Tofino and Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation release joint statement welcoming ‘respectful’ tourists

“We have adapted to the new landscape and are very eager to welcome you back.”

The provincial government has moved into Phase 3 of its COVID-19 restart plan, opening the door for tourists to start making their way to the West Coast.

The District of Tofino and the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation released a joint-statement last week, clarifying that the area is open to “smart, safe and respectful travel” and is “excited to host visitors seeking a special place to slow down and reconnect.”

“This has been a difficult time for our tourism-oriented businesses, and we would like to thank the thousands of Tofino fans who have expressed their heartwarming support for our community.” said Tourism Tofino Chair Shane Richards through the June 24 joint-statement. “We have adapted to the new landscape and are very eager to welcome you back.”

Visitors are advised that not all areas of the West Coast are free to explore, as local First Nations communities remain closed to non-residents due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation’s Long Beach communities of Ty-Histanis and Esowista as well as the Meares Island community of Opitsaht remain closed and the Nation’s Emergency Operations Centre Chairperson Elmer Frank is urging visitors to pay attention and respect those closures.

“We know that Long Beach is a special and iconic place for many, and our Junior Guardians will be working with the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve to educate visitors about the importance of respectfully visiting the beach without venturing into our communities,” Frank said through the statement. “Our citizens have worked really hard to protect our most vulnerable members, and we’re hopeful that visitors will do their part to keep it that way.’

Visitors are also reminded that local businesses have new measures in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“As visitors arrive on the West Coast, businesses and local leaders are reminding everyone that this year’s trip to Tla-o-qui-aht territory and Tofino won’t be like any other,” the statement reads. “Guests are invited to slow down, practice patience and live on ‘Tofino time’ by enjoying culinary favorites in new outdoor dining areas in the heart of downtown, spending time in local shops, and enjoying the natural landscape—all while remembering to maintain physical distance, wear a mask where distancing isn’t possible, and take respectful precautions to protect the Coast’s small communities,”

Travelers are also urged to stay home if they are feeling sick and to research which areas are open to visitors prior to arriving in the region. Travel information is posted at tourismtofino.com and available through the Tofino Visitor Centre at 1-888-720-3414.

“Our community is really proud of the ways we’ve taken steps to slow the spread of COVID-19 and move forward together as a region,” said Tofino mayor Josie Osborne. “We’re also incredibly grateful for the care and concern shown by visitors who postponed their trips to Tofino, and our residents and small businesses are looking forward to welcome you back.”



andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca

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READ MORE: Ty-Histanis resident frustrated by Pacific Rim National Park Reserve reopening

READ MORE: Pacific Rim National Park Reserve welcomes visitors back

READ MORE: Resorts in Tofino and Ucluelet prepare to reopen in June

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