Downtown Summerland has been quiet during the COVID-19 pandemic, but business leaders are already looking ahead to plans for recovery. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)

Summerland Chamber looks to businesses reopening

Tourism expected to come from within region this summer

As the provincial government begins to move to the next phase in managing the COVID-19 pandemic, the Summerland Chamber of Commerce is working to help local businesses with their recovery plans.

“Now we’re working on the recovery phase,” said David Hull, executive director of the chamber. “Businesses are trying to figure out how to open up again.”

Since mid-March, most businesses have either closed their doors or implemented special measures in order to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

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Hull said there are two parts involved with recovery.

One is getting businesses prepared for reopening. The other is building consumer confidence.

Preparing for the reopening includes making a plan to protect staff and customers. This may include setting up plexiglass barriers between staff and customers.

“The vast majority of businesses will be able to comply with the government’s requests,” he said.

Gaining consumer confidence will be a challenge for businesses, especially those in tourism, Hull said. At present, he said there is significantly less traffic than usual on Highway 97.

He expects to see tourism-related businesses to draw local and regional visitors this year, expanding their reach in the future.

Usually, tourism in the Okanagan comes from British Columbia, Alberta and Washington State, in that order. However, the American traffic may be down as the international border has not yet been reopened.

Once the reopening process is complete, Hull expects to see subtle changes in the way business is done.

“We resist change, but we’re resilient,” he said. “The challenge now for businesses is how to get through this.”

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