Tofino mayor Josie Osborne hopes residents and visitors will be kind to one another as the community navigates through the reopening of the tourist economy in June. (District of Tofino photo)

Tofino mayor urges “kindness” as tourism reopens

“Health and safety matters to everyone.”

Tofino’s accommodation providers are expected to reopen their doors to tourists next month as the province moves into Phase 3 of its BC Restart Plan and begins allowing non-essential travel.

The town’s residents, however, are divided on how fast the halted wheels of Tofino’s tourism economy should start churning again and mayor Josie Osborne noted a ThoughtExchange process conducted earlier this month revealed diverging opinions.

“Many are concerned that going too fast will result in too great a risk of an outbreak on the West Coast and an unacceptable strain on the healthcare system, but many are concerned that if local economies do not restart soon enough, there will be serious and long-lasting impacts from the loss of family incomes,” Osborne told the Westerly News. “Both perspectives are valid and, as a community, we need to carefully chart a path forward that is somewhere in the middle. Regardless of people’s thoughts about the pace of restarting, however, we saw that there is strong agreement that health and safety remain the priority, that the advice and guidance of public health officials be followed, and that the region should follow BC’S phased Restart Plan.”

She said “health and safety matters to everyone” and that business owners, staff and the tourists themselves will be expected to follow stringent COVID-19 protocols and guidelines.

She added those protocols must be clearly communicated and commended local businesses for their significant efforts so far.

“People can clearly see this from their shopping experiences from the Co-op to smaller local stores and services, and the support and collaboration businesses are providing each other through the [Tofino Long Beach] Chamber of Commerce’s sector roundtables is really encouraging,” she said, adding that she hopes residents will be kind to one another, as well as the town’s guests, as the process unfolds.

“As we take baby steps back into our tourism economy, it’s important for everyone—residents and visitors alike—to be kind and gentle with each other, and recognize that not everyone is comfortable, each for their own valid reasons,” she wrote. “This summer will be unlike any we’ve experienced, and we all need to be patient, to go at our own pace, and to remember all the things that are under control, such as physical distancing, wearing non-medical masks, or shopping or beach walking during the quieter times of day. This will help those of us feeling anxious about seeing new faces.”



andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca

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

READ MORE: Tofino launches two COVID-19 task forces

READ MORE: Tofino businesses grapple with what’s to come

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