British Columbia

Be prepared for a different kind of camping experience this summer, say resort communities

Small communities are striking a balance between protecting themselves and putting on a warm welcome for tourists.

Tourists and campers should come prepared with groceries, sanitation supplies

Some leaders are asking people bring in all their groceries and supplies so as to not overwhelm their town's grocery stores. (Tyler Hulett/Shutterstock)

If Monday morning was any indication — when 50,000 people crashed the B.C. Parks camping reservation website — then British Columbians are more than eager to get out into their own backyards and play tourist. 

But some of those resort towns and communities say the experience won't be the same as years past. 

Ange Qualizza, the mayor of Fernie, a small town nestled in the Rockies, says small tourist operators, hotels and cafes are busy preparing to meet physical distancing requirements.

"Until Dr. [Bonnie] Henry says otherwise, your tourism experience is going to look a little different," Qualizza said. "Just appreciate the challenges these local restaurants have. It's probably not going to feel the same as it did the last time you were in Fernie. But we're going to be working really hard so you feel safe when you arrive."

Joss Penny, the executive director of the British Columbia Lodging and Campgrounds Association, says there will be changes at campgrounds, too. 

"Playgrounds will be closed. There'll be some areas that common use that you won't normally go to — interpretive centres might be closed and you would find that there won't be any group activities," Penny said. 

Campers will be encouraged to stick to their own group of people and practice physical distancing. They'll also be asked to be prepared with supplies. 

"[We're encouraging] people who camp come with their own personal equipment they have their own wipes they have their own sanitizer and their own hand washing equipment and masks as appropriate," he added.

Mayco Noel, the mayor of Ucluelet, said he hopes people come prepared before visiting his remote Vancouver Island community.

"Our little grocery store — we have one. We let 25 people in there at a time. Take that into account that you're coming to someone's backyard, and you come well prepared," Noel said.

Nevertheless, he said he was willing to welcome in tourists whenever the provincial health officer deems appropriate.

"We're going to follow all their social distancing and rules, and we will welcome them.​​​​​"

If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at impact@cbc.ca.

With files from On The Coast, Daybreak South

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