Tuesday's announcement of a $50 million fund for BC's tourism sector is welcome news, but might be too little too late.
"On the one hand, The Chamber has been working with our community partners to get government relief for the hard-hit tourism sector," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams says. "However, what's still missing is a plan. As we've been saying for some time, businesses need time operationally to ramp up. We still have no direction from the province about how and when restrictions will be lifted."
The $50 million fund will offer up to $1 million in grants to major attractions. Applications are open until June 7, with funds delivered by July. The province says eligible expenses include payroll, rent and utilities related to restarting or ramping up operations in preparation for gradual reopening in alignment with provincial health orders. The funding is available for not-for-profit organizations and businesses.
“For large attractions entering a second year of a 90% reduction in revenue, we appreciate this funding gesture as it will help contribute toward some fixed costs like insurance or property tax,” Butchart Gardens CEO Dave Cowen said in the province's news release.
The funds are also available for tour bus companies, who, along with accommodation providers, are desperately waiting for information they can pass on to agencies and tour operators who are already booking trips into next year.
“We are in the midst of the largest (tour operator) trade show in Canada right now, Rendez-vous Canada, and we’re talking with people from all over the world (who want to book in 2022) and we have nothing to tell them,” Wilson's Group of Companies CEO John Wilson told the Times Colonist.