Reacting to British Columbia’s provincial budget, BC’s major tourism and hospitality sectors said that while they welcomed tourism-related investments that were announced, those measures may not be enough to save some businesses until such time travel restrictions are lifted and inter-provincial and international travellers can once again visit British Columbia.
The Tourism Industry Association of BC (TIABC), BC Hotel Association (BCHA), Association of Beverage Licensees (ABLE BC), and Restaurants Canada (RC) said they acknowledge and appreciate the province’s commitment to support tourism recovery including help for major anchor attractions, as well as funds to continue the Small and Medium-sized Business Recovery Grant Program and the promise to extend the Circuit Breaker program in view of impending travel restrictions. At the same time, access to further recovery contingencies the Province budgeted will be needed to help countless businesses hanging on by a thread.
Walt Judas, CEO, TIABC, said that: “New money to help the tourism and hospitality is certainly most appreciated. Aside from working with government to ensure that available funds flow to tourism businesses as quickly as possible, we will continue to advocate for further relief to access the unanticipated recovery measures that the Province committed to for situations such as the impending travel ban and ongoing border closures that have left our industry in a desperate state.”
And Judas added: “We recognize that many tourism businesses may not survive absent of further support, so we look forward to our dialogue with the Province in the days ahead to find additional ways to help.”
Ingrid Jarrett, President/CEO, BC Hotel Association, observed that: “We’re glad to see the $120 million allocated for support for the tourism sector to assist anchor attractions, for community destination development, and to implement recommendations from the Tourism Task Force. We also acknowledge Minister Robinson’s comments that one of the reasons for the significant amount set aside for contingency funding was to allow government to assist hard hit sectors such as tourism, which continues to experience harm from the ongoing and changing nature of the pandemic. Our members have seen revenues that have, on average, dropped by 70% while fixed costs have only dropped by 4.6%. This has an effect on workers, families and communities. We look forward to continuing to work with the Province to identify ways to help our members, their employees, and the communities they serve.”
Finance Minister Selina Robinson acknowledged the hard-hit tourism and hospitality sector noting it will be challenged by health measures for some time. She also referenced recovery contingencies that remain an option for the sector as the pandemic lingers.
The Province’s 2021 budget included the following allocations related to the tourism and hospitality industry:
- $195 million to continue the Small & Medium-sized Business Recovery Grant Program
- $100 million to support tourism recovery including help for major anchor attractions
- $20 million for community destination development grants to help with new tourism infrastructure like trails and airport improvements
- $83 million (over 3 years) in operating and capital funding for BC Parks to expand and improve trails and backcountry infrastructure, add new campsites, purchase new land to expand parks, improve the Discover Camping reservation system, and support existing park infrastructure
- $6 million in capital improvement grants for the Arts Infrastructure Program
Funding for tourism recovery is included as part of the Province’s $3.25 billion for pandemic and recovery contingencies this year including more than $1.1 billion in unallocated funds for unanticipated recovery measures. Government has also set aside $1 billion in 2022/23 and $300 million in 2023/24 for similar purposes.