British Columbia is currently in Phase 2 of BC’s Restart Plan. As the province moves toward Phase 3, and restrictions further begin to ease, traveling in BC may be a little different this year. We’ll need to take more time with planning, and be more conscious of our impact on communities—especially the smaller ones when we visit. As a starting point, Destination BC has compiled 10 tips to help you plan and travel responsibly in BC this summer, when the time is right.
- Do your research – Take extra time to research and plan your trip in advance, and make sure you have a Plan B if your activity is at capacity. Many businesses and services in BC have adopted new protocols, and changes to their schedules or policies to ensure your safety. You’ll want to become familiar with them ahead of time. For example, you may have to book in advance for attractions or experiences where you didn’t before, and transportation schedules, like BC Ferries, may be operating at reduced capacity. Some businesses or outdoor spaces may remain closed. See the HelloBC.com accommodations listings, transportation listings, and experience provider listings to start your research, and contact the local Visitor Center for more information.
- Be respectful – Responsible tourism means that the experience creates a positive impact for all involved – not just the traveler. Keep in mind that you’re a guest of your fellow BC residents when traveling, and respect the guidelines and protocols they’ve put in place in their community during this time.
- Travel in smaller groups – If you normally travel with extended family or with several friends, consider traveling in a smaller group this summer. Traveling with fewer people makes it easier for you to practice physical distancing in public, and may have less of an impact on the destination.
- More time, fewer locations – Consider a slower travel pace this summer to help curb the spread. Instead of checking in and out of multiple destinations during one trip, choose one destination and one accommodation for your entire trip, and use that as a ‘home-base’ for exploring all the destinations nearby.
- Pack essentials – If you’re heading to a more rural area of the province, stock up with the essentials before you leave home (i.e. groceries). This helps lessen your impact on BC communities who may be experiencing supply issues and reduces your touchpoints within communities who may have limited health care facilities. Even better: create a Clean Trip Kit, including hand sanitizer, soap, gloves, masks, and toilet paper. While some businesses and destinations may supply these for visitors, it’s not a guarantee.
- Stay apart, stay safe – Practise physical distancing and frequent handwashing hygiene to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Follow the recommendations from the BC Centre for Disease Control to learn about preventative activities, and talk to the tourism businesses you are visiting about the steps they are taking to keep you and their staff safe. WorkSafeBC now requires all businesses to post their new COVID-related health and safety protocols at their workplace for staff and visitors to see.
- Leave No Trace – When exploring BC’s outdoors, always leave it in a better state than when you arrived. Respect local wildlife. Minimize campfire impacts and check BC Wildfire Service for fire bans and fire safety tips. Pack out what you pack in, and dispose of waste properly. These are just some of the key principles of Leave No Trace, a set of seven guidelines for enjoying the outdoors responsibly while minimizing your impact on the landscape. Visit Leave No Trace and BC Wildfire to learn more.
- Be AdventureSmart – No matter what outdoor activity you are planning, you must be prepared. Remember to follow the three Ts—trip planning, training, and taking the essentials. AdventureSmart is a great resource to get informed before heading outdoors.
- Be calm, be patient, be kind – Remember, activities may take longer than usual, or places may be at capacity when you arrive. Be calm, patient, and kind, and remember, we’re all in this together.
- Support BC and have fun! – BC’s tourism businesses are eager to welcome you back this summer and your support is more crucial than ever. Remember, with the border closed, our businesses are relying on British Columbians. For now, you have the province all to yourself! Make the most of it. See What’s Open in BC by Community to learn where you can support local businesses.
Image: Alexandra Bridge over the Fraser River. Destination BC/Andrew Strain