New Brunswick village focuses on the staycation dollar amid pandemic travel bans
ALMA, N.B. -- As COVID-19 restrictions ease, the scenic village of Alma, New Brunswick, is open for business. However, with travel bans still in effect, the tourist town, which typically benefits from out-of-province visitors, is competing for the staycation dollar.
On Saturday, the combination of a cool, coastal breeze and Father’s Day weekend, had the village of Alma looking as busy and vibrant as it usually does in the summer. However, the day wasn’t representative of how business has been since COVID-19 restrictions were implemented.
Traditionally, the majority of visitors who come to the seaside community are from out-of-province – as of late June, that isn’t happening.
“We often take reservations starting in January, and many of those reservations are from Quebec and Ontario, and the United States,” says motel owner, Linda Lindsay. “So, all of those reservations have been cancelled.”
Throughout the Maritimes, there was hope an Atlantic Bubble would be announced on Friday – which would allow for open provincial borders between the Atlantic provinces – but that didn’t happen. While business owners like Lindsay say they’re disappointed, they respect the reasoning behind borders remaining closed.
“We also want to be cautious – all of the business owners are very careful,” says Lindsay.
With the lack of out-of-province visitors for summer 2020, Alma is turning its focus to promoting what it has to offer – in hopes of encouraging New Brunswickers to add a village visit to their itinerary.
“Alma is here; we have been open for a number of weeks or whenever the provincial guidelines have allowed various food and beverage services to open up a little bit,” says Village of Alma councillor, Susan MacCallum. “Now that the park has opened, a number of trails and the beach is open, you can get your fresh air and not worry about bumping into somebody.”
In addition to shops and restaurants, village officials say physical distancing in the community shouldn’t be a problem with its relatively small population of 200. Meanwhile, the town’s fortunes could turn around soon as Fundy National Park is scheduled to reopen for select overnight camping options on Monday.