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. B.C.’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan includes 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.
- The final recommendations are available here:
- Applications for the grant can be accessed here:
- The final recommendations are available here:
- The Province has also allocated $5 million in relief funding to be administered through Indigenous Tourism BC for Indigenous tourism businesses, one of the fastest-growing sectors of the industry.
- Government will invest $19 million to help small municipalities build, adapt and diversify their tourism infrastructure, such as trail construction, visitor centre improvements and accessible and COVID-19 safe washroom upgrades. This program will create job opportunities in the communities and prepare for the future.
- The Province is investing $13.6 million to support targeted tourism development projects across the six tourism regions in B.C. to help the industry recover from COVID-19.
- Destination BC is investing an additional $5 million to continue to market British Columbia domestically and secure its spot in the international tourism market, for when it is safe to welcome visitors back to our province. International bookings are often made one year before the date of departure.
- The new Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program will invest $100 million in projects that make life better for locals and improve the experience for visitors. The elements that support the tourism sector include:
- $20 million for tourism infrastructure projects supporting destination development. Local governments, not-for-profits and Indigenous Nations will be able to apply for project funding to help bring back visitors through investments in tourism infrastructure and amenities in communities;
- $20 million to support economic recovery for rural communities; and
- $20 million for investments in unique heritage infrastructure, including funding for First Nations to repair, renew or develop Indigenous cultural heritage infrastructure.
- The Increased Employment Incentive hiring tax credit offers $190 million for employers that hired new people or brought people back who lost their jobs during the last three months of 2020.
- Government is also providing $12 million to support businesses that want to build an online presence, boost their e-commerce operations or increase their digital marketing capacity. In addition, $2 million is available to support restaurants, tourism businesses and other types of businesses to create digital marketing tools.
- A new $15-million fund for Indigenous skills training and education will provide opportunities for up to 1,250 Indigenous peoples whose employment has been impacted by COVID-19. First Nations will be able to access the fund to provide educational programs in their communities, including for tourism skills training.
- In addition, another $20 million is available for short-term skills training for up to 2,800 people to fill in-demand jobs in the community, region or province with a goal of helping them find employment.
- Government is providing a temporary provincial sales tax rebate on select machinery and equipment to make it easier for businesses to make the kinds of investments that will allow them to grow and become more productive.
- Holders of Land Act tenures and Park Act permits, such as eligible outdoor adventure businesses, fishing and hunting lodges, guest ranches, ecotourism lodges, seasonal campgrounds and other commercial recreation operators may qualify to have the annual base rent they pay to the government waived for one year. About $1.36 million has been earmarked for rent forgiveness, which benefits 592 Land Act tenure holders and 443 Park Act permit holders. More details are available online: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020FLNR0052-001781
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 that connects 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 and government is investing $5 million in parks infrastructure in order 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.