COVID-19 Updates for Visitors

West Coast Communities Thank Accommodation Providers for Staying Closed Over May Long Weekend and Visitors for Their Understanding

PACIFIC RIM, B.C. – As the Province of BC continues to restrict non-essential travel, West Coast First Nations, municipalities and community leaders are reaching out to thank local businesses for remaining closed over the upcoming May long weekend, and recognizing the patience and understanding of all those who have postponed trips to the area. COVID-19 continues to pose a risk to small, rural communities, and while the West Coast is not yet open and ready to welcome visitors, the region is preparing for the time when they can safely do so, as documented in BC’s Restart Plan.

Although most businesses across the region have closed since early April and have subsequently endured significant hardship, accommodation providers, retail stores, tour operators and restaurants are coming together to share best practices, ideas and plans for a safe and measured approach to reopening in line with provincial guidelines.

“This has been a very difficult time, but we’ve seen how individual actions and business decisions have made a real difference in flattening the curve. Everyone is making sacrifices to keep people safe. In Tofino and across British Columbia, some people are working harder than ever, while others have made very hard decisions to temporarily close businesses.” said Josie Osborne, Mayor of Tofino.

“We’re incredibly grateful for the care and concern shown by visitors to Tofino who have postponed their trips, and we are so looking forward to welcoming you back soon.”  

On May 6, 2020, the Province laid out a plan for certain services and amenities to begin to gradually reopen, however, the guidance against non-essential travel remains in place. As businesses start to implement measures to safely resume operations when the time is right, the West Coast is reminding those who may be tempted to visit that:

  • Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is closed until at least May 31st.
  • First Nations communities are completely locked down to visitors until further notice.
  • Accommodation providers, tour operators, restaurants and surf rental businesses are working to ensure that plans are in place for a safe reopening, and look forward to welcoming visitors again in the future as conditions allow.  

District of Ucluelet Mayor Mayco Noël notes, “In a normal year, May long weekend is a big deal for our local businesses. They’re all taking a hit to make sure it’s safe for visitors and residents in the long run. It’s been great to see our communities stepping up like this and getting ready together; I think we’re learning a lot about what it really means to be from small towns”.

“Ahousaht territory, beaches, trails and waters remain closed to visitors. Ahousaht supports the closure of Tofino’s business and parks in the region, and requests that tourists please continue to stay home for now. Respectfully, we’re asking you to obey our plea,” said Chief Councilor Greg Louie, Ahousaht First Nation.

Elmer Frank, Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Emergency Operations Centre Chairperson, remarked, “Our Nation has completely closed to visitors and, on a personal level, our citizens have been taking social distancing really seriously to support our most vulnerable members”.

“We have so many elders and multi-generational families, it means a lot to us to know that the region respects our needs right now,” said Saya Masso, Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Tribal Administrator.

Resources:

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Last updated: April 27, 2020

To ensure compliance with all levels of government and the recommendations from public health officials, the District of Tofino is asking residents and visitors to avoid all non-essential travel at this time. 

 

Now is the time to stay home and continue to bend the curve – not bend the rules.  The more we do now, the sooner we can begin to explore BC again. 

Recreation/Vacation Travel: We are grateful to everyone who has postponed their vacations to the area and plans to #stayhome until it is safe for our community to welcome you again. Visitors who continue to travel to small rural places like Tofino are making it harder for us to prioritize the needs of our community members and ensure that we have enough supplies to weather the storm.  We will welcome you back with open arms as soon as it’s safe to do so, until then #explorebclater. 

Part-Time Residents: We are grateful to part-time residents and second homeowners who have postponed their trips to the area and who have taken the advice of BC’s Provincial Public Health Officer to #stayhome.  With our limited medical resources, your choices help to ensure that the permanent residents of the West Coast have access to important care if they need it, and that you and your family have the same in your hometown or city.  As a part-time resident, the most important thing you can do to support this place that you treasure is to stay home in your primary residence.  We look forward to welcoming you back as soon as it’s safe to do so.   

Permanent Residents:  Non-essential travel is a two-way street.  As we ask visitors and part-time residents to stay home, it’s important that residents who live here also #stayhome.  Seek necessary supplies in your communities.  Of course, emergencies may happen, and you may need to leave the coast, but consider that if you are simply going out to get supplies, that your non-essential travel may bring the virus home and place strain and stress on other communities.  In all scenarios – please #stayhome.

We remind Vancouver Islanders, British Columbians, and all those who may be tempted to travel to the West Coast that: 

  • All Provincial parks are closed, including Maquinna Marine Provincial Park (aka Hot Springs Cove) and Kennedy Lake. 

  • First Nations communities – housing some of the most vulnerable residents of the West Coast – are completely locked down to visitors. 

  • Virtually every accommodation operator, small and large, is closed to travelers. 

  • Wildlife watching business, tour operators, and surfing rental businesses are all closed.   

  • Bars, pubs, and spas are closed. 

  • The few restaurants open to take-out are providing meals for local residents, essential workers, and health care staff.  

While we are not encouraging current travel in BC, you can explore Tofino with these virtual experiences: 

  • Tofino Chamber of Commerce - Find ways to support your favorite Tofino Businesses Online  

  • The West Coast Screech – www.thewestcoastscreech.com – hear Tofino’s voice through this fun singing contest on our community radio station (Tuff City Radio). 

  • Explore #yourtofino on social media for photos and memories of past trips. 

Local, Provincial and Federal Travel Information

Tourism Tofino – Local Travel Information 

HelloBC – Provincial Travel Information 

Travel.gc.ca – Federal Travel Information, Advice and Advisories 

 


 

URGENT APPEAL TO VISITORS AND SECOND HOME OWNERS NOT TO TRAVEL TO THE WEST COAST REGION FOR EASTER WEEKEND

April 9, 2020

PACIFIC RIM, B.C. – The First Nations, municipalities and communities of the West Coast send an urgent appeal to all potential day-trippers, visitors and second home owners to stay at home for the Easter long weekend and not visit Tofino, Ucluelet or the West Coast region.

In keeping with recommendations from every level of government and every public health official, now is not the time to travel for tourism or recreation purposes. Now is not the time to visit your second home or permit your friends to use your empty vacation rental. Now is not the time for a surfing, fishing or camping trip.

Now is the time to stay home and bend the curve – not bend the rules.

We remind Vancouver Islanders and other British Columbians who may be tempted to travel to the West Coast this weekend that:

  • Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is closed.
  • All Provincial parks are closed, including Maquinna Marine Provincial Park (aka Hot Springs Cove) and Kennedy Lake.
  • First Nations communities – housing some of the most vulnerable residents of the West Coast – are completely locked down to visitors.
  • Virtually every accommodation operator, small and large, is closed to travelers.
  • Wildlife watching business, tour operators, and surfing rental businesses are all closed.
  • Bars, pubs, and spas are closed.
  • The few restaurants open to take-out are providing meals for local residents, essential workers, and health care staff.

Show your love and respect for our small communities, for our treasured elders and senior citizens, for our limited health care resources, and for our frontline workers who are sacrificing time from their own families this Easter weekend.

Let our public works employees, social services, health care workers and first responders focus on delivering services and protecting the region’s most vulnerable residents.

We look forward to welcoming you later when it is safe for you, and safe for us - but that’s not this weekend.
 


Contact:

Chief Joshua Charleson
Hesquiaht First Nation

Chief Greg Louie
Ahousaht First Nation

Elmer Frank, EOC Chairman
Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations

Mayor Josie Osborne
District of Tofino

Mayor Mayco Noël
District of Ucluelet

President Chuck McCarthy
Yuu?u?i??at? Government

Chief Anne Mack
Toquaht Nation

Kel Roberts
Area “C” Director, ACRD

 

 


MEDIA RELEASE

A Message to the Valued Visitors to Tofino
Making Informed Decisions about Covid-19


TOFINO, B.C. - Tofino is proud to host thousands of visitors annually, each of whom draw inspiration and rejuvenation from this incredible place we call home, here in Nuu-chah-nulth territory. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought a lot of uncertainty to those hoping and planning to visit the area.

Today, the District of Tofino, Tourism Tofino, and the Tofino-Long Beach Chamber of Commerce are together taking the step of asking all visitors to postpone trips to Tofino for the next several weeks, and for visitors currently in town to begin to make plans to return to home. Heeding the advice of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, travel is being reduced to essential travel only, and businesses and local services are scaling down operation to serve essential services, so we can all concentrate on our personal health and safety and that of our community members.

Like many other small communities, Tofino has extremely limited health care resources to serve our region. As the window narrows to help “flatten the curve” we need everyone’s help – including the thousands of visitors who love and cherish this area.

“For now, please enjoy Tofino vicariously through images and your memories of past visits, and make plans to visit us again when our community is ready to host you and give you an incredible experience,” said Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne. “This recommendation is temporary only – just as the Covid-19 pandemic is – and we look forward to welcoming everyone back again soon.”

The District of Tofino, tourism and business organizations are closely monitoring the Covid-19 situation, and will reassess this recommendation and communicate to visitors on a regular basis.

"This has been a difficult decision,” said Laura McDonald, President of the Tofino Chamber of Commerce, “We take pride in welcoming visitors to our community, and we are looking forward to welcoming everyone back to Tofino in the near future. I am a local health care provider, and we have to concentrate on meeting the health needs of our communities at this time."

All the organizations listed above thank visitors all for their understanding, and for keeping their health and safety, and that of West Coast families and health care providers front of mind.

Guests currently in the region are encouraged to speak to local Visitor Information Services and their accommodation providers with any questions. Guests with upcoming stays are strongly encouraged to listen to all directives from senior levels of government and to contact their accommodation and tour providers to rebook plans.

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See PDF of Media Release


Media Contacts:

District of Tofino

Tourism Tofino

Tofino-Long Beach Chamber of Commerce

Josie Osborne,
Mayor of Tofino
250-725-3229

Shane Richards,
Chair, Tourism Tofino 
250-726-6629

Laura McDonald
President, TLBCC
250-725-3153