Tourism sector: NDP slams BC Liberals for playing politics

WHILE the BC Liberals try to gain political advantage with the challenges facing BC’s tourism sector, tourism businesses and community leaders tell a different story, the NDP pointed out on Tuesday.

Tourism Industry Association CEO Walt Judas on Tuesday wrote to Tourism Minister Lisa Beare: “I wish to express my sincere thanks for your leadership and support of B.C.’s tourism industry,” he wrote. “Thank you for championing the needs of tourism workers, businesses, and communities throughout BC.” (Letter)

On a recent BC Liberal telephone townhall, Osoyoos Mayor Sue McKortoff told BC Liberal MLAs: “I have to give Minister Beare full marks for being part of this. For listening to us, for providing some input and some dollars into this. So I’m probably not the best person to be critical, because, quite frankly, I think we have had some good service from the government.”

The NDP pointed out some of the actions the government has taken to support the tourism sector during the pandemic:

  • Provided $10 million to nearly 60 of BC’s Community Destination Marketing Organizations
  • Advocated for liquidity support for tourism businesses to the federal government and secured $304 million for Western Canada businesses that are not able to access supports through other programs
  • Allowed restaurants to purchase alcohol at whole sale prices, saving up to 25%
  • Extended the temporary layoff provision twice
  • Cut property tax bills for businesses by 25%
  • Allowed businesses to defer taxes, including the PST, until the end of September
  • Small businesses forced to close during the pandemic can have Hydro bills forgiven for three months
  • Provided $600,000 and secured $1 million in federal funds for the BC Tourism Resiliency Network, which has helped over 1000 tourism businesses access COVID-19 supports
  • Secured extension to the Canada Emergency Wage subsidy
  • Advocated for owner-operated businesses to be eligible to the Canada Emergency Business Account
  • Continuing to work with the federal government to ensure BC receives its share of federal tourism supports going forward
  • Re-opened in-province travel earlier than other jurisdictions due to BC’s successful management of the pandemic

“The BC NDP government will continue working closely with the federal government, tourism operators, and communities as we move towards recovery for the tourism sector,” the NDP said.