Officials at Big White Ski Resort say they have cancelled on-hill accommodation bookings and lift tickets worth millions of dollars since initial travel advisories were announced by the provincial health officer in late November.
According to resort president and CEO Peter Plimmer, those cancellations, through Jan. 21, have cost the resort $7.3 million.
Those losses don't include other operations on the hill including the ski and board school, equipment rentals, food and beverage service, hard and soft good sales, retail sales, events and activities.
It also doesn't include spin-off losses to restaurants, accommodations and other businesses both on, and off the mountain.
"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 Plimmer.
"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. It will always snow at Big White, and eventually COVID-19 will be gone. But, while it’s here, our focus is day to day.”
Plimmer says a new lift ambassador program instituted over the Christmas holidays has provided employment for 12 people who have transitioned from indoor operations to outdoor.
The ambassadors monitor lift lines and ensure COVID-19 protocols are being followed.
Occupancy at the ski resort is 14.7 per cent, down from 87.5 per cent this time last year. Mid week ski visits are down 84 per cent while the ski and board school is down 96 per cent.
Other businesses on the hill are down more than 80 per cent.
"We are grateful to our locals and season passholders for following the rules and skiing at their local hill," says senior VP Michael J. Ballingall.
"Every choice we, as individuals, make, every opportunity we have to 'do the right thing,' is imperative during these times. For everyone who has stayed home when they felt unwell, who has gotten a test, who has forgone a family or friend get together, who has cancelled their trip due to travel advisories – you are the reason we still have a ski season, and we applaud you for it. After all, it can truly be said ‘we’re all in this together.’”