AS B.C.’s tourism industry faces another potential year of lost business, BC Liberal Critic for Tourism, Arts, and Culture Teresa Wat is asking Premier John Horgan why his government stubbornly refuses to fix an inadequate support program that won’t actually help B.C.’s tourism businesses.
“The Premier seems to believe that his failed Small and Medium-Sized Business Recovery Grant is enough to support our tourism industry, but this approach simply isn’t working,” said Wat. “Under the current eligibility requirements, many of our province’s museums, non-profit attractions, and exhibitions like the Richmond Night Market and PNE don’t even qualify for the grant. Of those that do, only a fraction have seen any money from the government since the funding was approved more than 11 months ago.”
The latest B.C.-wide COVID-19 Tourism Impact Report revealed that only two per cent of tourism businesses have been able to access the Small and Medium-Sized Business Recovery Grant as of December 2020 that is set to expire at the end of March 2021.
With the recent federal announcement that cruise lines will not be allowed to operate in B.C. until 2022, and transportation companies halting vital routes to some of B.C.’s tourism towns, and under the growing burden of additional taxes and red tape, thousands of tourism operators say they will not last the year without additional support. The BC Hotel Association in particular notes a shocking 46 per cent of properties will not be able to stay in business if they do not receive support between now and the end of March.
“Tourism operators have made it clear that the current supports aren’t working for them, yet John Horgan has been missing in action on almost every request they have made to government,” said Wat. “The Premier needs to admit that his plan isn’t working, listen to tourism operators, and completely overhaul the grant program so that government can get these vital funds into the hands of the businesses that need it the most.”