Some Parksville Qualicum Beach area businesses are bracing for a slow summer.
“We’ve done quite a bit of work to be able to grow business in the shoulder in the off-seasons but without summer, it’s pretty hard for most businesses to make it through,” said Blain Sepos, executive director for Parksville Qualicum Beach Tourism.
Sepos said for now, all they can do is help the community access the information and assistance available to them. There’s government assistance amid the COVID-19 pandemic that some businesses can take advantage of, and ways they can alter their plans to be in line with health regulations.
Although Phase 3 may be on the horizon, it still doesn’t give a true inclination of what the summer of 2020 will look like for the area.
“What we’ve been doing up to now is we’ve really shifted our focus from marketing to visitors and encouraging them to visit now, to shifting the language to keeping us in their hearts and their minds for when it is safe to travel again,” said Sepos.
He said another thing the association has been doing is promoting businesses that are open, in hopes that locals will support them.
He said there’s not a dollar figure available on what the economic impact will be in the area, but that they do know that visitors from outside of the province contribute significantly to the area’s tourism sector.
“Up until the end of Phase 3, there’s no interprovincial or international travel allowed,” he said. “So we know that B.C. visitors, they contribute… about half the visitation throughout B.C., but B.C. residents don’t spend as much money as other visitors do, so we still might get roughly half of the visitors if things go as well as planned for the rest of the summer, but they don’t spend as much money, so again it puts the businesses in a bit of a grey area.”
Sepos said the lack of tourism isn’t just a problem for the classic visitor spots – it affects the whole area.
“Every business in the Parksville Qualicum Beach, our whole area, is in some way affected by visitors,” he said. “Even though a person may not readily identify themselves as being in the visitor industry or being employed by them, since tourism is our number one export, it affects us across the board.
“It’s really hard to gauge how much impact there will be when this is all said and done.”