We’re just a couple of weeks away from B.C.’s travel ban being lifted as part of Step 2 of the province’s restart plan.

Mid-June can’t come soon enough for many tourism operators impacted by the circuit-breaker measure that banned non-essential travel between regional health zones.

Anthony Everett is CEO of Tourism Vancouver Island and chair of the BC Regional Tourism Secretariat (BCRST), an organization that represents five regional destination management organizations.

He says they’re pleased to see a Restart Plan that will initially allow travel within our regions and by mid-June, recreational travel across the province.

Everett says the past 15 months have been “incredibly difficult for many facets of our tourism sector,” whether they be in accommodation, attractions, campgrounds or arts and culture, adding that this plan “provides a roadmap that will allow our sector partners to move forward in a thoughtful, predictable manner.”

Everett says that while the restart plan signals a light at the end of the tunnel, it won’t be without its challenges. 

“We will continue to work with the government to address issues that businesses are already encountering, including hiring, training, and the assorted costs associated with a restart of this magnitude,” he said in a statement. 

“We will also continue to work with and support tourism businesses to observe new health guidelines and assist them through the four stages of the Plan in any way possible.”

“The time will soon come when British Columbians can all travel safely, and we encourage people in this province to do some research and examine what every corner of BC has to offer in the form of a tourism experience –  so we can collectively work towards a post-COVID tourism economy that is as strong as possible,” Everett continued.

The BC Regional Tourism Secretariat (BCRTS) is a collaboration between five regional destination management organizations (Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism, Kootenay Rockies Tourism Association, Northern British Columbia Tourism Association, Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association, and Tourism Vancouver Island).

Together, they represent more than 8,000 tourism businesses and organizations.