Visitors told to drive Tofino detour only if trip is essential

Visitors told to drive Tofino detour only if trip is essential
Parking lots in Tofino are usually packed this time of year, but due to the Cameron Bluffs wildfire closing the only paved route to the district, Tofino is almost empty of tourists.

Typically in June, beaches, roads and restaurants in Tofino are packed with tourists, but the Cameron Bluffs wildfire closing the only paved route to the district means visitors are staying away.

“Business is very slow right now,” said Myles Beeby with Zed’s Hotel in Tofino.

Beeby says 28 of their 30 reservations Monday cancelled.

“As long as they’re saying essential travel only, we’re discouraging people from coming up, which you know is a double-edged sword,” said Beeby.

The only paved way into Tofino and Ucluelet is closed indefinitely. Officials are suggesting the logging road detour be used for essential traffic only.

“We are working closely with the provincial government, and therefore are asking visitors who are planning travel to the coast via the detour, to decide if their trip is considered essential,” said Danielle Fox, a representative for Tourism Tofino.

“We are monitoring updates and current advisories via TranBC and DriveBC and suggest travellers do the same. In addition, many regional air services, including floatplane operators, have put on additional flights to help individuals get in and out of west coast regions, which has been incredibly helpful.”

As a result of the road closure, the tourist town of Tofino is taking a hit.

“I’ve definitely had a few cancellations when it came to proposal announcements and family shoots,” said Chelsea Gray, lead photographer and owner of Wild Coast Love Photography in Tofino. “But when it comes to weddings, people are very determined to get over here.”

People like Hope Moir and Sebastien Follmer who scrambled and gambled to make sure their special day went ahead this past weekend.

“It was absolutely perfect, despite the stress it took to get there,” said Moir. “We kinda got a sense of what the road was like and felt that it was going to be safe for us to drive. It wasn’t just a regular camping trip that we normally do to Tofino every summer, this was a bit bigger, something so so important to us, with a decent amount of money on the line.”

For locals the road closure is bittersweet. On the one hand, there are no lineups at favourite haunts like Tacofino.

“People are kind of reveling in the emptiness of the beach right now,” said Gray.

On the other, people are concerned about this slowdown of visitors effect on Tofino resident’s survival.

“Restaurants are closing early or not opening at all and there’s a lot of staff worried about that next rent payment,” said Beeby.

But Tofitians are used to being cut off from fires, washouts, construction, or a pandemic.

“We know this won’t last forever, we know we’re just all in it together,” said Beeby.

For the foreseeable future though, there are no lines for locals and no guarantee of when they might come back for the tourist town.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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