More support is on the way for B.C.’s embattled tourism industry.
On Thursday (Feb. 10), the province committed $9.3 million to fund business events and encourage the hiring of new employees in the tourism sector. Funding will be doled out over the next two years as part of the province’s Tourism Initiatives Action Plan.
In a news release, the province said their focus would be on reinvigorating the business events and conferences sector. Up to $5 million will prop up the sector through the Business Events and Conferences Restart Fund this fiscal year, with an additional $3 million next year to help restart business travel.
The support is desperately needed as the business events market is reporting 85 to 100 per cent losses in revenue since the beginning of the pandemic.
Funding will be provided to city destination management organizations with significant involvement in attracting and hosting business events, conferences and exhibitions prior to COVID-19.
Eligible organizations will be invited to submit proposals to access this funding.
But to successfully restart conferences and events, the industry will need employees to pull it off. The province says $1.3 million will fund dedicated human resources specialists in five tourism regions for two years.
“In partnership with the tourism industry’s human resources association, go2HR, these individuals will provide expert advice to tourism operators in each region, including workforce strategy, recruitment, onboarding, compensation, training, health and safety, and interpreting employment legislation,” the province said.
The company will begin recruiting on Vancouver Island and in the Thompson Okanagan, Northern BC, Cariboo Chilcotin Coast and Kootenay Rockies tourism regions.
Since the start of the pandemic, the B.C. government has invested more than $570 million in supports for the tourism sector, including the Small and Medium Size Business Grant and Circuit Breaker grant, providing funding to nearly 8,200 tourism and hospitality businesses.
The province said more support for marquee events, as well as tourism education and skills training will be announced soon.