Few businesses around the world were spared from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses that rely on tourism, in particular, suffered during the ensuing lockdowns and travel restrictions. Around the world, countries saw an average of 72 percent fewer international tourists in 2020. Even after travel restrictions were lifted, fewer people were traveling, whether as a result of the pandemic or the inflation that occurred in its wake.
Many of the remote islands on British Columbia’s coast suffered from the sudden drop in tourism. These islands have a small number of year-round residents and rely heavily on the income from the tourists that make their way to the region every year. When tourism came to a stop in 2020 and continued to be slow through 2021 and into 2022, businesses like hotels, fishing lodges, restaurants, shops, and tour companies saw their income rapidly dry up.
Travel is now ramping up in the region. But many businesses still need our help, especially during the slower winter travel season. This is where the Island COMEBACK program comes in! Let’s take a closer look at this unique program, and how you can help our beloved Malcolm Island businesses.
What is Island COMEBACK?
Island COMEBACK is an initiative that was launched to help provide additional support to remote coastal community businesses on British Columbia’s rural islands. This includes artisans, food producers, community organizations, and a variety of other types of businesses that have seen a loss of income as a result of COVID-19. The program was created by the Rural Islands Economic Partnership Society, or RIEP.
Through this program, people from around the world can offer support in two ways. The first is to make a direct donation to these communities. The second is to purchase online Gift Certificates for businesses throughout these rural communities. These businesses receive 100 percent of the revenue from donations and gift certificates.
Since the program launched, 160 businesses and organizations have joined, located across nearly 20 British Columbia islands.
Helping Local Malcolm Island Businesses
Malcolm Island is home to fewer than 700 year-round residents. But the town of Sointula British Columbia is home to a variety of local businesses catering to the thousands of tourists who visit the island each year. From local Sointula restaurants to art galleries, hotels, stores, Airbnbs, and more, these businesses rely on income from tourists. When that came to a sudden stop in early 2020, the local Malcolm Island community was hit hard.
Now, three years later, the town of Sointula is bouncing back! But after so many years of fewer visitors, many local businesses could still use some help, especially in the midst of the long off-season on British Columbia’s western coast.
Sointula British Columbia Businesses Participating in Island COMEBACK
In total, five Malcolm Island businesses participated in Malcolm Island COMEBACK. You can purchase gift cards for these businesses to use during a future visit. Or, make a direct donation to the business.
The Sointula British Columbia businesses participating in the Island COMEBACK program include:
- Burger Barn
- Coho Joe Cafe
- Friends of the Wild Side
- Rauhala Heritage Farms
- Sointula Museum and Historical Society
- Sointula Resource Centre Society
When you participate in the Island COMEBACK program by making a donation or purchasing a gift card, you will be asked to cover the 3 percent processing fee. This allows the businesses and organizations to receive the full dollar amount of your contribution.
Helping Sointula British Columbia Businesses Make a Comeback
The Island COMEBACK program has been a big help to British Columbia businesses suffering from a lack of tourism as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. But another great way to help local Sointula British Columbia businesses is to start planning your next visit!
Visiting Malcolm Island is a great way to see for yourself the special communities that exist on the region’s many rural islands. Here, you’ll find a special, tight-knit community that welcomes tourists from around the world to see what makes their island so special.
While we might still be a few months away from the tourism season, now is a great time to start planning your next visit. This is especially true if you’re hoping to visit popular destinations like Sointula Lodge, which offers a limited number of annual tour packages, which often sell out ahead of time. Booking your visit now will allow you to guarantee your choice of dates, and give you plenty of time to plan the rest of your travel arrangements, like flights, rental cars, or hotels for before and after your Sointula Lodge stay.
Ready to start planning a 2023 visit to Sointula British Columbia? Check out our planning resources to get started today!