Governments pump money into B.C. tourism organizations

Feds provide $1.5 million in new money while Destination BC provides $400,000

Governments have been increasing funding for tourism organizations as the COVID-19 virus continues to pummel tourism-sector revenues in B.C. 

Canadian government, on May 31, announced that its latest contribution is $1.5 millon into two B.C. tourism associations: $500,000 to Indigenous Tourism Association of British Columbia, and $1 million to the Tourism Association of Vancouver Island. The funding flows through Western Economic Diversification Canada, and it comes on the heels of $400,000 in provincial funding announced May 28, which will flow through Destination British Columbia. 

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The Tourism Association of Vancouver Island will share the $1 million, and provide $200,000 each to four other tourism associations: Kootenay Rockies Tourism Association, Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association, Northern British Columbia Tourism Association and the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association. The province's sixth regional tourism association, Vancouver, Coast and Mountains Tourism Association, will not get the money because it is separately managed by Destination BC.

All five of the tourism associations that get the $200,000 will spend the money to educate business owners on how to access government programs, Tourism Association of Vancouver Island CEO Anthony Everett told Business in Vancouveron May 31.

"We get a business that needs help and we work with them in the weeks and months ahead to guide them through government programs to help their business survive," he said. 

The $400,000 that Destination BC is providing will be split between 15 organizations that represent tourism niches, such as the BC Wine Institute, Western Canada Mountain Bike Tourism and the BC Guest Ranch Association.

The funds aim to help the associations to support members, provide direction on how to implement health and safety measures and work with Destination BC to develop marketing plans.

“Whether it’s fishing or golfing, mountain biking or wine tasting, we want to help B.C.’s tourism businesses get back on their feet as quickly as possible,” said Marsha Walden, President and CEO at Destination BC. “These one-time grants will help sector associations support their members on the road to recovery.”

Destination BC's funding will support operating and administrative costs, and help the associations survive. 

“Tourism sector associations play a key role in supporting people working in the tourism industry and demand for their services has increased significantly during COVID-19,” says Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Lisa Beare. “We want sector associations to be able to continue contributing to the long-term well-being of the tourism industry.”

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread in B.C. even though transmission has slowed. As of yesterday, 2,573 British Columbians had been infected with 164 of those dying – statistics that compare favourably with other provinces. For example, there have been 51,059 cases and 4,641 deaths in Quebec, and 27,859 cases and 2,266 deaths in Ontario.

One of its largest impacts on B.C.'s tourism sector is that the federal government on May 29 announcedthat cruise ships will not be able to dock at Canadian ports until at least October 31. That scuttled B.C.'s cruise season, which the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority estimates to bring in about $2.2 billion to B.C.’s economy through 13,866 jobs and almost $700 million in wages. Each cruise ship that docks in Vancouver generates an estimated $3 million in economic impact to the region, according to the port authority.

gkorstrom@biv.com

@GlenKorstrom

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