It’s no secret that almost every industry has been hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But the one that grew exponentially until the country came to a halt is BC’s wine industry. And in addition to locals enjoying wineries, one of the main drivers for wineries has been suppressed during the pandemic: tourism.
In 2019, BC’s wine and grape industry contributed $3.75 billion to the province’s economy.
According to an industry research report titled “Canada’s Wine Economy – Growth and Innovation Through Global Challenges,” the 2019 numbers clearly show the dedication that has been placed on the industry to make the province a destination of choice.
The report, however, also lays out the major impacts that hit the industry in 2020.
“These results show that for BC’s wine economy to regain the momentum and potential of its pre-pandemic growth, particularly with respect to tourism, strategic collaboration between government and industry will be needed,” said Miles Prodan, Wine Growers British Chief Executive of Colombia.
The report clearly shows how hard the province’s wine industry has been hit in the first nine months of the pandemic.
“In our wine shop, we observed a noticeable lack of out-of-province guests, which is not too surprising that those from overseas were fewer, we expected that the American and Albertan tourists keep coming back, which just hasn’t happened,” said Erin Korpisto, general manager of Stag’s Hollow Winery in Okanagan Falls.
While restrictions have been tightened and relaxed several times throughout 2021, wineries have not seen strong growth in numbers.
“That chunk of tourism is really what’s been diminished as a result of COVID-19,” said Dr. Robert Eyler, chairman of the report’s Economic Forensics and Analytics report. “The ripple effects of a lack of tourism ripple through the wine and related industries. With most economists predicting that global tourism won’t return to 2019 numbers until 2024/25, the wine industry needs to approach tourism differently to close the gap.
Wineries have also experienced common issues such as labor shortages and supply issues, while experiencing extreme weather conditions. But to bring the numbers back to where they were in 2019, Wine Growers British Columbia is working on a BC wine tourism strategy as a pathway for the wine and tourism industry over the next five years (2023- 27).
“The growth from 2011 to 2019 demonstrates that BC’s wine and grape industry is an important driver of the provincial economy that must be defended as we enter the years to come dealing with the effects of shadow of the pandemic,” Prodan said.
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