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)

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)

Tourism operators hope Canadian Snowbirds flock to B.C.

Provincial tourism industry hopes to compensate ‘monumental financial losses and hardship’

Regional and provincial tourism organizations are hoping Canadian Snowbirds will flock to Vancouver Island for the winter in creating a new resource for them.

The partnership between the Columbia Hotel Association (BCHA) and Tourism Vancouver Island (TVI) will create a resource under the title Venture West This Winter that will allow Canadian Snowbirds, here defined as residents who travel to warmer destinations (usually the United States) during colder months, to book accommodations, educate themselves on safety protocols for the communities and plan ahead in helping them to live like locals.

Anthony Everett, president and chief executive officer of Tourism Vancouver Island, said the temperate winter climate of Vancouver Island makes it a “natural alternative” for Canadian snowbirds.

“We are committed to supporting the survival of the 3,000-plus tourism businesses in the Vancouver Island region by adapting our target visitor and forging deep partnerships and collaboration, including with BCHA, to strengthen the visitor economy,” he said.

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Ingrid Jarrett, president and chief executive officer of the BC Hotel Association, said the provincial accommodation has “suffered monumental financial losses and hardship” because of COVID-19’s impact on travel.

“With the Canada-U.S. border closed for the foreseeable future, the fall (and) winter off-season poses particularly threatening challenges to the tourism industry,” she said.

This reality, she added, requires what she called an “innovative look” with Canadian Snowbirds posing a promising “opportunity.”

TVI and BCHA said in a release that they hope this partnership will serve as a successful model that can be replicated across the province.

In 2018, B.C.’s tourism sector generated $20.5 billion in revenue, supporting over 19,300 businesses and more than 300,000 employees.


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wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com