Big White Ski Resort loses $7.3 million in accommodation, lift ticket reservations | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Big White Ski Resort loses $7.3 million in accommodation, lift ticket reservations

A member of Big White Ski Resort's Lift Ambassador program is pictured in this undated photo.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Big White Ski Resort
January 21, 2021 - 2:14 PM

Since the the provincial health officer's travel advisories were issued in late November, Big White Ski Resort has cancelled $7.3 million worth of lift ticket and accommodation bookings.

"As challenging as it has been, we know that we are doing the right thing to bend the curve. And this has been confirmed by many of our local season passholders and those who wish to visit but cancelled on their own," says Peter Plimmer, President and CEO of Big White Ski Resort, in a press release issued today, Jan. 21.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has asked residents to stay in their communities and avoid non-essential travel. A public health order banning social gatherings also remains in effect until at least Feb. 5.

"When the provincial health officer clearly states ‘avoid non-essential travel,’ then the subject is not debatable in cancelling reservations for those who live outside our local area, even if it results in a substantial financial hit," Plimmer said.

On Jan. 21, 2020 Big White recorded an occupancy of 87.5%. Today, Jan. 21, the occupancy is 14.7%, the resort reported. Mid-week skier visits are down by 84%, ski and board school by 96%, and other ancillary businesses are down more than 80%.

READ MORE: Clarifying all Dr. Henry’s new orders and restrictions for B.C.

The $7.3 million in revenue doesn’t take into account other departments on the mountain including the ski and board school, food and beverage, equipment rental, sales, retail, events and activities, Big White said.

Small, locally-owned businesses at Big White are also struggling, according to the resort.

Jude Brunt, co-owner of Globe Cafe, said these businesses have gone above and beyond to keep the spaces safe and welcoming.

"We’re also having to keep our staff motivated in innovative ways, when their overall well-being is so adversely affected this season," Brunt said in the release. "Staff virtual team events, care packages and assistance with mental health challenges are all part of our responsibility as employers this year, and our businesses will hopefully survive because of it."

READ MORE: Zip lines, alpine coaster, winter camping in Big White’s big plans for expansion

During the Christmas and New Year's holidays, Big White Ski Resort introduced a new Lift Ambassador program – a program that has provided employment for an additional 12 team members who have moved from inside operations to outdoor operations, Big White said. The ambassadors monitor the lift lines and enforce COVID-19 safety protocols every day, seven days a week.

This weekend, the Big White Fire Department will be assisting in reminding all visitors of the COVID-19 safety program and what individuals can do to bend the curve.                                                          

To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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