South Cariboo resort owners are looking to work with local government to keep their businesses profitable in the wake of wildfires, high gas prices and ballooning property taxes.
Sheila Nyman, of Sulphurous Lake Resort, said finding staff has also made it tough to keep going. Last summer, for instance, she had to ask family members who came to visit to help out.
“I have teenage grandkids and I have four adult kids and we’ve all pitched in,” she said, adding they “couldn’t find people to do the work.”
The problems facing the resort industry are not new. In a story on property assessments in the February 1975 edition of the Free Press, Duncan Myers of the Cariboo Tourist Association described the issue as “a vicious circle” during a meeting with the premier’s office.
Being viewed as unprofitable was a major handicap in securing financing,” he said. Yet without being able to upgrade, operators had no hope of increasing their net return after meeting personal requirements and increasing their ability to finance future upgrades.
Nyman said she considered applying for the Tourism Relief grant but after going through the application, she realized her resort would not have qualified.
“A big company could. They’d have assets they could put up. We don’t look that good on paper anymore after the last few years. We fell through every crack,” Nyman said.
Leanne Sallenback, of South Point Resort, added a lot of resorts can’t afford loans. “Most of us never went after loans, because we don’t want to take on more debt,” she said.
Sallenback added they have decided to put upgrades on hold at their resort because of the increased operations costs to ensure smooth operations and solid cash flow.
“We have spent four years upgrading the resort to its current level, and we still have a lot to do,” she said. “It’s hard because the demand for amenities, rentals and offerings continues to grow.
“Tourism is an economic driver to the region and resorts are an important part of that. Maybe there is an opportunity to work with local governments on figuring out a strategy to ensure the future of resort properties in the region is still viable.”
Lorne Doerksen, MLA for Cariboo Chilcotin acknowledged the situation has put pressure on all the tourism outlets across the region.
“Government has to find creative ways to work around some of these obstacles, at least for the time being, just to get these people through what has been an unbelievable challenge,” he said.
Nyman is hoping for a better summer as more ‘locals’ discover the gem in their backyard or travel up from the coast instead of vacationing overseas.
“We’re going to keep going because it’s beautiful up here. This is an amazing place and the government should be paying attention to small business because that’s what we all are.”
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