Butchart Gardens bans use of selfie sticks

Popular Central Saanich tourist attraction cites safety, guest enjoyment as reasons behind ban that started this month.

Butchart Gardens in Central Saanich has banned the use of selfie sticks.

Butchart Gardens in Central Saanich has banned the use of selfie sticks.

Capturing photographic proof that you were where you said you were, is moving into the hands of strangers again — and off the selfie stick.

Butchart Gardens this month has joined other tourist attractions across North America in banning the use of selfie sticks by visitors. Those are the long, thin poles, designed to attach to smart phones to allow users to snap pictures of themselves from a higher or more distant angle.

Dale Ryan, Butchart Gardens’ manager of public relations, sales and marketing, says customers have been complaining about selfie sticks frequently. She said they have been keeping track of those comments and policies at other tourist attractions for the last two years. Concerns have been raised on both the potential for injury caused by the devices and for the potential loss of enjoyment of the surroundings by other guests.

“We didn’t want to react,” Ryan said. “We had a look at guest comments over that period and what other attractions were doing.”

Disneyland and its affiliated attractions banned selfie sticks in 2015, as did the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) in Vancouver. Six Flags resorts in the U.S. banned them as well. Attractions like the San Diego Zoo, still allow their use.

Victoria’s Royal BC Musuem does not allow the use of tripods or monopods, but does allow general photography for personal or educational use. In an email to the News Review, a Museum spokesperson stated: “We do not ban selfie sticks. We trust our visitors to respect the sightlines and experience of others as well as the safety of our objects. We haven’t had any issues to date.”

The website canibringmyselfiestick.com is a list of some of the world’s top tourist destinations — and whether they allow selfie sticks. Many museums on their list appear to not allow the units.

Ryan said when Butchart Gardens looked into the matter, they found most of the complaints occurred during their busiest seasons, summer and Christmas. But instead of making a policy for those periods alone, they decided to make it a blanket ban.

Cameras are still OK to use at Butchart Gardens, Ryan confirmed. Even tripods are fine, as long as they are off the narrow garden paths and are not interfering with other guests’ enjoyment.

One of the times when Butchart Gardens does have complaints over camera or device use, is during their summer fireworks series. Ryan said people often complain about the glow from iPads or other devices while watching the fireworks, as well as camera flashes going off, disrupting the main flashes in the sky.

Ryan said they ask all of their guests to not use flash photography during the fireworks and to respect their neighbours at all times when using other devices.

Central Saanich’s Butchart Gardens regularly welcomes one million visitors each year and Ryan said they are expecting a busier tourist season in 2017.