FILE – A B.C. Ferry is seen arriving at Horseshoe Bay near West Vancouver on March 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

FILE – A B.C. Ferry is seen arriving at Horseshoe Bay near West Vancouver on March 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

‘Can’t afford to lose another summer’: B.C. tourism group supports COVID travel rules

Details of new measures expected to be released Friday

The organization representing tourism operators in B.C. said they’re “supportive” of new travel measures announced Monday (April 19) to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Walt Judas, CEO of Tourism Industry Association of BC, said the group has been working with the province on trying to get a handle on the pandemic, which in B.C. has reached record-breaking heights in recent weeks.

Judas said that while the association would not want to see a travel ban, they are hoping the more stringent measures – details of which are expected Friday – will help operators turn away out-of-region travellers.

He said that prior pleas and recommendations to stay local were “open to interpretation” in a way he hopes the new order will not be. While details of the new orders were not announced Monday, Premier John Horgan did provide some clues.

“If you live in the Fraser Health area, by all means, take a few days, get outside, perhaps go to a campground in your local area but do not try and book somewhere outside of your area because a tourism operator in that community will not book you passage.”

The travel restrictions will be in place through at least the May long weekend, and will include “random audits” of people travelling between health regions.

Judas said the clarity expected Friday will help tourism operators by giving them government backing.

“We can also say unequivocally now to our guests who are planning to book some travel to British Columbia: Why are you travelling here? Are you aware of the official order that’s in place?” Judas said.

“There are lots of things that we can communicate, that was really more difficult to communicate before.”

He also urged people to not take liberties, even when allowed, with the restrictions by travelling from one edge of a health authority to another.

Judas said the reaction has been mixed.

“Not everybody will like it. Not everybody will be in agreement,” he said. “But on the other hand, I think from what we’ve heard, tourism operators are very fearful that we’re going to lose another summer, or see more stringent restrictions come summer unless we do something today.”

For people looking to explore their local region over the next few weeks, Judas had a few messages: “Stay local, shop local, support local, follow the order and stay home, stay as close to home as possible.”

READ MORE: Out-of-region B.C. vacation bookings, RV ferry reservations to be refused, Horgan says

READ MORE: Toddler marks youngest British Columbian to die related to COVID-19


@katslepian

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