US-bound B.C. tourism has hit a slump after a spate of recent severe weather

Tourism operators in the province of British Columbia said Tuesday that nearly half the province’s parks and the region’s West Coast were damaged by flooding over the past two weeks and will likely remain closed for at least the next two weeks, the National Post reported.

Spokeswoman Kate Braidwood said that 11 of 13 provincial parks are closed because of flooding, affecting an estimated 17,000 park visitors.

The regional district of Metro Vancouver said that 26 high-volume regional roadways are closed and will not be reopened for the next few weeks because of debris and washouts.

The weather is another blow to tourism in B.C., which is already dealing with a soft market as Americans avoid summer travel due to high airline fares and the possibility of more, the Post reported.

Last month, the number of U.S. tourists to British Columbia fell 5.7 percent compared with January 2018, while the number of British Columbians travelling south dropped 11.1 percent compared with the same period last year, according to a report from Canada Tourism.

Some local resorts, including the Big Bear area, have seen a 20 to 25 percent decrease in visitors since the beginning of the year.

“We had our average May day earlier this year,” said Owen Howie, a spokesman for North America’s largest ski resort operator, Big Bear Resorts.

Mike Kozub, director of sustainability for Vancouver Airport, said the airport has so far handled 30 to 40 percent less than in a typical April and May, and security lines have been longer.

“It’s a record high in the entire year for any May and going back to May 2005,” Kozub said.

Kozub said he is not ready to declare a state of emergency, but that he expects “the impact of the flooding to keep us down for another month or so.”

“For now, I am just sort of taking it as it comes,” he said.

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