(Scott Carrier photo)

B.C. tourism industry seeks $680M to rebuild after pandemic

Tourism Industry Association of B.C. says the funds could save as many as 100,000 jobs this year alone

B.C.’s tourism and hospitality sector believes it should receive more than one-third of a $1.5-billion COVID-19 recovery package pledged to the province by the federal government.

A statement from the Tourism Industry Association of B.C. said a coalition of more than 19,000 tourism and hospitality businesses believes the sector should be allocated $680 million to help ease the impacts of the novel coronavirus.

The association said the funds could save as many as 100,000 jobs this year alone and provide immediate assistance to businesses hardest hit by restrictions on travel and limits on gatherings.

It said data from 2018 shows tourism and hospitality brought $20.4 billion in direct visitor spending to B.C. and generated billions more in goods produced and services provided.

Association chair Vivek Sharma said existing stimulus packages aimed at overall economic recovery are helpful, but they aren’t enough to revive a sector in which 300,000 jobs were affected at the height of the pandemic.

Sharma said the association is proposing a three-part recovery starting with $475 million for no-interest loans or other supports to businesses with the potential to return to profitability over the next 18 months.

A further $190 million would help tourism businesses adapt their operations to health and safety requirements, while $15 million would support the accommodation, attractions, transportation, food services and retail industries as they rebuild shattered supply chains.

The association, which presented its proposal to the B.C. government last week, also recommends an industry-government committee to finalize funding and monitor program outcomes.

“For decades, tourism has been a strong and consistent economic engine for the province and significant source of employment in every B.C. community,” Sharma said in the statement.

“What we are asking for is a return on the investments the tourism and hospitality sector has made to the provincial and national economy over those decades.”

Tourism Minister Lisa Beare declined to set a dollar figure for how much of the province’s stimulus funding she believes should go to the tourism sector.

She said only that the provincial government is working closely with the sector and will incorporate its feedback along with more than 10,000 responses from the public on how B.C. should spend the $1.5 billion earmarked for economic recovery.

The province has already worked with the industry to expand patios, cut retail liquor mark-ups for the hospitality sector and create a job matching network for tourism industry personnel who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic, she said.

“We’re going to keep listening to the sector and what their priorities are,” Beare said.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

SLIDESHOW: Chilliwack firefighters battle large blaze at Rosedale chicken barn Friday

Birds were saved but the buildings on Castleman Road were destroyed by fire

Plainclothes Abbotsford police officer deletes cellphone video after drawing gun on innocent man

‘They never asked me what I was doing there, strictly came out with guns, threatening to shoot me’

Chilliwack Fair kicks off tonight with local talent

Todd Richard and Appaloosa to hit the stage for drive-in concert at fairgrounds

VIDEO: Chilliwack chicken barn destroyed by fire

Chickens saved from blaze as firefighters work to control large fire

50-year-old time capsule unsealed at Abbotsford International Airport

Capsule sealed by former PM Pierre E. Trudeau in 1970, when event became ‘Canada’s National Airshow’

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

UPDATE: Police have Maple Ridge hotel locked down

A large contingent of Mounties are at the Art Infiniti Hotel on Lougheed Highway

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

New mothers with COVID-19 should still breastfeed: Canada’s top doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam made the recommendation during World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Collapse of Nunavut ice shelf ‘like losing a good friend:’ glaciologist

The ice shelf on the northwestern edge of Ellesmere Island has shrunk 43 per cent

PHOTOS: Moving day for 110-year-old Fraser Valley heritage house

Chilliwack heritage house makes 1.7-kilometre journey to new location

CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for Aug. 7

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Most Read