'A far cry from what is needed': B.C. tourism businesses react to new funding
VANCOUVER -- B.C.’s tourism industry has been asking for a $680 million government funding package to save struggling businesses. Instead, the province is pledging $100 million.
“Of course all of tourism recognizes the challenges government has, but it’s a far cry from what is needed in order to help the businesses that depend upon the summer to survive,” said Ian MacPhee with Prince of Whales, a whale watching company that operates in both Vancouver and Victoria. It struggled to attract 20 per cent of its usual customer numbers this summer.
“If the businesses that didn’t have enough success in the summer can’t survive the winter, and many many of them are not going to, what do we have in order to offer the tourist to come back next year?” said MacPhee.
The Tourism Association of B.C. agrees. “If we are going to bring tourism back, if we’re going to generate the kind of revenues we have in years past, we have to have those businesses around,” said president Walt Judas.
The new CEO of Science World is more concerned about how and when the money will be distributed. Half of the $100 million will be doled out by a new tourism task force
“Government has its way of operating, but in a situation like this what we need is urgency,” said Tracy Redies.
With Science World only getting 12 per cent of its usual customer numbers, the attraction may need to close without an urgent influx of government cash. “Having to wait even a couple of months is not going to be sustainable, and that’s not my big concern with our organization,” said Redies.
“I think the task force will begin it’s work fairly immediately, and our goal is to have a process that puts the funds into the hands of the operators that desperately need it,” said Judas.
The premier is hinting there could be more money for tourism in next year's budget, something Prince of Whales is counting on.
“If this is truly just the beginning, great, let’s get it started, let’s see what it is. But it can’t be the end,” said MacPhee. “Tourism is too important to this province, and the operators in this province need more help to survive.”