New program to support anchor tourism organizations
The provincial government is accepting applications for support through B.C.’s new major anchor attractions and tour bus companies funding program.
B.C.’s major anchor attractions create jobs in communities throughout the province and draw visitors to other nearby businesses.
Additionally, tour bus companies are an important link to bring travellers to regional destinations, attractions and experiences. B.C. is not through the pandemic yet, but the number of cases is going down and more than 50% of eligible British Columbians have received the vaccine, stated a May 18 Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport media release.
“Everyone in B.C. has fond memories of visiting or working at our province’s many major anchor attractions. Many communities depend on tourism landmarks to boost the local economy, bring visitors to town and provide many young people with their first jobs,” said Premier John Horgan. “We are helping these important businesses survive today so they are ready for a strong recovery, and future generations can enjoy these iconic institutions for years to come.”
“The pandemic has illuminated on how important anchor attractions and tour bus companies are to our communities and our tourism ecosystem,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. “Our government is responding to a call to action from the Tourism Task Force, which identified the need to fill in the gaps and support these important job creators across our province. We’re taking strong action to ensure they can continue to draw people to B.C., continue enriching our local experiences and keep people employed.”
Anchor attractions and tour bus companies face high fixed costs because of their infrastructure and minimum staffing requirements. With funding announced in Budget 2021, the $50-million BC Major Anchor Attractions Program may offer up to $1 million per attraction through one-time grants.
Eligible expenses include payroll, rent and utility costs related to restarting or ramping up operations in preparation for gradual reopening in alignment with provincial health orders. The funding is available for not-for-profit organizations and businesses.
“For large attractions entering a second year of a 90% reduction in revenue, we appreciate this funding gesture as it will help contribute toward some fixed costs like insurance or property tax,” said David Cowan, CEO, Butchart Gardens, and Nancy Stibbard, CEO and owner, Capilano Suspension Bridge Park.
The application window will be open until June 7 with funds provided in July 2021.
Examples of criteria and eligible organizations include:
* Major anchor attractions in urban centres that receive 75,000 or more visitors per year – eligible for up to $1 million.
* Major anchor attractions in rural areas that receive 15,000 or more visitors per year – eligible for up to $500,000.
* Tour bus companies that serve 30,000 or more passengers per year – eligible for up to $500,000.
* Examples of “turnstile” attractions eligible for the program include amusement parks, wildlife parks, botanical gardens, heritage institutions, museums, galleries and science centres.
Organizations that are not eligible include: Accommodation providers including hotels, lodges, motels, resorts, campgrounds and RV parks; restaurants, casinos and spas; Car/RV rental; Wineries; Convention centres and other event venues; festivals and events; marinas; and Crown corporations.
Lead image: Fort Steele Heritage Town is an example of an anchor tourism attraction. e-KNOW file photo