By Charlie Carey
Tourism industry leaders are welcoming new funding from the B.C. government set to help ailing businesses, but says that more support is needed until non-essential travel restrictions are lifted.
On Tuesday (Dec. 22), the province announced $105 million in funding for the hard-hit tourism sector. The funding is one of the key recommendations made by the provincial tourism task force, which is made up of industry leaders and was created to help B.C.’s tourism sector recover from the economic impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Tourism Minister Melanie Mark said Tuesday that the funds will “provide critical support to tourism operators through the winter months, particularly as travel restrictions remain in place.”
Tourism Industry Association of British Columbia board chair Vivek Sharma said the latest measures are only a start.
“On behalf of our industry, TIABC will continue to work with government to ensure they understand the needs of all operators and the workforce going forward, as well as address the gaps for businesses that have yet to qualify for any assistance,” Sharma said.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, hotels, transport providers and attractions have been just some of the businesses affected by lower visitor rates and pandemic response policies. Many of these businesses have had to lay off staff as a result.
“It is well recognized that one of the fastest ways to get more employees back to work is to ensure the health of larger tourism businesses, most of whom also directly and indirectly support many other sectors of the economy,” the association said.
Health officials have restricted non-essential travel within the province until at least Jan. 8. Meanwhile, the U.S.-Canada border has been closed to non-essential travel for much of this year, with no sign of being lifted in the near future.
In partnership with Tourism BC, the government also announced the inclusion of an Indigenous relief funding grant. This $5-million grant will look to sustain Indigenous tourism operators through the winter.
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