Funding Support for Anchor Attractions, Tour Bus Companies

(Photo from PNE.ca)

More than 80 anchor attractions and tour bus operators in B.C. will receive direct support for their recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Today is an exciting day for our major anchor attractions that, because of the restrictions that have been in place throughout the pandemic, made sacrifices to keep us all safe," said Melanie Mark, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. "The sector called on government to provide grants, not loans, and we worked with tourism sector leaders to make sure these vital businesses and non-profits can continue to employ residents and draw visitors to attractions throughout B.C."

B.C.'s anchor attractions play an important role in B.C.'s economy by drawing visitors to communities and supporting local small businesses throughout the province. Tour bus companies are a key link to bring travellers to many of the regional destinations, attractions and experiences.

The Major Anchor Attractions Program, first announced in May 2021, was one of the seven calls to action from the Tourism Task Force. Grants of up to $1 million will be provided to both businesses and not-for-profits, including:

* 23 urban anchor attractions;

* 34 rural anchor attractions; and

* 26 tour bus operators.

Recipients include Butchart Gardens, International Dragon Boat Festival, the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE), Sea to Sky Gondola, Science World, Richmond Night Market, HR MacMillan Space Centre, Big White Ski Resort, Britannia Mine Museum, Hells Gate Airtram and Wilson's Transportation.

Organizations can use the grants to pay for rent and utilities, payroll and costs related to restarting or ramping up operations and other business expenses that will help them recover from the impacts of the pandemic. For example, Richmond Night Market will use its $1-million grant to help it maintain its role as a significant attraction in the City of Richmond.

"We are so thankful that the government listened and provided support," said Raymond Cheung, owner and event organizer, Richmond Night Market. "This grant comes at exactly the right time. We have just reopened today, and having this funding will help us reopen safely and make sure we can continue to provide a great summer experience for years to come."

Since the start of the pandemic, the B.C. government has worked with industry to provide relief and support. In addition to the Major Anchors Attraction Program, the Province has provided the following:

* A $100-million tourism-specific stream under the Small and Medium Size Business Recovery Grant program.

* $5 million was allocated in dedicated relief funding delivered by Indigenous Tourism BC for Indigenous tourism businesses.

* $53 million has been invested in community-based tourism infrastructure and destination development to help tourism in B.C. recover, create jobs and spur economic development.

* The Province partnered with go2HR to design a COVID-19 safety certificate course for the tourism and hospitality workforce.

* Budget 2021 includes an additional $50 million in to support tourism recovery and $20 million for community-based tourism infrastructure.