British Columbia

Support for B.C. tourism sector receives $105M funding boost

The B.C. government is adding more money to the emergency grant program, available for tourism businesses struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Funding will be delivered through the small and medium-sized business recovery grant program

The B.C. govenrment has earmarked more emergency grant money for the tourism industry in B.C., which is struggling under the weight of the pandemic's travel restrictions. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

The B.C. government is adding more money to the emergency grant program, available for tourism businesses struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tourism Minister Melanie Mark said on Tuesday the additional cash follows recommendations of a task force report to immediately launch a $105-million fund to help the tourism sector.

The relief fund more than doubles the $50 million for tourism announced in September by the government in its economic recovery plan.

"When we think about tourism, we're thinking about destinations,'' Mark said at a news conference. "We're thinking about experiences. We're thinking about filling our tank and getting away, and we can't do that under COVID-19 and the travel restrictions and we acknowledge that as a government.''

Tourism task force chairwoman Tamara Vrooman said the relief fund provides a first step to positioning the industry for recovery in the COVID-19 era.

"Many of the businesses had a tough summer and tough fall and now we're going into a tough winter, and so the emergency funding to bridge those very vital businesses is to ensure that when the tourists come back, the businesses are there to welcome them with employees who are very happy to work in the sector,'' she said.

The government appointed the 12-member task force last September to make recommendations to support a strong tourism recovery from COVID-19 and strengthen the industry's long-term competitiveness.

The report said tourism contributes more than $20.5 billion to B.C.'s economy and employs more than 160,000 people.

Mark said the government will also provide $5 million to Indigenous Tourism B.C. to help administer relief grants to Indigenous tourism operations.

Last summer, the Tourism Association of B.C. asked the government to provide $680 million to help the struggling sector.

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