COVID-19 disclaimer: As recommended by BC’s provincial health officer, if you choose to take part in recreational activities in public spaces please adhere to coronavirus health safety measures, including proper physical distancing, wearing a mask, and remaining at home if you show symptoms of cold or flu.
Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne says that “residents and small businesses are looking forward to welcome” visitors back as British Columbia enters Phase 3 of its four-step restart plan.
Premier John Horgan announced that the province would enter Phase 3 earlier this week, which includes allowing residents to take part in smart, safe, and respectful travel within BC.
The coastal community says they’re excited and prepared to welcome back visitors, although this year’s trip “won’t be like any other.”
“Businesses and local residents are reminding everyone to slow down, practice patience, and life on ‘Tofino time,'” says a joint statement from Tofino and the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations.
“It isn’t going to be a typical summer in Tofino. It isn’t going to feel like the visit you’ve had in the past,” Osborne said in an earlier interview with Daily Hive. “It could be as little as waiting in line to get a taco, or being patient with an accommodation provider if your visit needs to be changed.”
Tourism is a massive economic driver in Tofino, and Osborne estimates the industry brings in about a quarter of a billion dollars every year. It provides about 2,500 jobs in the town with a population of just under 2,000 by the most recent census count.
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What a Phase 3 hotel stay might look like
The Wickannish Inn reopened to visitors on Friday, June 26, after closing to guests in mid-March. At this point in time, the property is accepting bookings from all residents of Canada.
When guests drive up to check-in, they’ll be greeted in their cars at the property gate. Cars will be allowed to unload one at a time. Staff wearing gloves and masks will offer assistance carrying luggage but won’t touch personal items unless instructed to.
The hotel rooms won’t get their usual daily cleaning and nightly turndown service to minimize contact between staff and guests. When guests check out, staff will wait until the next morning to clean the room. All suites will be empty for at least 24 hours before the next guest checks in.
Occupancy will be much lower than usual, between 70% to 75% of maximum capacity for the 2020 summer season.
Health and safety measures to consider in advance
While businesses have reopened over the past few weeks with strict sanitation, hygiene, and physical distancing protocols, “safety remains the top priority.”
Before visiting the area, guests are encouraged to stay home if they are sick and to plan ahead to ensure that areas they wish to visit are welcoming visitors.
In addition to adding outdoor dining areas to the town’s downtown core, visitors are also reminded to maintain physical distance, to wear a mask when necessary, and to take respectful precautions to protect the community.
Accommodation and activities should be booked in advance as well since businesses may not operate to full capacity and may not accept walk-ins. The geo-thermal pools at Hot Springs Cove will be unavailable through June and personal boats will not be permitted.
Local First Nations Communities, including Esowista, Ty-Histanis, Pitsaht, Ahousaht, and Hesquiaht are unable to welcome visitors at this time.
And while Highway 4 between Port Alberni and the West Coast remains open, travellers should expect delays throughout the summer due to ongoing construction.
A current list of openings in Tofino can be found here.
With files from Megan Devlin