Provincial wildfire support funding for Kootenay Rockies
The provincial government is providing the Kootenay Rockies Tourism Association and Thompson-Okanagan Tourism Association with financial support of $200,000 each to help with tourism-related impacts from the B.C. wildfires, announced Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Lisa Beare today.
The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Destination BC and the regional tourism associations will work closely together to ensure the funding is used to support the tourism recovery needs in the affected regions. The province is assessing the needs of those affected by the wildfires in order to support them in the best way possible in the days and weeks ahead.
Working in close collaboration with the regional destination marketing organizations, Destination BC has developed and is implementing a provincial marketing plan to help B.C.’s tourism industry recover from the impacts of the wildfires. Over the last few months, Destination BC has kept travellers informed about the areas that are affected by the wildfires, while ensuring tourists know that most areas of B.C. remain open for business.
Tourism is a major economic driver in B.C., employing 127,000 people throughout the province, supporting nearly 19,000 tourism-related businesses and contributing $7.4 billion toward the Province’s gross domestic product. In 2015, the B.C. tourism industry generated $15.7 billion in revenue, a 5.3% increase over 2014, and a 37.3% increase from 2005.
“I have seen first-hand the impact of the wildfires on British Columbia, and that includes the tourism sector. Today’s investment will support tourism operators and business owners to mitigate tourism-related losses caused by the wildfires and assist regional marketing and recovery efforts. Our government is here to support all British Columbians affected by the wildfires and this funding announcement is one of a number of steps we are taking to assist the recovery and rebuilding efforts,” stated Beare.
“Our ongoing wildfire economic impact survey from this season shows that tourism businesses in the Kootenay Rockies have been highly impacted by loss of visitation and revenue due to the wildfire situation in our area and across the province. The funding that Minister Lisa Beare is providing is greatly appreciated by Kootenay Rockies Tourism Association, and will enable our office to significantly enhance our existing marketing efforts on behalf of all of our tourism businesses. We will work closely with our communities and Destination BC to amplify our wildfire recovery marketing efforts going forward into next spring,” said Kathy Cooper, CEO of Kootenay Rockies Tourism Association.
“The tourism industry in British Columbia has demonstrated strong growth since 2005, despite multiple external shocks, such as the global economic crisis in 2008. Working together, we will also rise above the challenges posed by this devastating wildfire season with courage, determination, and strategic marketing aimed at reminding visitors why they should choose British Columbia for their next vacation. The tourism industry is a powerful force in British Columbia: approximately 19.7 million overnight visitors vacation here each year. This funding will help our affected communities return to what they do best – welcoming the world to British Columbia,” noted Marsha Walden, CEO of Destination BC.
Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok said he lobbied hard for the relief funding and though it took longer than he had hoped for, he is “pleased and appreciative that Minister Beare heard our concerns in August and provided the money.”
Lead image: The fires have had a marked impact on tourism in the region this summer. Pictured, fires played havoc on flight schedules at Canadian Rockies International Airport. Photo by Chad St. Pierre Photography