Eased restrictions give hope to Metro Vancouver attractions hit hard by pandemic
VANCOUVER -- Some major Metro Vancouver attractions that have been hit hard by the pandemic are looking forward to travel opening up again as B.C.’s restart plan moves forward. The popular venues went from being crowded to temporarily closed in March 2020, and more than a year later they are still feeling the impact.
Science World board member and fundraising committee chair Manny Padda said the facility is operating at a loss, with a reduced capacity of 10 per cent.
“Obviously with COVID-19, we’ve had a huge hit, financial loss,” he said. “Over $13 million in revenue loss last year, and we’re continuing to try and build that up.”
The attraction has now launched a fundraising campaign intending to raise $10 million. Padda said half of the funds will go towards exhibits and galleries inside the dome, the other half will be focused on digitizing more of their programming to reach people around B.C.
“We’re at 25 per cent of our goal, and currently working towards completing that before the end of this year,” he said.
Communications manager for the Capilano Suspension Bridge Stacy Chala said the park continues to operate with a reduced capacity and hours.
“We rarely hit capacity, just due to the lack of volume that’s travelling, and that’s in British Columbia right now,” she said.
The attraction is hoping that will change, now that people can travel around B.C., and eventually around Canada once restrictions lift again for the third stage of the province’s restart plan.
“We’re looking forward to hopefully July first, seeing some inter-provincial travel,” she said. “Typically we’re quite popular with Albertans, Ontario, and Quebec, so that does bring some hope.”
Chala said the border reopening would be another big boost, and added Americans typically make up more than 30 per cent of the attraction’s visitation.
The Vancouver Aquarium remains closed to the public for now, as it has been since September.
Vice-president Clint Wright can’t say yet exactly when that will change.
“All I can say is soon, we hope,” he said. “We’re preparing, there’s lots of work for us to do still for us to be ready.”
Some of that work relates to the transition to a new owner, U.S.-based tourism company Herschend Enterprises. However, Wright said staff also need to be rehired and retrained.
“We hope to be hiring locally here within the next few weeks,” he said. “Could we be open next month at some time? That’s the push and we’re pushing to a goal, but if it’s not safe or we’re not ready to do so, we won’t. So we won’t force the issue.”
This stage of B.C.’s restart plan doesn’t affect how the open attractions are operating at the moment, in terms of safety protocols such as timed entries, which remain in place for now.