Northern Rocky Mountains | Andrew Strain

7 Ways to Support British Columbia’s Travel Industry

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British Columbians are passionate about adventure—whether climbing the highest Kootenay Rockies peaks with a guide, sipping wine in an Okanagan vineyard, or casting a line in a fishing boat off the shores of Vancouver Island. Today, however, we’re living a reality that prevents us from exploring BC’s big, beautiful backyard, so we can slow the spread of COVID-19.

Our current focus is on staying home, and this reality means that small businesses—the lifeblood of many tourism experiences—are shouldering the weight of the virus’s impact. More than 90 per cent of the province’s 19,000 businesses have fewer than 50 employees, and while some operations are showing their support to those on the front lines, many are not in a position to do so, as they’ve had to pause operations indefinitely.

So, how do we help our local industries survive? After all, these are more than businesses—these people connect us to the world around us, to our roots and to other cultures; they offer rich experiences that inspire us, fire up our imaginations, and offer a feeling of belonging. They are integral to the communities we live in and lean on today, as well as to the communities that will help us explore later, when the time is right.

Here are seven ways to support British Columbia’s travel industry—now.

Tesla Lake Lodge cabin | Taylor Burk

Stay at Home

Create your own sourdough starter. Strike a Warrior Pose on your balcony. Become one with your couch.

No matter your choice, our collective purpose is clear: The more we stay inside today, the closer we’ll get to exploring all that BC has to offer again.

So dream now, and explore BC later. Find your groove and don’t forget: Show your love for our front-line medical professionals by banging your pots nightly at 7 p.m.


Dream of Later

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Dream Now, Explore BC Later

Plan Your Next BC Vacation

While spring travel is not on the horizon, it doesn’t mean you can’t plan for adventures later, when travel restrictions have lifted. BC operators and small businesses depend on future bookings to stay afloat, meaning your booking is helping to shore up the industry as a whole.

So, take this time to dream up your next big BC adventure or reschedule a trip that’s already in the works; share what inspires you to travel in the months ahead (#exploreBClater); and write a review online about your favourite local experience to help others plan for their trips. And, importantly, reach out to local operators to make future plans to get your paddles back in the water.


The Museum of Anthropology | @djgillam via Instagram

Have a Virtual Experience

There’s more to entertainment than Netflix, and several BC businesses are sharing virtual experiences to enjoy from the comforts of home.

The BC Museums Association (BCMA) and Arts BC have teamed up to offer, a digital portal that showcases live streaming events, programs, and online resources. With just a click, you can visit museums, hear “live” music, watch dance performances, explore science centres, and more.

The Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver is sharing a virtual tour of its Grand Hall alongside an online glimpse into the museum’s collections, archives, and stories. Meanwhile, the Vancouver Art Gallery is encouraging dialogue and connection Tuesdays and Fridays by streaming live, interactive conversations with local and international guests during their Art Connects series.

Whistler’s Audain Art Museum is showcasing Director’s Flashlight Security Tours on all channels, and the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre has launched live craft demonstrations on Fridays (which are then posted here) for those interested in culture and craftsmanship.

Victoria’s Royal BC Museum has your little ones in mind, offering a resource centre that provides a Learning Portal, galleries, and a weekly online “playdate” webinar, while Courtenay’s local art gallery, up the road, is showcasing virtual tours of their latest exhibits.

Finally, Barkerville Historic Town & Park, in the Cariboo, has a rich, storied Gold Rush history—one that can be explored through an interactive portal that highlights aspects of everyday life alongside colourful characters like Billy Barker and Florence Wilson.

Liard River Hot Springs | Andrew Strain

Walk in the Woods, View Bears, and More

For something off the beaten path, or simply a moment of respite, take a scroll below.

Start out of doors with a walk in the woods to view Bella Coola’s giants of the forest, or watch grizzlies munch on sagebrush in the nearby Great Bear Rainforest. For a different perspective, soar high above the clouds with a 360-degree view of the South Chilcotin Mountains and Bridge Glacier below during a floatplane ride to Crystal Lake.

You can take a virtual field trip of the garden and heritage site at The Grist Mill & Gardens in Keremeos, courtesy of manager Chris Mathieson, who lives on site with his family. Like a challenge? Try an online jigsaw puzzle to create one of many stunning backdrops from Kamloops. There are six to choose from—meaning you have plenty of inspiration for future travel as you drag and drop the pieces into place.

Check out the Kootenay Rockies 360° climb of the Via Ferrata route, led by Canadian Mountain Holidays, for a rush of adrenaline. Or take in a “street view” of the Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park via a Google virtual hike; keep exploring in BC’s Kootenay Rockies with a trek in Mt. Assiniboine Provincial Park.

“Head” north for a remote horseback and canoe journey from the Mayfield Basecamp into the wilds of the Muskwa-Kechika Management Area. For an equally far-flung experience, take a virtual tour of Naikoon Provincial Park in Haida Gwaii and find clues in various locations to learn the legends, and the language, of the local Haida Nation.

A boat ride to Kinuseo Falls near Tumbler Ridge takes on a whole new perspective through a Google lens. Still have a virtual-reality headset? Get cozy, and drink in the views with this immersive video from Northern BC’s Nechako Lodge and Aviation.

There’s more, thanks to Spinal Cord Injury BC’s series of virtual tours of the province’s parks, outdoor spaces, and recreational areas, including the Liard River Hot Springs in Northern BC and the Cottonwood House Historic Site near Barkerville.

Victoria Butterfly Gardens | Gardens BC/Daniel Mosquin

In BC’s biggest urban centre, Forbidden Vancouver Walking Tours is bringing the city’s shocking-but-true stories to you, the UBC Botanical Garden takes you up to the tree tops, and the Vancouver Aquarium is sharing live video cams of their residents for animal lovers everywhere to enjoy. (Tip: Log on to their Online Ocean activity centre for crafts and more or purchase a sustainable, plastic-free stuffed otter—and other treasures—from the Gift Shop.)

In addition, the Victoria Butterfly Garden displays a moment of tranquillity and Parksville Qualicum Beach’s Facebook page houses the sounds of Parksville Beach.

Further west, the Wild Pacific Trail Society has launched interactive online Learn Where You Live “walks” that showcase the Vancouver Island trail’s natural flora and fauna, while Clayoquot Wilderness Resort is showcasing the calming effects of nature with forest-bathing videos.

Local menus in the north | Mike Seehagel

Eat Local

We all have to stay fed, so why not do the best we can to eat local.

Reach out to your favourite restaurants, delis, bakeries, et al., for take-out, curb-side drop-off, or delivery options. For a one-stop-shop, check out Breaking Bread, an online resource that highlights restaurants in select BC communities (and across Canada) that offer take-out, delivery, frozen items, and more.

Pull out the pots and pans for a virtual cooking class with the team at Terra Restaurant in Kamloops. Or elevate your virtual dining with Thirsty Thursdays, a Tapped Events experience that pairs culinary teams with brew crews, winemakers, and more. Upcoming events will provide Kamloops, Shuswap, and Salmon Arm participants with a delicious opportunity to meet new friends with “dinner in a box” (preparation instructions included), select beverages, and a virtual meeting space where guests can chat with the culinary team.

In the southern Okanagan Valley, Hester Creek Winery’s Terrafina Restaurant offers a fresh sheet Wednesdays and Saturdays, created by Chef Adair. Couple this à la carte menu with reds or whites from the wine shop (ask what pairs best), and enjoy free home delivery, from Osoyoos to Okanagan Falls.

In Kimberley, local chef Robert Davidson leads The Socially Distant Cooking Class on Facebook, a format that looks to develop skills, trade recipes and tricks, and support its members during what Davidson describes as an “unreal time.”

In the Lower Mainland, Legends Haul Supply Company services both Greater Vancouver and Squamish, featuring local food and drink, including produce that is consciously grown and menus from legendary restaurants like Chambar, Savio Volpe, and Kissa Tanto.

Vancouverites can choose from five Nuba Meal Kits featuring prepared stew, lentil soup, falafel, hummus, and more. Tip: If you want to stock your freezer, opt for the largest offering (Meal Kit 5), which includes three full vegan meals and two full meat offerings. Missing the tastes of Granville Island? Vancouver Foodie Tours is offering customized food delivery, which includes hand-picked sweet and savoury items, fun food facts, and door-to-door delivery.

For kitchen inspiration (or maybe just some ideas of what to order from select Glowbal Restaurant Group restaurants), watch the Glowbal Chef Series on Instagram. If you need supplies, check out the JOEY Market for tips on how to stay stocked, or peruse the Earls site, where they cover everything from Happy Hour favourites and grocery packs to recipes and libations.

Farm fresh hops at Persephone Brewing Company in Gibsons | Andrew Strain

Drink Local

Feeling parched? BC brewers, winemakers, and distillers have you covered.

In Vancouver, BeerVan is a collective of small, family-owned craft breweries that delivers in Vancouver, Burnaby, New West, and North Vancouver. Choose from favourites that include Faculty Brewing Co., Oddity Kombucha, and Temporal Artisan Ales. The delivery charge is waived for orders more than $40 (an order before 3 p.m. will arrive the same day); plus, selections are dropped off safely by brewery employees who would otherwise be out of work.

For beer beyond the Lower Mainland, check out these BC Ale Trail YouTube videos. You’ll be tempted to order a case (or two), and you’re sure to find future road trip inspiration for when it’s time to explore once again. Tip: Tune in for BC Ale Trail’s virtual Hoppy Hour every Thursday on Instagram Live.

The Growler, BC’s craft beer guide, highlights where enthusiasts can go online for trivia nights, Beer with the Brewmaster events, #beerchats on Twitter, and more.

Select BC distillers are taking on double duty, creating distinctive pours and even producing and distributing hand sanitizer. To toast these good deeds, consider ordering a bottle from a few local spots, including One Foot Crow Craft Distillery in Gibsons, After Dark Distillery in the Shuswap, and Bohemian Spirits in Kimberley.

Show your love for BC’s stellar reds and whites (bubbly too) and purchase online from wineries across the province (many are offering free delivery). If you’re missing the tasting-room connection, Okanagan Crush Pad offers a virtual tasting experience. Step 1: Purchase two full-size bottles and one mini. Step 2: Convince three (or more) of your friends to do the same. Step 3: Set up at your computer, and an Okanagan Crush Pad wine expert will connect online to walk you through your picks.

For more of the swirl and sip, view virtual events offered by BC wineries, including insight about winemaking from the professionals, with some fun and quirky twists (think: Pizza and Pinot a la Harper’s Trail and the Best Paella in the Okanagan with the kitchen at Da Silva Vineyards).

If you want an even greater selection of libations, look to Time to Buy British Columbia for a robust list of breweries, cideries, coolers, distilleries, wineries, and more. You’ll be supporting businesses across BC, and maybe even in your own backyard.

Piece by Indigenous artist Gus Cook | Coastal Peoples Gallery

Support Local Artisans

Beyond imbibing, shoppers can support local craftspeople, including Indigenous artists.

You can, for example, select dramatic bentwood boxes and intricate basket weave bowls from Vancouver’s Coastal Peoples Gallery, stock your closet with one-of-a-kind designs from Ay Lelum, hand-pick porcelain from Vancouver Island’s U’mista Cultural Centre, or opt for the argillite carvings and jewelry from the Crystal Cabin Gallery in Haida Gwaii.

To support even more small BC businesses, peruse the Small Business Marketplace. Here, you can find items that include clothing, food and drink, cleaning supplies, and even consulting services.

Stay Informed

Now is the time to stay home and follow the advice of health authorities. For the latest developments and what you need to know, visit here.

We’re in this together. And together, we’ll Explore BC… Later.

Header image: Muncho Lake Provincial Park | Andrew Strain