September 18, 2020
Industry Looking Forward to Working With Government to Help Businesses Survive
VANCOUVER, BC (September 17, 2020): Leaders of the largest associations representing tourism, hospitality, and accommodation say that the Province’s new recovery initiatives give hope for businesses to survive the pandemic. The collective is keen to work with government immediately to put money into the hands of tourism operators to protect jobs and keep businesses from closing permanently in the coming months as the industry continues to struggle from the impacts COVID-19.
In July, more than 40 sector associations signed off on a submission to government requesting $680 million in recovery funds to ensure the visitor economy survives until such time travel, border and other damaging restrictions are lifted and consumer confidence returns.
Since early spring, TIABC, ABLE BC, the BC Hotel Association, Restaurants Canada, the Metro Vancouver Tourism and Hospitality Response and Recovery Task Force, the Greater Victoria Tourism Rescue and Recovery Task Force, and the Adventure Tourism Coalition, among others, have been calling on the Province to provide recovery funds in the form of working capital grants or low interest/no interest loans to help businesses address liquidity.
The $21.5 billion tourism and hospitality sector was effectively shut down when borders closed and both residents and visitors were told to stay home as the pandemic unfolded in British Columbia. Since mid-March, thousands of hotels, restaurants, pubs, bars, attractions, adventure tourism operators, retailers, transportation providers and other sectors of the visitor economy have either been closed or only partially re-opened, and many businesses are expected to wind down again or shutter for good without government help.
While the Province’s recovery package stops short of the industry’s request, grants and loans for tourism businesses to address fixed cost expenses, tourism marketing opportunities for regions, and community infrastructure investment for tourism projects will provide much-needed relief in the short-term.
Walt Judas, CEO, Tourism Industry Association of British Columbia (TIABC)
“It’s a very good start. We appreciate that the Province recognized the needs of the tourism and hospitality sector with specific measures to help address major challenges including liquidity. We are keen to work with Minister Beare and government immediately to put funds into the hands of operators who are desperately trying to keep their doors open. We are also counting on additional support and funding from senior levels of government as part of Budget 2021.”
Ingrid Jarrett, President & CEO, British Columbia Hotel Association (BCHA)
“We are pleased to see that the tourism and hospitality sector has been recognized in the provincial government’s announcement surrounding economic relief. As we acknowledge Premier Horgan’s pledge that this is merely a first step toward long-term recovery, we look forward to working with government to ensure the survival and growth of our industry. Through this work, we will continue to champion the needs of accommodators across our province.”
Mark von Schellwitz, Vice President, Western Canada, Restaurants Canada
“Restaurants Canada appreciates everything that the Province has done to step up and provide a lifeline to foodservice businesses struggling to survive the past six months of the pandemic. Given the rising level of debt restaurateurs are accumulating as a result of COVID-19 restrictions, the new small and medium sized business recovery grant announced today will certainly help many of them continue to keep their doors open. But looking ahead they are going to need further support to pull through the ongoing crisis beyond what was announced today.”
Jeff Guignard, Executive Director, BC’s Alliance of Beverage Licensees (ABLE BC)
“Today’s long-anticipated announcement of grants for small businesses is a good start to help stem the bleeding in BC’s hospitality industry. But let’s be clear: our industry is going to need significant long-term support if we’re going to survive this ongoing crisis. We look forward to working with government in the days ahead on how to get money out the door as quickly as possible to those who need it most.”
Nancy Small, CEO, Tourism Richmond and co-Chair, Metro Vancouver Tourism & Hospitality Industry Response & Recovery Task Force
“We are pleased our provincial government recognizes the crisis in British Columbia’s visitor economy, in the recently announced economic recovery plan. This is especially important in our region, where tourism contributes $14.4 billion to the Metro Vancouver economy annually and supports 105,000 full-time employees. Let’s get to work and execute these programs so businesses in our industry that need the support now receive it.”
Paul Nursey, CEO, Destination Greater Victoria & Greater Victoria Tourism Rescue and Recovery Task Force
“We’re pleased to see the tourism sector specifically recognized today. While it was not the package we asked for, it is clear the provincial government understands the challenging situation that we face and crafted some tourism specific solutions for which we are grateful. The devil will be in details such as the size of businesses that qualify for various grants and don’t fall through the cracks. Ease of the application processes and speed will be critical. What is clear is that additional medium to long-term supports will be required from all levels of government to position the industry for relaunch. We look forward to working with government to implement these measures, continue to work on the fine details, and prepare for additional support ahead of Budget 2021.”
Brad Harrison, Chair, Adventure Tourism Coalition
“With the announcement of the economic recovery package that includes benefits for members of the adventure tourism sector, the Adventure Tourism Coalition would like to thank the BC Government for its recognition of the important role our industry plays in the socio-economic well-being of British Columbia, particularly our rural areas. The COVID-19 crisis has hit our sector extremely hard. We look forward to continued government collaboration and support to ensure adventure tourism’s future in BC.”