COVID-19 may have hindered urban tourism development, but it won’t stop the inevitable. Cities worldwide are preparing for a new influx of tourists, eager to explore what’s trending, and British Columbia is no exception.
What is Urban Tourism?
The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) refers to urban tourism as a type of activity occurring in an urban area. This “urban” space should be an area that doesn’t depend on an agricultural economy, i.e., manufacturing, trade, or services as the dominant forms of economic activity.
Urban tourism activities can be any of the following:
Sightseeing and Attractions: Visiting museums, historical sites, religious sites, and other tourist attractions.
Business Travel: This includes attending conferences, meetings, and other business activities.
Recreation and Leisure: Enjoy restaurants, theatres, nightclubs, sporting events, and shopping.
Hospitality and Accommodation: Stay at the finest hotels, motels, hostels, apartments, or bed and breakfasts.
What’s Trending in Urban Tourism?
A few trends shape urban tourism, even in the post-pandemic world.
The Rise of the Megacities: With more than half of the world’s population living in cities, it’s no surprise that megacities are becoming a popular destination for tourists. These cities offer an amazing array of attractions, businesses, and recreation options, all in one place.
Experiential Tourism: People are increasingly looking for unique experiences when they travel. They want to connect with the local culture and feel like they’re a part of the destination they’re visiting. This has led to a rise in experiential tourism, including activities like food tours, wine tastings, and cultural experiences.
Sustainability and Eco-Tourism: As the world becomes more aware of the need to protect our environment, sustainable tourism becomes the new normal. Eco-tours are a popular form of sustainable tourism, including activities like hiking, biking, and canoeing. This type of tourism focuses on minimizing the negative impact of tourism on the environment and local communities.
How is British Columbia Preparing for Urban Tourism?
British Columbia is preparing for the growth in urban tourism by investing in new infrastructure and attractions. The province is also working to ensure that tourism is sustainable and eco-friendly.
Surprisingly, post-pandemic BC has a lot to offer for tourists hoping for a “restart” after more than two years of lockdowns and travel cancellations.
Vancouver still has the Canucks, Lions, and Whitecaps to support. The arts are well represented with theatre productions from Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival to world-class Vancouver Symphony Orchestra concerts.
If nature is more your thing, Stanley Park still provides plenty of trails for a morning jog or evening stroll to take in the sights and smells of the west coast. Here’s our list of to-dos if you’re planning to visit Vancouver and other cities in BC:
1 – Fly into Mount Edziza Provincial Park
The remoteness of this park located in the northwestern part of BC means that it’s one of the least visited in the province. But that’s not to say there’s nothing there.
There’s no road access, which means your only hope is to fly into the park. You’d enjoy many activities, i.e., camping, fishing, and canoeing. A trailhead will also take you up to Mount Edziza, a dormant volcano.
2 – Visit Butchart Gardens
This world-famous Butchart Gardens are a must-see for any urban tourist. The gardens feature beautiful floral displays, sculptures, and a variety of gardens to explore. The gardens are located in Victoria, a short ferry ride from Vancouver.
3 – Ski or snowboard at Whistler Blackcomb
This world-class ski resort is located just two hours north of Vancouver. Considered the largest in North America, the resort features more than a hundred trails and is a popular destination for skiers and snowboarders. Even an urban tourist will appreciate the beauty of the Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resorts in the winter.
4 – Take a wine tour in the Okanagan Valley
The Okanagan Valley is one of the most popular tourist destinations in BC. The vineyard scenery in the valley is simply beautiful. The valley is home to more than 150 wineries, making it the perfect place for a wine tour. You can also enjoy other activities like golf, hiking, and biking.
5 – Indulge in Vancouver
No trip to BC would be complete without a visit to Vancouver. This world-class city has something for everyone, from great restaurants and nightlife to outdoor activities and attractions. You could easily spend a week exploring all that Vancouver has to offer.
Vancouver is undoubtedly the best representation of urban tourism in British Columbia, highlighted by world-class hotels, restaurants, and attractions. If you’re looking for a city to visit that has it all, Vancouver is your place.
Immerse yourself on a dinner cruise across the city’s seafront harbour and marvel at the Coast Mountains while you enjoy a meal. Or, if you’re looking for a more thrilling experience, check out the whale watching tour just outside of downtown. Whatever your interests, Vancouver will not disappoint.
6. – Shop until you drop
If you’re looking to do some shopping during your urban tourism trip, head on over to Robson Street in downtown Vancouver. This popular street is home to high-end shops and boutiques. You’ll also find plenty of restaurants, bars, and coffee shops here.
If one district isn’t enough for you, head to Granville Island. This island is home to an indoor public market where you can find fresh produce, meat, and seafood. You’ll find plenty of arts and crafts here, too.
7. – Relax at a spa
After all that shopping and sightseeing, you’ll need to relax. Vancouver and Victoria have no shortage of spas to choose from. Most hotels in these cities also have spas on-site, but you can also go to fancier spa resorts.
The KurSpa at Sparkling Hill Resort in Vernon is a great option. This spa features different saunas, a steam room, and an outdoor infinity pool. You’re offered a hundred different services and treatments, not to mention the incredible views of Okanagan Lake.
The Kingfisher Oceanside Resort and Spa’s luxury Pacific Mist Spa affords a unique spa experience with seaside elements treatments. The place is surrounded by nature and boasts a heated pool, a couples’ suite, and an outdoor fireplace.
8. – Go golfing
There’s no shortage of premium golf courses in BC. The Capilano Golf & Country Club first comes to mind when thinking of golfing in the Vancouver area. This is an 18-hole championship course that offers stunning views of downtown and Mount Baker.
If you’re looking for a golf course with more of a challenge, try the Predator Ridge Resort. Its elevation and tight fairways make for a tough course – but the views are worth it.
So, what’s your favourite urban tourism activity in British Columbia? Well, why not try them all? With so much to see and do after the pandemic, there’s a lot of ground to cover. From wine tours to city exploration, the province has it all. Get out there and enjoy!
The world stopped momentarily for the past two years, yet the post-pandemic BC is something to look forward to.