VICTORIA (June 26, 2020) – Despite desperate calls for greater financial supports amid increasing concern from tourism operators that travel reopening under Phase 3 will not generate enough business to ward off an industry-wide collapse, John Horgan’s Minister of Tourism, Lisa Beare, still does not have a plan to support the industry’s economic recovery.
“B.C.’s tourism industry is driven by international and out-of-province tourists and with tourism officials bracing for a 70 per cent decline in annual revenue, it’s difficult to see how local and regional tourists will fill that gap,” said BC Liberal Co-Critic for Tourism, Arts and Culture Michelle Stilwell. “There is no guarantee that British Columbians have the confidence to resume travelling this summer and with over 500,000 more residents unemployed due to the pandemic, many do not have the money to do so. The NDP government needs to step up with supports for this sector now.”
Although Phase 3 relaxes travel restrictions for British Columbians here in the province, it is not enough to save most struggling tourism businesses. When asked this week about potential incentives to increase travel within the province, clarification about visitors from other Canadian jurisdictions, and future supports for the tourism industry that could come out of the government’s $1.5 billion COVID-19 relief funding, all that Minister Beare could offer was the vague assurance that “more consultations are on the way.”
“With over 130,000 tourism industry employees currently out of work, where is the NDP’s recovery plan to help them survive? Local and regional tourism is not enough to sustain these businesses. Action is needed now to stave off bankruptcies, permanent closures, and more unemployment,” added BC Liberal Co-Critic for Tourism, Arts and Culture Doug Clovechok. “We have been hosting numerous town halls and have provided several common-sense solutions to the NDP for months now, and yet there has been no progress on this file. Businesses cannot wait any longer for this government to step up.”
Stalling is not a solution. What is desperately needed is leadership on this file.