Samantha Lenz, resort manager for Oceanside RV Resort, says she continues to turn people away, who are looking for a permanent spot to winter on the Saanich Peninsula. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)(Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Sidney operators avoid the worst of declining tourism industry

Chamber of Commerce expects rising interest from snowbirds

First the bad, predictable news. COVID-19 cost tourism operators dearly as tourism spending in Canada fell by two-thirds (66.3 per cent) in the second quarter, in the wake of travel restrictions and physical distancing measures across Canada. Compared to the rest of the economy (which contracted by 11.5 per cent in the second quarter), the Canadian tourism sector contracted by 66.4 per cent, with job losses correspondingly higher.

But this grim picture brightens somewhat when held up against the local picture. While granular data is not readily available, Denny Warner, executive director of the Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, points to anecdotal evidence that the worst bypassed Sidney.

“We actually found that there were a fair number of tourists in Sidney,” she said. Smaller destinations did not suffer the same sort of declines that larger centres experienced.

“I know that the hoteliers still struggled a bit, that there were a lot of people being comfortable in trailers or camping,” she said. “So those people don’t tend to spend as much.” This said, local retailers reported numbers that were generally better than expected.

RELATED: B.C. tourism industry seeks nearly half of COVID-19 recovery fund

RELATED: B.C. tourism seeks relief as businesses wait for COVID-19 restrictions to ease

“And I still think heading into the winter, we are actually in a better position than a lot of other communities, because people are looking to this area,” she said.

Snowbirds who would typically go to south are looking to come here for the winter, said Warner. “So we will be seeing a fair amount of their dollars circulating through the community.”

Demand, she added, is off the chart, with local tourism operators having to turn people away. “That’s the sad part,” she said. “We just don’t have options for people on the Peninsula. If you are looking for a business right now, open your field to RVers.”

Samantha Lenz, resort manager for Oceanside RV Resort located on Tswout First Nation, has experienced both ends. “So they (Tswout First Nation) made the decision to close to visitors, so we did not have any recreational campers (during the summer),” she said. “So it was extremely quiet for us.”

Now, Lenz has to turn people away, as interest has “definitely” been higher.

“We are always open year-round, but we were already taking a wait list in August for people who are wanting to stay over the winter, and that is abnormal for us,” she said. “It’s not abnormal to get a call or two a day from people still looking somewhere to stay this winter.”

Lenz said a lot of calls are coming from British Columbia, but also from other parts of the country. “It (the higher demand) is not really us fazing us too much, but the fact that we have to turn people away and can’t help as many people as we would like to is unfortunate. But we are trying to send them to other properties that are also open during the winter who might not have as many people as normally.”

For Lenz, the current demand is just another twist in what has been an eventful year to say the least.

“It was a slow summer and now it is going to be a busy winter, which is adding a bit to the craziness,” she said. “But we are managing through it. “


Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Voters in Saanich North and the Islands, here lining up outside Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre on the first day of advanced voting, are among the provincial leaders in getting in their votes early, with some 20 per cent (10,174) of eligible voters have already cast their ballots. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
It’s Election Day in B.C.: Here’s what you need to know to vote

B.C.’s snap election has already broken records for advance voter turnout, mail-in ballots

Plastic Ocean by Oak Bay resident Gabriela Hirt is in the Federation of Canadian Artist’s “Crisis” exhibition on now in Vancouver. (Gabriela Hirt/cropped to fit)
Oak Bay artist wins juried show in Vancouver

Pair of Oak Bay artists part of ‘Crisis’ exhibition

The M’akola Housing Society is looking to build two new residences in Sooke to help provide affordable accommodation for local Indigenous people. The projects were granted nearly $1.1 million toward their construction through the Regional Housing Trust Fund. (Photo courtesy M’Akola Housing Society)
Regional Housing First Program strikes another chord in Greater Victoria

Affordable housing partnership grants will help house over 100 people on income assistance

Online reservation service, First Table, allows Victoria diners to have dinner at half-price if they’re willing to be flexible about when they go. (Black Press Media file photo)
New reservation service allows Victoria residents to dine out at half price

First Table gives Victoria diners 50 per cent off when they book tables during off-peak hours

The 21st annual Japanese Cultural Fair streams online Oct. 24 from noon to 3 p.m. (Facebook/Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society)
Esquimalt’s Japanese Cultural Fair takes tastes, experiences and cultures online

21st annual free event streams Saturday, Oct. 24 starting at noon

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

The possibility of the Canadian Premier League expanding to the Fraser Valley has been floated online. (Facebook photo)
Canadian Premier League possibly eyeing Fraser Valley expansion

Soccer league looking to add ninth team to the mix, B.C. markets potentially rumoured

Most Read