Wild weather has mixed effect on tourism in British Columbia – BC News

Business owners in British Columbia’s tourism sector are thankful that the so-called Atmospheric River, which dumped up to 230mm of rain in parts of the province from November 13 to 15, arrived during its season intermediate.

Summer tourists are long gone, while ski resorts have yet to open and holiday season tours are over a month away.

Before the storm, which caused flooding and evacuations to pockets across the province, including the entire town of Merritt, which has a population of 7,000, executives at the 210-room Kelowna Sandman Hotel & Suites expected to be 60% occupied, training Abhi Rawat told BIV.

“We’re fully booked,” he said, adding that the hotel was offering evacuees a government rate and that the hotel would be compensated for these reductions by the BC government’s emergency services department.

A series of landslides and washouts closed all highways connecting the Lower Mainland to the interior. Some motorists got stranded on Route 1, between Sumas Way and Whatcom Road, in Abbotsford.

The people who managed to get out of this impasse provided business to hotels, like the Abbotsford Hotel, on Clearbrook Road, just off the freeway.

Receptionist Raj Sidhu told BIV that guests occupied 40 of his hotel’s 42 rooms on November 15, with most bookings being last-minute online bookings.

He said he believed many of those customers were motorists who had no intention of spending the night in a hotel and that on a standard night in mid-November, the hotel would be busy. at about 45%.

Often when it rains on the coast, the inland mountains receive snow.

The atmospheric river, however, carried water and warmer air that flooded the Big White Ski Resort, which was scheduled to open on November 25.

“We lost about a foot of snow,” Big White vice president of sales and marketing Michael Ballingall told BIV. “We had a base of about 50 cm and we are now only about 22 cm. “

He said he was concerned that a section of the Coquihalla Highway, between Hope and Merritt, had been washed away.

“That’s where all of our shopping comes from, for all of our restaurants,” he said. “Our customers are taking this route. People who come from overseas go on ski safaris – visit Big White, Revelstoke, Kicking Horse, that’s what they do. They rent a car in Vancouver, and do a little tour. We therefore respond to calls from people concerned. [about the roads]. “

The damage to the Coquihalla Highway appears to be significant and government officials have yet to plan a date when the highway could reopen.

The good news is that the Okanagan wine region should be able to weather the storm, Wine Growers British Columbia CEO Miles Prodan told BIV.

One of the challenges could be that wineries are struggling to deliver wine to customers. However, November is as slow a time of year for wine tourists as it is for viticulture. Most of the fruit has been picked, he explained.

Some wineries have left grapes on the vines with the intention of making ice wine, but this year was shaping up to be a low yielding year for ice wine, with only 80 tonnes of grapes saved to be left on the vines, and only four wineries registered to pick these grapes and make the wine.

In order to make icewine, wineries must register their intention with the BC Wine Authority, which is the regulator of BC VQA.

British Columbia’s hotel industry is also unlikely to be affected by the storm, according to BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association CEO Ian Tostenson.

“I think everything will be fine except for the disruption of the supply chain inside,” he said. “It’s going to be a problem, but it was already a problem, and it’s just going to be exasperated. This is an interim period for us.

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