On September 18th, the BC Government appointed 11 business and industry leaders, including to a Tourism Task Force, focused on identifying actions to help support BC’s tourism businesses and workers impacted by the global COVID-19 pandemic and put the sector on a path to sustainable recovery and growth.
Government has allocated $50 million to implement actions that arise from the task force’s final report, due on December 31st. Recommendations will focus on strategies and actions to help address short-term challenges through the 2021 tourism season, while also considering what changes could be made to enhance British Columbia’s long-term competitiveness.
Tourism Task Force members met regularly in October to gather information to help inform their deliberations. This included assessing BC’s competitive position prior to COVID-19 and reviewing estimates of the pandemic’s impact on the sector over the short term. In 2018, British Columbia’s tourism sector was outpacing growth in the provincial economy, with increasing revenues, employment, wages and number of visitors. As we all know, BC’s visitor economy has been hit hard by the pandemic, and Destination BC estimated in May 2020 that the province’s $21.5 billion annual tourism industry could see a reduction down to $6.7 billion in 2020.
The Task Force also sought to gain an understanding of how countries and regions have approached their support of tourism. Jurisdictions around the world have taken varying approaches to dealing with the fallout of the pandemic on their visitor economies, with different strategies for helping the many businesses and workers who rely on it for their livelihoods. Members also analyzed existing research and information compiled from industry groups and sector associations throughout the pandemic, to identify any gaps that remain in supports provided to date by the BC and Canadian governments.
The Tourism Task Force will now focus on engaging with select stakeholders that broadly represent key sectors of the industry in a series of focused roundtable discussions through November. Task Force members recognize how deeply the tourism sector has been impacted and the urgent need for support, and that is why the Task Force will prioritize roundtable discussions on topics where they have specifically identified a need for further information. Task Force members, including Interim President and CEO Richard Porges, are committed to keeping industry informed as their work progresses towards the final report in December.
Learn more about the Tourism Task Force: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020TAC0050-001806
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