More tourism recovery funds coming
Business events and workforce support initiatives, such as hiring and retaining employees in the tourism sector, will receive more than $9.3 million over the next two years as part of British Columbia’s Tourism Recovery Initiatives Action Plan.
In response to the pandemic, the province is investing taxpayer dollars in the restart of the business events and conferences sector, which was one of the hardest hit and may be one of the last to recover.
This sector makes significant contributions to the provincial economy, a Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport media release noted.
The new Business Events and Conferences Restart Fund will provide up to $5 million this fiscal year and up to $3 million next year to help restart business travel. Funding will be provided to city destination management organizations that were significantly involved in attracting and hosting business events, conferences and exhibitions before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Eligible organizations will be invited to submit proposals to access this funding.
“This investment will generate economic activity by drawing international visitors, who tend to spend more and stay longer, and often travel to other smaller destinations once their business travel is complete. Restarting business events also provides greater economic benefits for the services that support the sector, such as food services, audio-visual companies, event rental companies, event planners, and transportation companies that will subsequently benefit from the return of large conferences to the province,” the tourism ministry said.
“We are once again responding to the call to action put forth by the Tourism Task Force recommendations by investing in business events and bolstering support for the tourism workforce to jumpstart business activity,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport.
“British Columbia’s meetings, conferences, and events sector sustains a significant network of businesses across the province and is critical to the complete rebuild of our provincial economy,” said Ingrid Jarrett, president and CEO, British Columbia Hotel Association. “This meaningful strategic investment will be vital in restoring B.C.’s international reputation as a leading destination for meetings, conferences, and events.”
To help address serious challenges to recruit and retain workers in tourism and hospitality, the province is investing in human resources support for this sector.
More than $1.3 million will fund dedicated human resources specialists in five tourism regions for two years. In partnership with the tourism industry’s human resources association, go2HR, these individuals will provide expert advice to tourism operators in each region, including workforce strategy, recruitment, onboarding, compensation, training, health and safety, and interpreting employment legislation.
In the coming weeks, go2HR will start recruiting on Vancouver Island and in the Kootenay Rockies, Thompson Okanagan, Northern BC and Cariboo Chilcotin Coast tourism regions.
The model was developed based on the success of the Tourism Regional HR specialist position that was created by Destination BC in the Vancouver, Coast & Mountains region in 2021.
“Investing in tourism and hospitality human resources specialists will help our industry survive the pandemic and thrive,” said Krista Bax, CEO, go2HR. “We are thrilled with the Government of British Columbia’s continued support for the industry’s recovery. Today, our industry has more jobs than workers. Creating a network of expert advice for tourism and hospitality employers will benefit employers and workers, help grow the diverse and inclusive tourism and hospitality workforce of tomorrow, and ensure our industry remains a foundational contributor to B.C.’s economic strategy.”
e-KNOW file photo