Indigenous Tourism BC (ITBC), in partnership with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport, is distributing $5 million to local Indigenous tourism businesses through the BC Indigenous Tourism Recovery Fund.
The fund offers grants of up to $45,000 to support businesses navigate the ongoing economic impacts of COVID-19.
A year after the first COVID-19 case was detected in BC, the tourism industry continues to experience unprecedented contraction and loss of revenues.
To date, ITBC has supported stakeholders through a variety of measures, including the Emergency Relief Fund, which redirected $300,000 earmarked for development and marketing towards supporting Indigenous businesses stay solvent and pivot to long-term recovery; and funding from the Province of BC, on recommendation from the Tourism Task Force, of which $5 million was deployed to Indigenous tourism businesses.
The organization is continuing to assist in 2021 with the Indigenous Alignment Strategy, a three-year plan to rebuild and expand BC’s Indigenous tourism sector through the pandemic and beyond.
Some Indigenous communities remain closed to visitors, and ITBC will continue to provide support to these regions as they move through recovery and rebuild the tourism landscape.
The BC Indigenous Tourism Recovery Fund builds on preceding support by offering additional funding to market-ready Indigenous tourism businesses that continue to experience disruption and financial loss. Funding is intended to keep these businesses solvent as they implement short- and long-term recovery plans.
Brenda Baptiste, Chair and Board Member of Indigenous Tourism BC, said: “Local businesses continue to struggle – and Indigenous businesses are particularly vulnerable, as the majority are small- to medium-sized enterprises that face unique challenges accessing loans or credit.”
Baptiste continued: “An extra $45,000 can go a long way in bridging the gap between the slower winter season and planning for the busier summer, and we hope this funding enables Indigenous tourism businesses across BC to continue operating as we move through recovery.”
Melanie Mark, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport, commented: “We recognize this has been an incredibly challenging year for people working in the Indigenous tourism sector and we want to empower businesses to come back strong when its safe again to welcome visitors to our communities.”
The Minister continued: “This is reconciliation in action – government working in partnership with Indigenous Tourism BC to develop this funding program specifically designed for Indigenous tourism operators. The program is now open and I encourage eligible businesses to apply now.”
Go to www.indigenousbc.com/corporate for more.