In response to the Tourism Task Force's final report, which was presented to Melanie Mark, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport last week, the provincial government issued a press release this morning announcing that they will be committing $100 million in dedicated relief funding for the tourism sector, while also allocating $5 million to Indigenous Tourism BC to administer relief grant funding targeted for Indigenous businesses.

The relief funds will be delivered through the Small and Medium-Sized Business Recovery Grant program. Tourism businesses are now eligible for non-repayable grants of up to $45,000, an increase from the previous maximum amount of $40,000. Additional changes to the program mean more businesses will be eligible to apply—as outlined in yesterday's press release, the changes are:

  • instead of requiring a revenue loss of 50% or more, the criteria has been reduced to 30% at the time of application;
  • the requirement to list a variety of remittance accounts, like the registration numbers for the goods and services tax, provincial sales tax and WorkSafeBC, have been removed;
  • businesses that have been in operation for the last 18 months are now eligible (reduced from three years);
  • applications can now be submitted by sole proprietors; and
  • businesses that are temporarily closed or seasonal are now eligible for the program.

If a business has already applied for the program, their application will be reviewed under the new criteria. The new relief grant program for Indigenous tourism businesses will be developed in the coming weeks by ITBC and the province. 

Have questions? The Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) is part of the BC Tourism Resiliency Network and will be providing one-on-one support for tourism businesses in the Thompson Okanagan corridor who have questions about available government support related to COVID-19. Click here to learn more and to register for TOTA's resiliency program.