The village of Fort Langley. (Jennifer Blyth/Special to the Langley Advance Times)

The village of Fort Langley. (Jennifer Blyth/Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Langley residents encouraged to be tourists in their own backyard

Despite COVID-19 restrictions, tourism industry is optimistic about summer months ahead

“It’s never been in my job description to tell people not to come to Langley,” said Erinn Kredba, executive director of Tourism Langley. “Right now the whole concept has changed.”

The COVID-19 pandemic brought the tourism industry to a grinding halt across the globe in March, with an onslaught of plane groundings, border closures, and social distancing restrictions.

Kredba told the Langley Advance Times that Tourism Langley has been working with Destination Canada to adapt to those changes and focus on an “Explore BC” initiative to amplify the message of “hyper-local.”

“This will come and go,” she assured, but for right now, Kredba is encouraging people to be a tourist in their own community.

“Take this time to explore your own backyard,” Kredba said. “Some people take their hometown for granted and have not heard that there are great parks in Aldergrove or didn’t know how many breweries we have in Langley.”

Krebda suggested walking a local trail and ordering takeout from a Langley restaurant that they may have never tried before.

Teri James, executive director of the Downtown Langley Business Association (DLBA), confirmed that patrons are indeed eating local, with fine dining establishments noticing a spike in clientele now that dine-in options are once again available.

“The restaurant owners that I’ve been talking to have indicated that, although people are now starting to venture in and enjoy a dining in experience, pick-up and take-out is still going strong,” James said.

As the summer arrives, and more people traditionally seek travel and recreation time, the tourism industry as whole is wondering what their busiest time will look like.

James said many business owners have developed a strong online presence and have a huge support system within the community and their loyal customer base that they have built.

READ MORE: Picnics and downtown dollar contests announced to help stimulate Langley City

“I believe that the general consensus is that those businesses that have put strong safety measures in place are going to see people start to venture out and start exploring our downtown again,” she explained.

An open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and all premiers as the B.C. government recently stated that “it’s time our governments allow Canadians to travel freely.”

The letter is signed by a business and tourism leaders across the country, including Greg D’Avignon, CEO of the Business Council of B.C., Perrin Beatty, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, hotel owners and airport executives from Halifax to Prince George.

It urges a return to not just travel within Canada but internationally as well.

Horgan and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix have repeatedly indicated in recent days that they consider U.S. travel to be a non-starter at this stage, with border closures extended another month until mid-July.

Once restrictions begin to lift, Kredba is confident Langley’s tourism will boom immediately given what the area has to offer.

“It’s a destination of what people will want,” Kredba assured. “Langley has that city and country feel – wider spaces. After being cooped up all this time, where do you think people will want to go?”

While she admitted the industry will not look exactly the same as it was going forward, Kredba said local tourism is resilient and is feeling optimistic heading into phase three.

“I would like to reassure our residents that the downtown Langley businesses have worked very hard to keep going, and now with their safety measures firmly in place, they would love to see you,” James added. “The City parks have never been more beautiful and if you haven’t explored your community before, now’s your chance.”

For ideas on what to do and where to do as a local tourist in Langley, people are encouraged to visit www.tourism-langley.ca and www.downtownlangley.com.

In March, Tourism Langley moved into new offices on second floor of the new air traffic control tower at the Langley Airport – Unit 220 5385 216 St.

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