Tourism traffic has yet to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels for British Columbia’s wine industry.
A new report from the Wine Growers of British Columbia shows just how hard B.C.’s wine industry.
“From 2019 to 2020, we saw that tourism numbers were down about 80 per cent, employment was down about 50 per cent and the economic impact was down almost 66 per cent,” said Wine Growers British Columbia President Miles Prodan in the accompanying press release.
The report showed that while 1,191,500 tourists attended B.C. wineries in 2019, only 254,110 attended in 2020. That reflects a revenue drop from more than $609 million to less than $191 million.
“That tourism piece is really what got diminished as a result of COVID-19,” said report author Dr. Robert Eyler, president of Economic Forensics and Analytics in the release.
“The ripple effects from a lack of tourism feeds into the wine industry and related industries. With most economists predicting that global tourism will not return to 2019 numbers until 2024/25, the wine industry needs to approach tourism differently to bridge the gap.”
Prodan echoes that it could take years for B.C.’s wine industry to recover.
“All over the world wine tourism is down and we don’t see that coming back for the next five years. It’s going to be a slow comeback, it’s not going to be an instant comeback,” he said.
Grizzli Winery in West Kelowna said they used to cater largely to international tourists but since the pandemic have had to pivot their model.
“We are a 20,000-foot tasting room and we had all of our counters full with people and tourists. And then when the pandemic hit everything drastically changed,” said Grizzli Winery marketing supervisor Breanna Nathorst.
“We were not an event based winery pre-pandemic but we really had to change our model away from international tourism and focus on our local audience.”
Grapes being harvested for wine production in Kelowna, B.C.
Wine Growers British Columbia says that pre-pandemic the B.C. wine and grape economy contributed $3.75 billion to B.C.’s economy in 2019, which was an 86.7 per cent increase from 2011.
The organization is calling on the government to help bring back the momentum the industry had pre-pandemic.
“These findings show that for the B.C. wine economy to re-capture the momentum and potential of its pre-pandemic growth, especially as it relates to tourism, strategic collaboration between government and industry will be required,” said Prodan.
Wine Growers British Columbia is working on a BC Wine Tourism Strategy that sets the path for wine tourism for the next five years.
“To fully realize the economic benefits of wine tourism, we must continue making dedicated investments to propel the industry forward. We have a vision of long-term success.” said Prodan.
As fewer wineries produce ice wine this year, consumers may see an increase in price for the premium product