Through Destination BC, Western Economic Diversification Canada is assisting tourism businesses and community tourism organisations in British Columbia mitigate the ongoing impacts of COVID-19. Administered and managed by Destination BC, a total of $6.7 million in financial support has funded a Community Adaptation Funding Program and Fixed Cost Support Program, and a Digital Transformation Project and Portal.
Up to $6.2 million is helping Community Destination Marketing Organisations (CDMOs) to adapt their business models and cover some fixed costs. Under the Community Adaptation Fund Program (CAF), $1.2 million (plus an additional $400,000 from Destination BC) has been distributed to 87 CDMOs and community tourism organisations to tailor services and programs for their local visitor economy in support of COVID-19 recovery efforts. CDMOs play an important role in connecting visitors to communities across BC, driving overnight visitation and supporting community-based tourism businesses. Eligible activities under the application-based CAF Program include strategic and crisis planning, research, market and product development activities, and marketing activities which are aligned with Provincial Health Orders and travel restrictions. The remaining $5 million has been distributed to 60 CDMOs in BC that collect Municipal and Regional District Tax (MRDT) to help with fixed costs including rent, insurance, and wages not already covered by other federal programs.
Up to $300,000 in funding helped to establish Destination BC’s Tourism Digital Academy, which continues to provide industry access to this popular Digital Transformation Project. The free intermediate level 8-week digital training program is focused on preparing tourism business owners and their marketing team members to compete in the digital space, and grow their business when travel restrictions are eased. Delivered online, the expert-led sessions cover key digital marketing and technology subject areas to help program participants build a personalized online marketing plan and remain competitive. The funding also supported the development of a self-guided version of the program, and other digital readiness resources offered through Destination BC’s Learning Centre. To date, over 250 participants have completed the in-class and self-guided program. New intakes for the in-class program are scheduled to begin in October, with enrolment opening in August 2021.
Up to $200,000 directly benefitted a digital Industry Portal for tourism businesses, with features that were developed to support tourism business owners and operators with timely COVID-19 messaging and guidance to create safety plans, offer support by listing their businesses’ COVID-19 protocols online, and help promote any special offers to BC residents in line with provincial travel restrictions.
Honourable Mélanie Joly, Federal Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada
“British Columbia’s tourism sector plays a vital role in the economic health of both the province and Canada as a whole. That is why our Government is dedicated to providing the resources necessary to help tourism businesses from every corner of the region bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic. The support services provided by Destination BC will ensure that jobs are protected and nurtured, critical new skills are developed, and tourism owners and workers are ready to welcome back visitors when the time comes.”
Honourable Melanie Mark, Provincial Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture & Sport
“When you support communities, you support the people and the small family businesses that make up the foundation of our provincial economy. Destination BC’s partnership with Western Economic Diversification will help protect jobs in all corners of British Columbia, from rural communities to urban centres, and will further support tourism industry workers through more access to training in digital marketing. By supporting these businesses now, we will be ready to welcome visitors once travel fully resumes.”
Richard Porges, Interim President & CEO, Destination BC
“Destination BC is focused on supporting tourism businesses, both directly and through our community partners, on our industry’s road to recovery. This federal funding is pivotal in helping community tourism organisations and businesses adapt operations and strategies to support community and economic recovery efforts, and plan for the future. Our Tourism Digital Academy equips tourism business workers with the digital skills and knowledge to improve their marketing and online strategies. The digital portal for BC tourism businesses helps them with the timely communication of safety practices, to reassure potential travellers.”
Gladys Atrill, Executive Director, Tourism Smithers
“The Western Economic Diversification funding is a welcome boost to the Smithers community. CDMOs like Tourism Smithers have a direct role in driving overnight visitation and supporting community tourism businesses as they reopen, shift operations, and recover from the pandemic. The structure of the CAF Program provides an opportunity for us to tailor the funding to provide the best opportunities for our local businesses and economy.”
Quick Facts about BC’s Tourism Industry in 2019 (pre-pandemic)
Learn more in the 2019 Value of Tourism Snapshot
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