Tourism officials are relying on British Columbians to make the most of their own backyard this summer as they brace for an almost 70 per cent decline in annual revenue and employment.
Summer officially began Saturday, kicking off what’s expected to be a very different peak tourist season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
With international travel halted, Destination BC is planning for $7 billion in revenue and fewer than 50,000 employees in 2020 – down from $21.5 billion and 166,000 workers in 2019.
“About half of it is generated from international tourists from the U.S. and from overseas, ” Maya Lange of Destination BC told Global News.
“So it’s quite an important hit, quite a big hit.”
Once the province rolls out its Phase 3 restart and lifts travel restrictions between communities, an Explore BC campaign will launch promoting 2020 as the year of the staycation.
The goal is for locals to help offset the losses and save what’s left of a disastrous year for tourism in B.C.
“Many businesses are in dire straits, ” said Lange.
Popular tourist destinations like Steveston Village and Fisherman’s Wharf in Richmond rely on international visitors to survive, and according to local merchants, the summer months are critical.
“For a lot of the businesses in Steveston, international tourism is something that really can make or break them throughout the summer,” Laura Stapleton with the Steveston Merchants Association said.
Like other businesses across the province, shop and restaurant owners in the historic seaside village are hoping British Columbians will consider spending some of their vacation time and money, right here at home.
“They’re going to be heavily depending on our locals to help them make it through,” Stapleton told Global News.