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Kootenays tourism industry feels unheard: Letter to Premier

Tourism industry wants Albertan travellers to be welcomed when non-essential travel ban lifted

Kootenay tourism organizations have sent a letter to Premier John Horgan expressing concern on the COVID-19 reopening plan.

The province is entering Phase 3 of its COVID-19 restart plan, which calls for travel only within B.C.

According to multiple B.C. tourism organizations that plan has deficiencies.

“This inability to genuinely pay attention to what is happening here, and about to happen, is not just heartbreaking but causing the industry to feel unheard and in distress,” the letter said.

Instead, the tourism organizations suggest to allow inter-provincial travel.

The letter says not allowing Alberta travellers this summer will decimate the tourism economy in the Kootenays. It furthered the closure of BC Parks to out of province travellers indicates Albertans are not welcome in B.C.

“Our region sees very little traffic from the rest of B.C., so marketing to fellow British Columbians will not revive our struggling sector nor fill that gap.”

The continual rescheduling of when non-essential travel will be allowed is a major issue as travellers need time to book their trips and and the industry needs time to prepare for visitors that are coming.

The letter also claims the tourism sector, businesses on the coast and in larger cities are receiving more attention and support.

“Are travellers not looking for ‘less faces and open spaces’?”

Suggested solutions include allowing Albertans to visit as part of Phase 3 or allow travel within 500 km of home.

“Communities and businesses are following health guidelines and know best how to manage their tourism economies while keeping residents and visitors safe,” the letter reads.

The organizations are calling for clear dates on when non-essential travel opens and the geographical phases within Canada and beyond.

“Then we can all plan for it which will give businesses a much better chance of survival.”

The premier is invited to tour some of the communities and hear from the sector and a diverse amount of small businesses on how COVID-19, provincial and federal decisions are uniquely impacting the region.

“The temporary wage and rent subsidies are a band-aid and very short term,” the letter said. “Tourism businesses need ‘business’ to survive or grant funding to be made available to them, as without them our industry would not exist.”

The letter was signed by Destination Castlegar, Tourism Revelstoke, Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism, Tourism Rossland and Creston Tourism, among other organizations.

Trail Daily Times