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

HMCS Corner Brook returned to Victoria’s waters for the first time since 2015 on June 10. (Courtesy of the Royal Canadian Navy)
WATCH: Navy surveillance submarine returning to Victoria waters

HMCS Corner Brook one of first submarines to receive new communications systems

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes following provincial reopening announcement

Recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

A new multi-family residential project at the corner of Hillside Avenue and Cook Street will feature nine below market-priced units aimed at middle-income, first-time homebuyers, through a partnership between BC Housing and the developer. (Courtesy City of Victoria)
Middle-income first time homebuyers gain access to nine homes in Victoria

BC Housing partners with development community to create affordable purchases

Suspect found with tools, copper piping in Oak Bay commercial block

Police briefs include missing dinghy, speed stop turned impaired, wallet swiped from unlocked car

(Black Press Media file photo)
COVID-19 exposure closes Oak Bay pub, restaurant

Penny Farthing, Vis-a-Vis expected to reopen Wednesday after deep clean

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Neighbourhood on edge of Nanaimo city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Darren Campbell’s truck (pictured) was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
Vancouver Island Good Samaritan’s truck stolen in nasty trick

‘Try to be a Good Samaritan and my $20,000 truck gets stolen right under my nose’

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Creative handmade signs abound at the June 13 Tofino rally for old growth trees. (Nora O’Malley photo)
VIDEO: Tofino stands in solidarity for Fairy Creek Blockades

Over 150 supporters attend rally hosted by Friends of Clayoquot Sound

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials watching U.K.’s Delta variant struggles, ‘may need to slow’ restart plan

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Most Read