Tourism operators across Vancouver Island are preparing for the lifting of travel restrictions and on the west coast, they’re getting ready to welcome non-essential visitors for the first time since November.
The iconic Wickinninish Inn is now accepting reservations again. It comes seven months after the Inn’s management decided in light of travel restrictions to fully close.
“We’ve been waiting for this day so long, it feels like the last 500 yards of a marathon so it’s exciting. It’s a little nervous because we’ve been closed for so long,” said Charles McDiarmid, the Inn’s Managing Director.
Starting Friday (June 4) it, along with the rest of Tofino and Ucluelet will be welcoming Vancouver Islanders to come for a getaway as B.C. starts lifting travel restrictions.
While the hotel was able to tap into federal and provincial support, the closure has taken a toll, with losses in the millions.
Down the highway in Ucluelet, business at the Black Rock Resort has been down 70 per cent, but the resort’s general manager says people are anxious to travel again.
“Certainly, they are locally and I think when the message came out that they were free to travel across Vancouver Island they were really happy about that and the phones did start ringing. We’ve certainly seen a lot of bookings in the last 24 hours,” said Adele Larkin.
Ucluelet’s mayor says many businesses, such as fishing charters and kayak rentals, have been hit hard and he’s hoping what he’s been hearing in the past few days will mean the summer will be strong.
“One of the fellows I ran into this morning. He’s had zero bookings over the last four or five months and in the last 24 hours he’s had over 10 bookings and again that’s giving them a ray of hope,” said Mayco Noel.
The Wickaninnish Inn is offering May rates in June for Vancouver Islanders, representing more than a 25 per cent discount, and Tourism Tofino says a number of operators are also offering deals.
“I think that’s a fairly common practice right now and it’s great because Vancouver Islanders can get out and explore the Island and save a little money at the same time, so perhaps go out a little further than you have before [and] explore something that you never have before,” said Nancy Cameron, Tourism Tofino’s Executive Director.
People will be able to travel throughout B.C. as early as June 15 and national travel will be allowed again as early as July 1.