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:
- In September 2020, the Premier appointed the Tourism Task Force. After receiving their report in December 2020, the Province worked on recommendations right away and made significant progress in implementing them.
- 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.
- The Province has committed more than $228 million in supports for the tourism sector throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Nearly 8,200 tourism businesses received more than $214 million in grant funding through the Small and Medium Size Business Recovery Program.
- The Province has provided $5 million in relief funding through Indigenous Tourism BC for 140 Indigenous tourism businesses. In November 2021, government reinvested an additional $3 million to Indigenous Tourism BC to administer another round of recovery grants for 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.
- 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.
- $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.
- In July 2021, $36.8 million was provided to more than 80 major anchor attractions and tour bus operators through the BC Major Anchor Attractions Program.
- In August 2021, the new Fairs, Festivals and Events Recovery Fund was launched to provide $12.9 million to support local events. Given the enormous need, nearly $30 million was provided to support 680 fairs, festivals and events in 134 communities throughout B.C.
- In January 2022, the Province launched the Tourism Accommodation and Commercial Recreation Relief Fund, which will provide as much as $15 million to help offset fixed costs for eligible large accommodation operators with property taxes, hydro fees for Indigenous-owned accommodation or assistance for tourism businesses operating on Crown land and in BC Parks with tenure and park permit fees.
- Budget 2021 included an additional $20 million for community-based tourism infrastructure in the 2021-22 fiscal year.
- 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.