WHISTLER (CityNews) — Some hotels in Whistler are still advertising deals and discounts, even while cases spike in the resort municipality and all British Columbians have been told to stay home.
“Travelling to whistler? Stay for 3 nights, only pay for 2,” reads one sponsored ad on Facebook promoting a limited-time deal that’s available through April 31. Another hotel is offering 30 per cent discounts on extended stays. Another is offering seven days for $797 for bookings before April 24.
“TRAVELLING TO WHISTLER?… STAY FOR 3 NIGHTS, ONLY PAY FOR 2!”
Advertisements like this have been popping up on Instagram feeds over the weekend, despite increasing concern that the mountain has become one of B.C.’s latest COVID-19 hotspots. @CityNewsVAN @NEWS1130 pic.twitter.com/Babye4T7Yk
— Ashley Grace Burr (@AshleyBurr_) February 1, 2021
The official tourism site for Whistler does advise against any non-essential travel, and also links to some last-minute travel deals.
To help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, BC’s public health officials have strongly recommended that all social and recreational travel be avoided in British Columbia until February 5, 2021. This means all non-essential travel into, out of and within British Columbia should be postponed until the travel advisory is lifted,” the website says.
“We have been discouraging particularly out of province and absolutely out of country travel. We have been asking people to ski in their own community, and to ski and support the businesses in your local communities,” Dr. Bonnie Henry said Monday.
Last week, Vancouver Coastal Health reported nearly 300 cases of COVID-19 had been recorded in Whistler between Jan. 1 and 26.
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While the advertising may be meant to tempt locals into a staycation, at least one resident who works in a hotel and recently contracted the virus says he’s been seeing travellers from Ontario and Quebec.
Henry said any ads targeting out of province travellers “not something I would support at this point.”
Richmond parent Karina Reid says in the last two weeks she’s had multiple friends take the drive from Metro Vancouver to Whistler, with plans to stay and ski.
“When I’m questioning why they are going they say, ‘Well it’s in the same health care region, Vancouver Coastal Health. I’m like, ‘Yeah, but you are leaving a big city, going to a small village where you could be bringing cases they don’t have the resources to handle,” she says.
Reid thinks the deals and discounts on hotel stays are adding to confusion about what the restrictions mean for would-be ski vacationers.
“They are feeding to us as consumers. We are reading this information and we are thinking, ‘Okay, I guess it’s okay for us to travel? But then we get mixed messaging from the government. We have to be all on the same page.”