Victoria man upset full refund not offered after B.C. travel restrictions tank Airbnb plans

No matter how nice your condo is, it can be hard to stay at home after more than a year during a pandemic. That's why Victoria man Casey Edmunds and his partner planned a quick trip to Kelowna for his birthday.

"(We wanted) to get away from Victoria after a year of being cooped up," he said. "We booked our flights and booked an Airbnb."

But then, the plans changed. B.C. announced that it was restricting all non-essential travel for more than a month.

He says he had no problem getting a full refund for his flight from Pacific Airlines, but the owner of the Airbnb he planned to stay in said no.

If an Airbnb operator has a "strict" cancellation policy, people who cancel their booking within seven days of their arrival are only eligible for a 50 per cent refund.

"In the meantime, I connected with Airbnb to see if they could support my case and the fact that this was not a change of plans on my end, it was a provincial travel ban," he said.

The company replied, saying that a policy is a policy and no refund would be available, but Edmunds could re-book his reservation for a later date.

"Two days ago I messaged her saying, 'I don't feel comfortable staying with you, I'd really appreciate a full refund,'" he said.

But the host declined, saying that they would be sticking to the 50 per cent refund policy and that Edmunds should take up his concerns with the provincial government.

"Your frustration and mine should be redirected to the government for imposing these regulations that don't consider small businesses and the rights to move freely," the Airbnb host told Edmunds.

On Friday, B.C. Solicitor General Mike Farnworth provided an update on how the province planned to enforce its travel restrictions. During the briefing, CTV News asked Farnworth how he felt about this situation.

"I think that individual needs to take a long, hard look in the mirror," he said.

"For the next five weeks, when someone's cancelling a booking, they (should) get a full refund because then they're going to come back," he said. "What they've done now is lost a customer, and an awful lot of others."

Farnworth said that the current travel restrictions, if followed, would help B.C. businesses reopen sooner than if health orders are not respected. He said "short term greed" would end up damaging B.C.'s economy in the long run.

As for Edmunds, he says he's not expecting a full refund anymore.

"I'm also realistic. I don't think she's going to want to refund me," he said.