Tofino and Ucluelet are teaming up to help convince their shared tourists that the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t disappear when they go on vacation.
The two towns have launched a ‘Show Your Love’ campaign, promoting safe travel and asking visitors to show respect for their surroundings and their hosts by following the protocols put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“The ‘Show Your Love’ campaign is a collaborative effort to send a message that the COVID-19 pandemic knows no boundaries and doesn’t go on vacation, even in Canada’s premier beach destinations,” read a joint statement signed by both Tofino mayor Josie Osborne and Ucluelet mayor Mayco Noel last week. “At a time when tourism to the West Coast would normally start to slow down, the streets and beaches of Tofino and Ucluelet remain busy. As guests continue to travel to the West Coast looking for wide open spaces on our beaches and trails, our communities are reminding visitors to stay vigilant in observing public health orders and respecting the region’s residents and environment.”
The campaign ran through the social media gamut within days of its launch last week, with photos of District of Tofino staff members responsibly masked up posted online and the messaging will be prevalent offline as well, with signage being installed at the Tofino-Ucluelet junction and both towns’ visitor centres.
❤️“Show Your Love for the West Coast” – visitors asked to show care and respect for host communities.
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“It means a great deal to us when people show their respect for our residents and environment, and we want to encourage that kind of message however we can,” Noel said in the statement.
While Noel has been vocal about the disappointing attitudes some visitors are arriving with, in terms of failing to clean up after themselves and camping in illegal areas, he told the Westerly that the ‘Show Your Love’ campaign is predominantly focused on promoting the coronavirus protocols.
“We’re just trying to remind tourists, as well as locals, to mask up in certain venues,” he said, noting that masks are now mandatory at many West Coast businesses. “It’s about realizing the environment you’re coming into and it’s a reminder to bring your mask and to please use it.”
Noel said the new signage would be paid for through Resort Municipality Initiative funding. One sign was already in place over the weekend, posted on top of Ucluelet’s welcome sign at the junction with imaging promoting mask-use and social distancing.
“It’s just what has to be done,” Noel said. “We’ve been leading the way in a lot of messaging and a lot of activities on the West Coast and this is another example of that.”
Along with masking up when necessary, visitors are also urged to continue washing their hands regularly, remain diligent with hand sanitizer and to make sure they’re physically distancing from those outside their bubble.
“There are so many actions visitors can take to show their love for the West Coast. Wearing a mask where required demonstrates respect for everyone’s health,” said Tofino mayor Josie Osborne. “Minimizing waste and responsibly disposing of garbage expresses appreciation of the natural environment and of frontline workers. Waiting patiently and politely in line-ups shows gratitude for hard-working tourism workers. We’re all in this together.”
Tourists are also being reminded that they need to plan ahead before arriving as reservations are required for all accommodation types, including camping, which is not permitted outside of authorized areas.
“Since the beginning of Phase 3 of the Province’s Restart Plan, businesses in the region re-opened their doors with strict sanitation, hygiene and physical distancing protocols in place so that visitors, staff, residents and First Nations communities can be confident that safety remains the top priority,” the statement reads.
“Booking with local accommodation providers early and accessing local tourism authority websites is one more way that visitors can ensure they have a place to stay and the information they need before arriving on the coast.”