BY AMAN SINGH
NDP MLA for Richmond Queensborough
WE have a lot of things to look forward to this summer, with B.C.’s Restart plan moving in to Step 3 this week. One of the things that I’m most excited about is more people being able to travel and visit destinations across our province.
We know that the tourism and hospitality sectors have been hit hard by the pandemic. Workers and small business owners have faced lost income and uncertainty as we all stayed home to stay safe.
But now, we can safely get out and support them once again. We can breathe life into tourist attractions and communities who are eager to welcome us back.
As British Columbians, we take care of our neighbours. The COVID-19 pandemic has made this very clear. By supporting tourism and hospitality businesses and workers, we are taking care of a group of British Columbians who always take such good care of us.
Our government is taking action to support the travel industry, so it’s ready and able to welcome visitors from BC and across Canada again. Indigenous tourism businesses in B.C. have received over $28 million for 60 projects such as new outdoor experiences and cultural exhibits. We’re also providing $50 million in support to B.C.’s anchor attractions and tour bus companies. This support will have ripple effects across entire regions.
On June 1, as part of a scheduled increase, we raised B.C.’s minimum wage to $15.20 per hour, and we ended the discriminatory liquor serving wage. This was a lower minimum wage category which disproportionately affected women, putting them at an economic disadvantage. Now, all liquor servers must be paid at least the general minimum wage. This change will make a difference for workers as bars and restaurants gear up for the busy summer months.
After a year of staying close to home, I know many people in the Lower Mainland will be eager to explore more of B.C.’s coast, islands, north and interior. Whether you want the adrenaline rush of sea kayaking or mountain biking, or a relaxing trip through picturesque farms and wineries, there are so many places to explore and new memories to be made.
As in everything we do, respect for others must be at the forefront. Some rural and remote communities may not be ready to welcome visitors quite yet. It’s always a good idea to research the community before you visit.
As an MLA, I’m eager to welcome visitors here to Richmond and the Lower Mainland. Metro Vancouver has world-class attractions and amenities, and our multicultural community gives each neighbourhood its own unique vibe. There is simply no other experience quite like sampling the food at the Richmond Night Market or strolling Vancouver’s seawall in Stanley Park.
The return of tourists will strengthen our communities, bring jobs back to our local economies, and ensure the places we love remain vibrant and welcoming.
This summer I encourage you to check some B.C. destinations off your bucket list and support tourism business and workers – they can’t wait to see you.