P.E.I. announces $50M loan assistance program for tourism operators
'As minister responsible for tourism my heart breaks for our Island's tourism industry'
The government of P.E.I. announced a new $50 million loan assistance program to support the province's tourism sector as the upcoming tourism season remains uncertain amid COVID-19.
In a briefing Thursday afternoon, Minister of Economic Growth and Tourism Matthew MacKay said the loans would be distributed through Finance PEI and would offer a maximum of $1 million financing at a four per cent interest rate.
Both principal payments on the loan and interest will be deferred for the first 18 months, he said.
"As minister responsible for tourism my heart breaks for our Island's tourism industry. I wish I had a crystal ball to ease your worries and your fears."
The province also announced a $10 million interest relief program for tourism operators on existing loans for up to 18 months, MacKay said. The loans can be with local banks, credit unions or Finance PEI.
"While no one knows what the future holds for the Island tourism season, the key item P.E.I. Tourism remains focused on is preparation," he said.
We're still confident that we'll have somewhat of a tourism season. That's what we're working toward.— Matthew MacKay, Minister of Tourism
In addition, MacKay announced $1 million toward expanded marketing and research for the tourism industry.
The province is also waiving fees for licensing, inspection and advertising for the remainder of the 2020 tourism season, at a cost of $2 million. MacKay added that those who have already paid will be reimbursed.
"We know there is still no simple solution that will solve the problems the tourism industry is currently facing."
While there are no firm numbers on jobs or money lost in the industry, MacKay said the province has received feedback from accommodations operators that a high number of bookings have been lost as a result of the pandemic.
"It's the unknown, we're still confident that we'll have somewhat of a tourism season. That's what we're working toward," he said.
In the meantime, MacKay said the main focus will be to provide financial support to the Island's tourism operators as the situation unfolds.
In a release, the province noted that non-profit organizations that have received funding from Tourism PEI or the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency for events that have been cancelled as a result of COVID-19 will be fully compensated for all eligible expenses.
In total, through these initiatives, the province will be offering $66 million to provide relief to the Island's tourism industry.
COVID-19: What you need to know
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Common symptoms include:
But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia, which can lead to death.
Health Canada has built a self-assessment tool.
What should I do if I feel sick?
Isolate yourself and call 811. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested. A health professional at 811 will give you advice and instructions.
How can I protect myself?
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Clean regularly touched surfaces regularly.
- Practise physical distancing.
More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.