceanfront Resort in Ucluelet has also stopped accepting reservations for non-essential travel. They remain open for those travelling for essential reasons.

READ MORE: New restrictions introduced in British Columbia as 538 new cases of COVID-19 reported

Non-essential travel, according to the province’s website, includes travelling for a vacation or visiting friends and family outside of your household or core bubble.

Essential travel within B.C. includes regular travel for work within your region and travelling to medical appointments and hospital visits.

If you are unsure whether your travel counts as essential, Henry said, postpone it.

“Postpone it to a time when we have better management of the transmission that we’re seeing in our communities right now,” she said.

Jasmine BalaJasmine Bala

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