Tourism in the PQB area was significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. (NEWS file photo)

Tourism-based businesses in Parksville Qualicum Beach bouncing back

Industry insiders say initial effects of COVID still being felt

Business is better for the tourism sector of Parksville Qualicum Beach than it was in the early months of the pandemic.

But people in the business say there’s still cause for concern.

Patrick Jiggins, business owner and chair of the Parksville Qualicum Beach Tourism Association, said many businesses have bounced back since the onset of COVID-19, but the initial effects are still being felt.

“Because the Island is doing so well, everyone on Vancouver Island doesn’t want to go on the ferry pretty much, including myself and so everyone is booking holidays who live on Vancouver Island, but then also people from other parts of B.C. and Canada,” he said.

“I think that maybe the resorts are down 10 per cent, but if you told us that back in the middle of March, we would have grabbed that in a heartbeat.”

Jiggins said the main concern is how businesses will make it through the fall, winter and spring. It’s already a typically difficult time for tourism-based businesses and Jiggins said people will need help getting through. He said his hope is that government subsidies and supports already in place will be extended until the spring.

“It’s a very intricate thing because, like I said, there’s some people that are doing OK and there’s some people that aren’t and it’s like the federal government, you can’t pick and choose your battles, you got to do a blanket fix and sometimes that doesn’t help everyone,” he said.

“Definitely there’s a lot of people that need some help in a lot of different areas and unfortunately, it’s funding that’s going to help that… the tourism association as a whole, provincially, needs help.”

READ MORE: COVID-19: Tourism Vancouver Island aims to help businesses survive

Sandy Herle, owner of Close to You Ladies Fashion and PQBTA board member, has also seen businesses in the area pick up.

“When COVID hit, it hit with a sledgehammer and it was really difficult for tourism businesses,” she said. “Certainly the tourism area needs assistance to continue through this…July and August have been busier, but then of course there’s the fall, December, January.”

Herle said there’s no way to make a specific plan, but said a combination of financial and other types of assistance will be key for the slow seasons ahead.

“It’s been a tough transition for many… we’re just looking at ways that we can all make it through this terrific transition that we’re not really sure where the end is yet,” she said. “People say maybe this is the new normal now…if anyone knew when this was going to be over then you could plan.”

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