UPDATED: Extended public health order forces Big White to cancel more non-local bookings | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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UPDATED: Extended public health order forces Big White to cancel more non-local bookings

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January 08, 2021 - 10:29 AM

Now that the provincial health officer's order limiting social gatherings has been extended for another month, Big White Ski Resort is cancelling all bookings from non-local customers until February.

Big White Central Reservations Ltd. will be calling and cancelling all bookings from non-local customers until midnight Feb. 5, the resort announced in a press release today, Jan. 8.

“I have instructed our reservation teams to start the onerous task of calling excited guests and ski groups from all over the country and cancel their bookings to Big White Ski Resort,” says Tracy Layng, vice president of Big White Central Reservations Ltd, in the press release.

“This will take a few days, as there are literally hundreds of reservations due to the pent-up demand of not being able to visit us earlier this season.”

The travel advisory remains in place until Feb. 5, and the province asks residents to avoid non-essential travel including outside of B.C. and between regions.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry made the announcement yesterday that her order on social gatherings has been extended.

READ MORE: COVID-19 restrictions extended to Feb. 5 in B.C. to 'hold the line'

“We take Dr. Henry’s orders very seriously, and we ask and expect others in our resort community to do the same,” says Michael J. Ballingall, senior vice president of Big White Ski Resort, in the press release.

"The provincial health officer is recommending to avoid all non-essential travel, and to travel within your local area only, and so we are cancelling and encouraging visitors from all around Canada to abide by these rules. Following the rules is not about the bottom line, it’s about bending the curve and staying open for our season pass holders and local skiers and snowboarders.”

“It’s safe to ski at your local mountain,” Ballingall says. “If you live in the Central Okanagan, we are your local mountain. Wear your mask, ski in your household bubble, wash your hands, and don’t gather with people outside your bubble. Being outside, exploring your local area, and supporting your local businesses is how we will find our moment of normal – we’re all in this together.”

The resort is currently operating with roughly 600 employees this season, a normal year would see about 1,300 employees. "We don't have the beds to keep them in, because we had to pivot our bed base (to one person in a room instead of two,)" he said.

The resort is currently recruiting lift operators and ambassadors, who help monitor lift lines and enforce COVID-19 protocols.

"The amount of people skiing every day is only about 25% lower than last year," he said, adding that there are seasons' pass holders that are skiing everyday and some residents have relocated to Big White for the season.

With no ski groups, and lack of visitors will have a huge impact on the local economy at the resort, he said.

The resort is currently hovering between 10-15% occupancy and Ballingall said during a regular season, the resort is about at 90% occupancy.

- This story was updated at 12:45 a.m. to include additional comments from Ballingall.

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