New Brunswick's tourism sector optimistic ahead of reopening plan
CARTERS POINT, N.B. -- With New Brunswick recently laying out its roadmap for reopening, tourism operators in the province are breathing a collective sigh of relief as the hard-hit industry looks to come out from under the cloud of COVID-19.
The Harding’s Point campground on the Kingston Peninsula is now open for the season – but owner Howard Heans says overnight traffic has been slow-going so far.
However, he’s expecting a boost once travel restrictions are lifted.
“We have had a lot of people from other provinces make reservations already for later in the summer,” said Heans. “Because they presume the bubble will be open at that point.”
On Thursday, the province unveiled its three-phase reopening plan, the first of which is set to begin on June 7 and would allow travellers from Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador to visit New Brunswick without needed to self-isolate or be tested.
The second phase would see the Atlantic bubble fully open by Canada Day, and visitors from other parts of the country who have had at least one dose of vaccine would be allowed into the province without needing to isolate.
A welcome development for those who rely on tourists from other regions.
“We miss the American traffic,” said Heans. “A lot of Quebecers stop here going to Shediac or Nova Scotia or wherever, they come down that corridor and stop here, or stop on their way home. Quebec traffic is missed, and Ontario traffic.”
The final benchmark for the province’s reopening plan is set for New Brunswick Day, August 2.
“Having dates is fantastic,” said executive director of the Tourism Industry Association of New Brunswick Carol Alderdice. "But, what’s even more fantastic is the possibility of being able to greet guests from outside of New Brunswick and even outside of the Atlantic bubble by July first and with the hopes of going green by August second.”
However, Alderdice says that businesses in this industry remain in survival mode and could take years to bounce back.
“So we’re still going to desperately need the federal subsidy, wage subsidy and rent relief to continue on until the end of the year at its present level,” said Alderdice. “Which is something we’re advocating for with the other provincial and territorial associations.”
The re-opening plan hinges in large part on vaccinations – for the first phase, 75 per cent of the population has to have received their first dose.
As of today, that number is approximately 62 per cent, with more than 470,000 doses administered in total.
Vaccinations are now open to anyone over the age of 12 and Public Health is encouraging anyone to hasn’t already received a shot, to book an appointment – to help reach the targets that have been set out.
The province says clinics operated by the regional health authorities are now showing availability on June 1 in Woodstock, St. Stephen, Sussex, Oromocto, and Moncton, and on June 2 in Edmundston, Moncton, Tracadie and Campbellton.