Victoria woman says Tofino Airbnb host encouraged travel despite provincial restrictions – Vancouver Island Free Daily
With non-essential travel banned throughout British Columbia, tourists are urged to stay off the West Coast, but at least one Airbnb host is offering conflicting messages.
A woman from Victoria told the Western News Sunday that she had recently tried to cancel an Airbnb reservation in Tofino and was both surprised and disappointed when the host encouraged her to visit the community and refused to offer a refund.
“They urged me to go out even though the prime minister [John] Horgan had made it very, very clear that now was not the time to go to Tofino, ”said the woman, who identified herself as Elizabeth and declined to give her last name for reasons of confidentiality. “Companies like Airbnb are still pushing tourism and travel at a time when it’s really not recommended, especially for these isolated communities with so few resources.
She said she planned to travel to Tofino on November 19 and booked the Airbnb on October 14.
When she saw Prime Minister John Horgan and Dr Bonnie Henry speak out against non-essential travel in the days leading up to her vacation, she reached out to her Airbnb host to cancel.
“Dr. Bonnie Henry has made it clear not to go to Tofino due to the fact that we risk increased transmission and we risk epidemics in these small communities,” she said. sure i like to play in the water and surf, but now is not the time to go out and i enjoy it. ”
She said the host encouraged her to travel anyway and assured her the suite was contained.
“She said the only way for me to get a refund is to be able to book the suite for this weekend… I probably won’t get my money back and I get it, it’s a business, but that’s for me. bothered a lot she was always booking the suite despite the province making these announcements and it’s just a very depressing thing for me because I felt like I was somehow being punished for trying to make the good thing, “she said.” I told her I was very disappointed that someone living in the community is attracting tourism at this time. “
She said she contacted Airbnb and was told refunds are the responsibility of the host.
“I hope everyone thinks and thinks a lot more about traveling in these uncertain times,” she said. “At the end of the day, I think a little bit of peer pressure and public awareness is almost the way we need to go because unfortunately some people don’t take government and public health statements very seriously. . “
Acting Tofino Mayor Britt Chalmers said the district is urging all accommodation providers to adhere to the province’s travel restrictions.
“We realize that cancellations are difficult for accommodation providers, especially for vacation rental owners who lost income earlier this year when travel to the West Coast was curtailed at the start of the pandemic. Even though major reservation systems like Airbnb may withhold the fee as a fraction of the reservation amount, we believe it’s the right thing to do to cancel all reservations until December 8, ”Chalmers said.
“A hotel has a decision for multiple rooms, we now have multiple rooms with many different people making the decisions. I firmly believe that the vast majority are doing the right thing, but even if you have illegal vacation rentals there will be people who will not… It is the choice of the individual and the district is trying very hard to get the message out to everyone in the community to encourage rescheduling, cancellations and to stay in the community. It’s just a strong encouragement across the community on all fronts because we all have to do our part.
She said that although travel is discouraged, locals are encouraged to support their own city’s economy.
“The recommendations are to stay local, so let’s support the local,” she said.