On Thursday, September 17, the provincial government released its Stronger BC for Everyone: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan, focused on four key areas: health care, creating jobs and opportunities, supporting BC businesses, and supporting strong communities.

Included in this plan was specific support for BC’s tourism industry, including the creation of a new Tourism Task Force—established to come up with ideas for positioning BC’s tourism industry for a strong 2021 season and for a sustainable future—and investment of more than $100 million for the industry:

  • $50 million to facilitate initial recommendations from the new task force.
  • $19 million to support small municipalities as they adapt and diversify their tourism infrastructure. 
  • Close to $14 million in support for targeted tourism development initiatives.
  • $20 million to the Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program, which will support destination development.

In addition to the funds listed above, Destination BC will also invest an additional $5 million towards its domestic and international marketing efforts.  

“It’s a very good start. We appreciate that the Province recognized the needs of the tourism and hospitality sector with specific measures to help address major challenges including liquidity,” said Tourism Industry Association of British Columbia (TIABC) CEO, Walt Judas. “We are keen to work with Minister Beare and government immediately to put funds into the hands of operators who are desperately trying to keep their doors open. We are also counting on additional support and funding from senior levels of government as part of Budget 2021.”

Eligible businesses can also apply for the Small and Medium Business Recovery Grant, which will offer grants from $10,000 to a maximum of $30,000, with those hardest hit in the tourism sector eligible for a $10,000 top-up on the maximum amount.

“We are pleased to see that the tourism and hospitality sector has been recognized in the provincial government's announcement surrounding economic relief,” said Ingrid Jarrett, President and CEO, British Columbia Hotel Association (BCHA). “As we acknowledge Premier Horgan’s pledge that this is merely a first step toward long-term recovery, we look forward to working with government to ensure the survival and growth of our industry. Through this work, we will continue to champion the needs of accommodators across our province.”

Both Judas and Jarrett were announced on Friday, September 18, as members of the Tourism Task Force; other members include:

  • Tamara Vrooman, president and CEO, Vancouver International Airport (chair);
  • Brenda Baptiste, chair, Indigenous Tourism BC;
  • Nancy Small, chair, BC Destination Management Organization Association, Tourism Richmond;
  • Rod Harris, adjunct professor, Royal Roads University;
  • Glenn Mandziuk, vice-chair, Minister’s Tourism Engagement Council, and president and CEO, ‎Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association;
  • Richard Porges, interim president and CEO, Destination BC
  • Amy Thacker, chair, BC Tourism Regional Secretariat, and CEO, Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association; and
  • a representative from the Labour sector, to be named.

“There is no question that B.C.’s tourism businesses have suffered considerably due to COVID-19, which is why I’m so thankful that the members of this new task force have stepped up to help address the challenges head on,” said Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Lisa Beare. “I am confident their vast expertise will be instrumental in putting tourism in B.C. back on a solid footing.”

Additional supports for business include a PST rebate on select machinery and equipment, support for increasing digital marketing and e-commerce, funding for arts and culture, rent relief for adventure operators, and more; details can be found in the Tourism, Arts and Culture press release. For more information on BC’s Economic Recovery Plan, visit https://strongerbc.gov.bc.ca/.

Looking for additional one-on-one support? The Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) is part of the BC Tourism Resiliency Network and is providing 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.