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New B.C. COVID-19 restrictions having a devastating impact on tourism industry

Click to play video 'B.C. tourism industry worries new health orders will further hurt business' B.C. tourism industry worries new health orders will further hurt business
Tourism operators say the latest provincial health orders will have a major impact on their already-struggling industry. Kylie Stanton reports – Nov 10, 2020

As parts of B.C. grapple with new restrictions to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus, one industry is sounding the alarm over the impact to businesses and livelihoods.

The tourism sector, usually starting to gear up for a busy winter season are now facing cancellations due to the new health orders in place.

In Victoria alone, revenue from tourism was down more than 70 per cent in October, according to Paul Nursey, the CEO of Destination Greater Victoria.

Read more: ‘Social gathering,’ ‘household’ clarified under new Lower Mainland COVID-19 order

“We have been doing OK, we’ve been getting a little bit of business on the weekends but now that’s going to go away and that’s going to hurt, no doubt about it,” he said.

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“Everyone understands why, but there’s no minimizing the damage that it’s caused.”

The new health order, in place until Nov. 23, does not ban, but “strongly encourages” people not to travel outside the Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health regions.

Click to play video 'Dr. Henry clarifies confusion over new provincial health order' Dr. Henry clarifies confusion over new provincial health order
Dr. Henry clarifies confusion over new provincial health order – Nov 9, 2020

“We also know that this virus was being spread when people were travelling around the province,” B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Monday.

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“This, of course, increases our risk, not just in those areas where we’re seeing increased cases but around the province. We know that this virus moves with people and it is us who have the ability to stop that transmission.”

Read more: Coronavirus pandemic has 30-40% of B.C. hotels facing insolvency, says industry

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The British Columbia Hotel Association is worried about the new restrictions.

“Our industry was devastated on the ninth of March and we’ve had a couple of pockets around the province that have done all right through the summer and fall months but we’re sitting at 30 per cent occupancy for the year, 2020, with about 50 per cent down of average rate, which means businesses are in the red,” Ingrid Jarrett from the British Columbia Hotel Association told Global News.

She said they have also not been able to access the provincial or federal funds as they are not eligible.

Click to play video 'Regional restrictions imposed to stop spread of COVID-19 in B.C.' Regional restrictions imposed to stop spread of COVID-19 in B.C.
Regional restrictions imposed to stop spread of COVID-19 in B.C – Nov 8, 2020

Jarrett added they are in constant talks with the province and the health ministries to be sure they are training their workers and operating safely so people can visit and feel safe.

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“We just need to make sure we do all the right things for all the right reasons to protect our neighbours and our businesses.”

“We need to make sure that we lead by example; that behaviour is of critical importance right now as we head into ski season. We can’t risk it not being a successful ski season this year.”

In related news, Interior Health issued a COVID-19 alert on Tuesday, stating “surging COVID-19 activity has become a concern.”

In issuing the alert, the health agency urged against non-essential travel, including “no unnecessary visits to the Lower Mainland or other jurisdictions with surging cases.”