Tourism support funding a long time coming: MLA
The B.C. government Dec. 8 announced it is providing $53 million in support funding for the tourism industry.
A Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport media release notes B.C.’s Economic Recovery Plan to create jobs and spur economic development for tourism businesses, includes:
* $19.4 million to support tourism-dependent municipalities to build, adapt and diversify their tourism infrastructure. Funds are expected to be sent to recipients in February 2021.
* $13.6 million for all six B.C. tourism regions to work with government to identify projects to create jobs and attract new businesses; Funds provided to regions and projects for consideration will be identified by February 2021.
* $20 million to develop local tourism experiences, infrastructure and services; Local governments, not-for-profits and First Nations are eligible for project funding to help bring back visitors to communities. Funds are scheduled to be sent to recipients by March 2021.
“We know these are challenging times, and we appreciate the sacrifice everyone is making to flatten the curve,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. “This investment in local tourism infrastructure will help B.C. communities be ready to welcome travellers as soon as it’s safe to do so and reflects our government’s commitment to get people back to work.”
Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok says it is about time the provincial government stepped up to help the tourism industry.
“This is old money that was committed prior to the election, it should have been delivered before a snap election was called. We need less discussion and more action from this government. The tourism industry of B.C. contributes significantly to our GDP; in 2018 the industry paid out $6.0 Billion in wages and salaries. We need to show this vital industry way more respect,” Clovechok told e-KNOW.
“When the pandemic hit, I met with hundreds of tourism operators from across B.C. to hear their concerns and ideas. I shared all those ideas and concerns with the Premier and his Minister of Tourism. Unfortunately, my hand delivered letters never received a response.”
Included in the funding announcement is $2.3 million apiece for B.C.’s five regional destination management organizations, including Kootenay Rockies Tourism Association.
“On behalf of our regional stakeholders, we are pleased to receive funding for the regional tourism development initiative, which is critically important to the long-term success of tourism here,” said Glenn Mandziuk, CEO, Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association. “Supported through a consultation process and existing strategies, funds will be put toward a variety of important purposes, including the development of economic-generating tourism infrastructures, Indigenous and accessible product development and creation of an industry research platform to better inform tourism operators, government and investors.”
Government should have been listening to tourism associations and industry professionals many months ago, Clovechok pointed out.
“The government needs to start listening to the tourism experts; our tourism industry needs a comprehensive recovery plan from Premier Horgan and his cabinet. We need to get thousands of our tourism workers back to their jobs and give businesses a fighting chance. The money that is being offered is a far cry from what the industry asked for, which was almost $700 million. It is beyond shameful that this government has done nothing in the last 10 months to help the hardest hit industry in British Columbia.
“Frankly, where has this John Horgan government been for the last 10 months while the industry continues to spiral? Am I upset? You bet I am.”
Lead image: Radium Hot Springs pools in Kootenay National Park is once again open, with social distancing requirements. Ian Cobb/e-KNOW photo