This summer most people were “coviding”. Yes, it’s now a verb. Coviding means that people stayed home and only surrounded themselves with close family and friends. Yet, when it comes to summer vacations, most who live in Atlantic Canada have always staycationed. Whether it’s going to their cottage, beaches and golf courses in PEI, touring the Cabot Trail, or to the family homestead, Atlantic Canadians live in a vacation paradise.
Beach Kids 2020
There are exceptions for those who were planning to attend a major concert, festival or baseball game; they would have had to leave the region or country. Yet, most Atlantic Canadians prefer to vacation within the region. I’m not sure why the government needed to put so much tax dollars into advertising for people to experience our beautiful shorelines, hiking trails, historical sites and fabulous seafood, this is something we normally partake in the summer months. Those who have really lost out this summer are the people who had to move away to get a job and now have roots in other provinces and countries. They were not easily able to come home for a summer visit or go their cottage.
In July our Atlantic Canadian bubble began, allowing people to travel freely between the four provinces. Those coming in from the outside the region or country had to register with one of the provinces and self isolate for 14 days. Unfortunately, not all followed the rules. A friend who works in Peggy’s Cove related daily reports of people openly admitting that they just got to Nova Scotia from Ontario or drove across the country from BC. Covid-19 is no joke. A man in Nova Scotia recently passed away after he was exposed to someone who did not self isolate.
We know that less tourism greatly affects the Atlantic Canadian economy. Nevertheless, people here boosted our economy in other ways. Since they were spending more time at home, sales of many items soared. A building supplies company told me they had the best sales in years. You couldn’t find a stitch of wood to build a deck or plant annuals. Pansies sold out in two days. Bicycles sold out, luxury boats sold out, ATVs and other outdoor sports equipment, online sales were reportedly through the roof. The housing market is having bidding wars, with the buyers offering more than the asking price. It was difficult to renting a cottage in Nova Scotia. And let’s not forget the line ups at the liquor and cannabis stores.
The ones who have suffered are salons and spas, restaurants, bars, special event venues; basically any place where there’s an intimate gathering of people. We know these industries are hurting and some pubs and cafes have had to shut down, putting many in the service sector out of work. However, even before Covid-19, these were tough industries to maintain a living and a steady customer base. In the hospitality industry, on the patron’s side, paying $12 – $16 for a cocktail drink or $8 for a beer ($16 if you’re at a concert in Toronto) are prices for people with high disposable incomes or those who don’t have a mortgage, house to upkeep or kids. And if they do go out, they are not ordering a multitude of drinks unless it’s a special occasion; that cannot sustain the bar industry. The service sector is an industry that needs to pivot and reinvent itself. (I could offer solutions, but I would have to be paid for it!)
As the summer is quickly coming to an end, it’s the winter we look forward to, and not for the cold and snow. The winter is when most Atlantic Canadians escape to the Caribbean or sunny Florida. This is especially true for our snowbirds who spent the winter months in the USA. Unfortunately, I somehow doubt medical insurance will cover getting ill from Covid and why would anyone want to risk it. Foreign hospitals are expensive and often insurance agencies may argue that there was an underlying condition.
If Covid-19 continues to stay, tourism in the Caribbean will suffer and so will its people working on the resorts. It could mean great deals for Canadians who want to risk the travel but they may have to self isolate when they return home to Canada. On the flip side, Caribbean countries such as Barbados are offering incentives. If you can work remotely, Barbados will grant you a work visa and you can work from your rental accommodation on the island. There is still the Covid risk from going through airports, sitting on planes and exposure on the island in gatherings. But like anywhere, you have to be smart and wear a mask and sanitize your hands often. Working in Barbados for the winter is something I would do in heartbeat. Now if I can get a good gig that would allow me to do so, I can feel the pink sand on my feet now. But alas, I will settle for the warm sand of Atlantic Canada’s beaches till then.