February 14, 2000
My experience with living on, visiting and housesitting on many of the Gulf Islands on the west coast Canada has made me realize that winter life and even winter lifestyle is quite different from summer life and a summer life style.
One thing, for sure, is Gulf Islanders experience lean economic times in the winters and, although they do not always welcome tourists in the summer, they do welcome tourism dollars:
Gulf Islands Driftwood – Pender Islands Edition
Wednesday, August 23, 2000
Tourism booming on friendly Penders, claim businesses
by Tanya Lester
Accommodations businesses report that tourism is busier than ever on the Penders this summer and they chalk it up to a strong American dollar, hospitable islanders and nicer weather.
At the Inn on Pender Island, owner Dave Dryer said he is “busy as a bird dog.” Last years was a decent year while this year is fantastic, he said, with July’s business surpassing that of last August which is traditionally the best month. July and September are usually the second best months.
Room bookings are up 40 per cent, Dryer said. He keeps thinking the bubble will burst but bookings are already looking good for September. Restaurant business is also good.
Dryer is checking in more people from farther away in the United States including California, North Carolina and Texas. There are more Albertans over last year while people form BC still make up the bulk of his guests. He always gets some Germans each year and there was also an Italian visitor this season.
The better weather earlier on in the summer was a factor as was the strong US dollar, Dryer said.
The only fly in the ointment has been some snags for tourists coming from Nanaimo who found they were out of luck if they did make a reservation for the ferry.
Penny Tomlin-Skillen of Sahhali Serenity Oceanfront Bed and Breakfast told the Penders Edition that 70 per cent of her guests are Americans this year. The strong US dollar is enticing them across the border and into the Gulf Islands.
Once here, Tomlin-Skillen said, the tourists appreciate the great food at local restaurants, the first-class kayaking and the “good-hearted people of Pender.”
Tomlim-Skillen has several stories about the residents going the extra mile for visitors. One man repaired a jeep’s roof rack, used for carrying a kayak, at no charge. Another rescued a man who in trouble in a kayak on the water.
American guests have the highest praise for local doctors when they require medical assistance, said Tomlin-Skillen. They appreciate how effective and efficient the physicians are.
In another case, someone who experienced a stroke was impressed with the ambulance crew.
Several commented about how the work of local artisans has diversified, said Tomlin-Skillen.
She also felt another factor contributing to booming business is the warmer sunnier weather over last summer.
Barry Lynd at Beauty Rest by the Sea Bed and Breakfast also finds business is up over last year.
He said his bed and breakfast seems to attract retired and professional people including the man who owns and underwater motel in Florida. They spend a day looking around the islands and then tend to want to sit outdoors and relax, taking in the ocean traffic.
He said a lot of Albertans have visited this summer as well as tourists from the Lower Mainland and the Pacific Northwest.
Surprisingly, he has had a number of guests from Vancouver Island.
Lynd figures that after they pass by the Gulf Islands on the ferries to Vancouver a few times, they are enticed to come and visit.
Some of his visitors have bought property on the Penders, including a family from Singapore. Tomlin-Skillen has had the same experience with guests from England, Texas and Langley purchasing homes here.
Other businesses not specializing in accommodations are finding visitor impact not as significant.
Business is fair at the Galloping Moon Gallery according to Bob Culmer.
Culmer said the threat of BC Ferries workers going on strike earlier in the season put a damper on people’s plans to come to the islands.
Malcolm Armstrong of Armstrong Artists’ Studio indicated he is doing reasonably well. He said the studio, which he has operated for 13 years, used to do better before studio numbers increased on the Penders.
“There are probably more people coming to Pender but not in proportion with the studio numbers,” he said.
Shirley LePers of the Lions Club’s Visitor Info Centre estimates the number of tourists was up 25 per cent in July as compared to an-all time low last year which left figures at 30 per cent less than other years.
There is no question that 95 percent of visitors who seek information from the info centre kiosk are from other parts of BC, she said.
Next in numbers is Washington State followed by Alberta and then the Prairies, with a smattering from Europe and Asia.
They almost always want a map and want to know where the walking trails, beaches and craft stores are. LePers added that the Saturday markets are also popular.
Most come with accommodations already booked, said LePers.
The info cenre is volunteer-run with two students — one from May to September and another from July to August — employed there for the summer.
To read more posts on this blog of eclectic stories and other writings by and about Tanya, go to writingsmall.wordpress.com and tealeaf56.wordpress.com
Tanya’s books are available in some library systems and Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader and Friends I Never Knew can be purchased from the author or on amazon.ca Her other titles are Women Rights/Writes and Dreams and Tricksters.
Tanya now works as an intuitive counsellor who specializers in tea leaf reading, tarot, psychic channeling, gypsy card reading and mediumship. She is also a Reiki master and fulltime housesitter. For more on her services go to her website at teareading.wordpress.com She also has pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google and is an Align member. You can also contact her directly by texting or calling 2505380086 or emailing email@example.com