Prince Rupert tourism efforts are going to benefit from a portion of $10 million in grants from the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MTAC), the provincial ministry announced to mark Tourism Week, which runs from May 24 to 31.
Despite the deep and sudden impacts of COVID-19 on the tourism sector, B.C.’s leaders were quick to put the greater good of communities above anything else, Lisa Beare, minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture said in a statement on May 25.
“To help the industry be ready for recovery, we’re providing $10 million in grants to 59 community destination marketing organizations to support their efforts to show British Columbians the amazing travel opportunities available right here at home,” Beare said.
With social distancing etiquette, travel restrictions and stay-at-home advisories, Prince Rupert’s tourism economy has been hard hit since COVID-19.
Tourism Prince Rupert Executive Director, Ceilidh Marlow said Tourism Prince Rupert, which also encompasses Port Edward, is a tourism destination marketing organization which is funded partially through the Municipal and Regional District Tax.
The MRDT is charged in designated accommodation areas, of up to three per cent, on the cost of taxable accommodation such as hotels, motels, resorts, bed and breakfasts, houses, cottages, cabins and other short-term lodging in B.C.
“Funding for tourism comes from the providers, so it is not a burden on the community,” Marlow said, with recent times being very difficult for Prince Rupert due to no visitors arriving.
Marlow said even before COVID-19, there were plans for a very “robust” local and regional marketing campaign which would support the tourism dependent businesses in Prince Rupert.
According to the Destination BC website, 74 per cent of all visitors to B.C. in 2019 were Canadians. These domestic visitors contributed 49 per cent of all tourism revenues in the province. Most tourism businesses buy goods, hire locally and retain their profits locally.
Despite the visitor numbers appearing high, B.C. residents spent an estimated $6.7 billion on international travel in 2018, excluding day trips to the U.S.A. By comparison, international travellers spent $6.9 billion in B.C. for the same year.
“Redirecting what we spend abroad toward the tourism sector in B.C. can be a strong first step towards recovery that will create jobs, support local economies and allow the sector to get back to being one of our province’s biggest economic drivers,” Beare said.
According to Beare, Destination BC is also working hard to help the tourism sector recover through its three-phased marketing recovery plan: Response, Recovery and Resilience. Its #explorebclocal campaign invites people to explore local experiences and visit businesses close to home.
“We’re already seeing a groundswell of support from British Columbians to support local businesses – from choosing to shop main street via storefront pickup, to ordering made-in-B.C. products online, to cooking more at home using local ingredients.”
“As minister responsible for tourism, I know that every corner of B.C. has incredible places to enjoy and explore – and that it’s the people who work in the tourism and hospitality industry who make travel experiences so special,” Beare said.
K-J Millar | Journalist
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