COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on the tourism sector and has altered British Columbia’s visitor economy.
Throughout the pandemic, the ministry has consulted extensively with business owners, sector associations and marketing organizations to hear their priorities for recovery and ideas to help British Columbia remain a globally competitive destination.
Stronger BC: BC's Economic Recovery Plan and BC's Restart plan include a cross-government approach to help all aspects of the tourism industry recover, create jobs and grow the economy.
Investing in the resilience of B.C.’s visitor economy:
- B.C.’s Tourism Task Force, made up of leaders from industry, labour and First Nations, delivered its final recommendations to government on reigniting B.C.’s tourism sector and enhancing its long-term competitiveness.
- Based on the task force’s recommendations, the Province has created a $100-million tourism-specific stream under the Small and Medium Sized Business Recovery Grant program.
- On June 4, 2021, the Small and Medium Sized Business Recovery Grant was extended until July 2, with an estimated additional $140 million added for a total of $430 million available to B.C. businesses, more than 40% of those supported are tourism related. Applications for the grant can be accessed here: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/economic-recovery/business-recovery-grant
- The Province has provided $5 million in relief funding through Indigenous Tourism BC for 140 Indigenous tourism businesses. This is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the industry, creating and maintaining nearly 1,200 jobs.
- $53 million has been invested in community-based tourism infrastructure and destination development to help tourism in B.C. recover, create jobs and spur economic development.
- Budget 2021 included $120 million in further funding for tourism recovery, including support for major anchor attractions and further investment in destination development.
- On May 18, the Province launched the BC Major Anchor Attractions Program, which provides up to $50 million for rural and urban anchor attractions and tour bus operators throughout B.C.
- At the end of May, the Province and go2HR launched BSAFE, a made-in-B.C. COVID-19 safety training program for the tourism and hospitality sector to ensure consumer confidence for visitors, workers and communities.
- Destination BC has designed a B.C.-focused campaign, Be Open to More, for summer 2021 and will implement this shortly as restrictions for travel are eased.
- $5 million was invested through Destination BC’s Co-operative Marketing Partnerships Program. The program promotes local travel and recreation by directly funding hard-hit urban centers and tourism sector associations to promote domestic and seasonal tourism activities, for when it is safe to welcome visitors back to the province and support economic recovery in tourism.
- Budget 2021 included an additional $50 million to support the tourism sector to continue to be a destination of choice.
- The ministry will work closely with the Tourism Advisory Table on how to best allocate these funds and to help pave a path forward for the tourism industry.
Helping visitors access communities throughout B.C.:
- The Province is investing $26 million to upgrade provincial side roads and forest service roads, and another $26 million in safety improvements to the access road connecting the Huu-ay-aht community of Anacla and the nearby village of Bamfield to Port Alberni.
- The Province is investing nearly $16 million to improve small, rural airports through air access grants.
Improving the visitor experience:
- The Province is investing $17 million to fund projects that improve the safety of transportation networks like local paths and rail trails.
- BC Parks had record visitation through the pandemic. Government is investing $5 million in parks infrastructure to meet this continued demand.
- The Province will invest $75 million to expand high-speed internet services for rural communities and an additional $15 million to improve Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity along major highways and at key rest stops.
- The Province is investing $21 million to provide additional relief to the arts and culture sector over the short term, helping organizations adapt their operations and artistic practices to the realities of the pandemic so they remain intact for when it is safe to welcome visitors again.