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UBC Theses and Dissertations

COVID-19’s attack on tourism and the adventure communities that defended it Kunis, Adam J.


The COVID-19 pandemic has presented unprecedented uncertainty for the health, safety, and wellbeing of tourism dependent communities. In the first two years of the pandemic, it was estimated that COVID-19 led to four trillion United States Dollars in losses in GDP to the global tourism economy (UNCATD, 2021). The goal of this research is to understand how adventure tourism stakeholders in British Columbia’s (BC) Thompson Okanagan tourism region were affected by the pandemic. Results from this study include insight into the vulnerabilities and adaptation strategies of adventure tourism stakeholders and highlight cases of resilience in the Thompson Okanagan tourism region. This research was completed in partnership with the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA), a Canadian non-profit that represents and supports regional business and community tourism interests (TOTA, 2022). A collaborative research design with TOTA was used because it enabled the direct incorporation of tourism stakeholders’ needs into the research design and facilitated the rapid dissemination of results to key regional decisionmakers. The mixed-method exploratory research was successful in identifying impacts of COVID-19 on BC adventure tourism, barriers and limitations for response, strategies for navigating uncertainty, the importance of client and community relations, and pandemic-driven adaptations and innovations. Destination stakeholders in Thompson Okanagan adventure communities demonstrated a high degree of resilience to the onset of COVID-19. Key resilience findings from this study include adventure operators’ ability to strategize and reframe challenges into opportunities, the importance of diversified tourism markets, the impact of proactive communication among value networks, and an understanding of the relationship between sustaining the environment and sustaining adventure recreation. The results from this case study can be used to identify tourism vulnerabilities as well as areas of opportunity for resiliency and sustainability development.

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Attribution 4.0 International