Tourism officials tell would-be visitors to B.C. to stay away – for now
VANCOUVER -- The goal of the latest video promoting tourism to British Columbia is to do the opposite: keep would-be visitors away during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The video was released by Destination British Columbia, the organization that markets B.C. to the world. It layers lush images of the province with a voice-over that tells tourists, "right now, distance is more important than ever... For now, we pause, stay in and dream of later."
"It’s quite a shift in terms of our message we’d normally be sending this time of year," said Maya Lange, Destination British Columbia’s vice president of global marketing.
Normally, the organization would be marketing to international tourists, especially those arriving on cruise ships leaving Vancouver for Alaska.
In addition to catering to foreign tourists, Destination B.C. would also be targeting locals who would typically be planning camping or road trips for the upcoming Easter long weekend and beyond.
But such travel is being discouraged by Health Minister Adrian Dix.
"It's just not the time to travel, to travel for tourism purposes within British Columbia or anywhere else. This is the time to stay to stay close, to stay home to the maximum extent possible," he said Thursday.
The goal from a health standpoint is to protect smaller and remote communities from the virus’ spread because they don’t have the same health infrastructure as larger towns and cities.
Tourism-dependent Tofino already took the unprecedented step of asking visitors to go home.
"Now is the time to focus on the community, to reserve those precious health-care resources on the people who live here and aren't able to leave," said Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne.
Lange said the impact of COVID-19 on B.C.’s tourism sector will be "devastating," given that 167,000 people are employed in the $20 billion industry.
Destination British Columbia is planning a "significant domestic campaign" which will be launched once it is safe to do so.
Lange urged would-be travellers to make their wish list.
"I know we’re all sitting at home and dreaming of getting out and getting into nature again, going hiking, but all of that has to just wait a little while longer," she said.