Tourist-related industries have had a hard year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the related travel bans in B.C., across the country and internationally. (File photo)

Tourist-related industries have had a hard year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the related travel bans in B.C., across the country and internationally. (File photo)

Cowichan Valley tourism feeling tight pinch from pandemic

Charting a course for recovery necessary, as about 37 per cent can’t pay their bills right now

Tourism-related businesses in the Cowichan Valley have seen their revenues drop by as much as 40 per cent since the COVID-19 pandemic began last year.

Approximately 37 per cent of those businesses can’t pay their bills, and 21 per cent are temporarily closed due to the pandemic, according to Karen Bannister, director of destination marketing for Tourism Vancouver Island.

Speaking to the board at the Cowichan Valley Regional District on May 12, a delegation headed by Bannister and Janet Docherty, president of the Tourism Cowichan Society, told board members that the situation for tourism-related businesses in the Valley, and beyond, is becoming increasingly concerning, particularly with the new travel restrictions within B.C. that have been recently announced.

RELATED STORY: CANADIAN TOURISM SECTOR SHRANK BY NEARLY HALF IN 2020 AS COVID-19 RAVAGES INDUSTRY

Bannister said the industry knows the situation it’s in and it needs to look forward and chart a course for recovery.

“We don’t know when the virus will be contained and what kind of supply chain will be intact when people are able to travel again,” she said. “Because many of these businesses are so heavily impacted by the pandemic [and travel restrictions], we don’t know which of them will survive through this.

“We also expect there will be some communities and First Nations that may not welcome visitors when it’s considered safe to travel again, and the consumers may have some hesitancy as well. It’s a very vulnerable business sector right now.”

Bannister said the domestic market is believed to be the key to recovery for the industry, and the people on Vancouver Island need to be encouraged to explore their own backyards when regional travel is allowed again.

She said the tourist sector should then look to the Lower Mainland and the rest of B.C. to draw people here and begin to recoup some of their losses from the pandemic.

RELATED STORY: B.C. TOURISM INDUSTRY MAY BE CHALLENGED WITH PENT-UP DEMAND: ECONOMIST

“The most immediate reasons for travel, once regional travelling is allowed, is expected to be for people to revisit family and friends, as well as familiar places,” Bannister said.

“So it will be an opportunity for communities in the Cowichan Valley to position themselves as places to revisit and welcome everyone back home.

“We believe there is a lot of opportunities here and we’re now focused on developing a strong sense of place. We all need to work together collaboratively to help this sector.”

Tim McGonigle, the director for Lake Cowichan on the CVRD board, said the whole Cowichan Valley suffered as a tourist destination during the pandemic.

“I encourage all the 80,000 people in the Valley to concentrate on the tourist entities in their region before moving on outside of the local area,” he said.

“It’s very important that we help this industry because there are some areas in the Valley that are very dependent on visitors.”

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Tourism

Just Posted

Rick Ruppenthal of Saltair will host a 12-hour talk-a-thon Friday, June 18 over Facebook live. (Photo submitted)
Talk-a-thon to focus on men’s mental health issues

Saltair man spearheading a campaign to generate more conversation during fundraiser

Julie Nygaard’s By Moonlight Raven Flight is one of the photo-artist works in her show Through My Eyes – A Visual Journey, which will be featured at Rainforest Arts through August. (Photo submitted)
Photographer-painter Nygaard featured at Rainforest Arts

Real images enhanced through digital means to create compelling art

Filming of The Baker’s Son in Chemainus. (File photo by Don Bodger)
Bread-making brilliance and mediocrity the recipe for movie ingredients

Willow Street on the map as a prominent location in The Baker’s Son

The return of Community Policing will be a welcome addition by residents. (File photo by Don Bodger)
Return of Community Policing in the works

Volunteers being sought and coordinators to be announced soon

Sonia Furstenau, MLA
Proposed Health Professions Act would eliminate barriers, guide regulations

Is your doctor a member of good standing with the BC College… Continue reading

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

Cowichan Tribes man Adrian Sylvester is worried that he was targetted by a trailer hitch thrown from a vehicle. (Facebook photo)
Cowichan Tribes man worried he was target of trailer hitch

Adrian Sylvester says no one has reported a missing hitch after one nearly hit him

Most Read