A provincial recovery stimulus package has been proposed to help the tourism industry

Hillary Johnson

A coalition representing British Columbia's more than 19-thousand tourism and hospitality businesses has presented the provincial government with a recovery stimulus proposal. Which would see the government allocate 680 million from its 1.5 billion dollar recovery package as an initial investment to help mitigate the unprecedented impacts of COVID-19 on the BC tourism economy and its workforce. CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of BC, Walt Judas, says there are three components to the stimulus package.

"The package is meant to ensure that the tourism business remains solid; that they can address the liquidity concerns they have to meet their monthly fixed costs. The first component is to address liquidity in the range of about 475 million. The second component looks at adaptation costs for businesses to respond to new health and safety protocols, and then the third component is looking at more localized supply chains."

Many tourism-based activities in the Northwest rely on the international traveller, and with restrictions on border crossings, Kermode Tourism Executive Director Liz Smaha thinks we might be in for a lengthy recovery with long term effects within the industry.

"Say there is 50 percent that are under reduced operations, right now there is approximate, 12 percent of the businesses that are operating as usual, and even 29 percent we have around the North temporarily closed, the impact has been hitting straight across the board very hard."

Judas says both urban and rural tourism businesses have been impacted equally.

"Many rural businesses rely virtually 100 percent on international travellers, and they are seasonal businesses no less. So there is about a six-month window where they are earning all of their revenues to sustain them for the rest of the year, but without that international travel, many of those businesses didn't even open, or if they did, they were barely keeping the doors open with what little business they could sustain with BC residents."

He emphasized their desire for the government to apply these funds as an investment and not a bailout as it has the potential for long term betterment of communities throughout the province.

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