Greater Victoria Tourism Task Force makes ‘critical’ requests to gov’t to help struggling industry

Greater Victoria Tourism Task Force makes 'critical' requests to gov't to help struggling industry
Tourism Victoria
A Greater Victoria tourism Task Force has presented a list of recovery requests to the federal government in an effort to help amid COVID-19.

A task force, made up of leaders in the Greater Victoria tourism industry, has presented a list of recovery requests to the federal government in an effort to help the industry cope during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Greater Victoria Tourism Rescue and Recovery Task Force (Task Force) has outlined five specific recovery priorities that they said are “critical to support tourism businesses immediately and going forward.”

The government requests include:

  • Extending the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) well into 2021.
  • Extending the 16-week period before severance is required for staff on temporary layoff, as well as flexibility on group lay-off provisions for tourism’s highly seasonal workforce.
  • Interest-free loans, grants, subsidies, or similar financial supports.
  • Support for COVID-19 physical distancing measures.
  • Redirect Destination Canada and Destination BC marketing funds from traditional international source markets to domestic source markets at the community level for the short-term upon approved restart.

“Tourism and hospitality are amongst the hardest hit economic sectors during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Paul Nursey, CEO of Destination Greater Victoria. “In Greater Victoria, it is expected visitor spending will decline by up to $1.4 billion over the next ten to 14 months. This affects the ability of countless businesses to operate and creates uncertainty for thousands of workers employed in the industry.”

The Task Force is compiled of tourism industry experts from a variety of sectors around Greater Victoria, including hotels, transportation, attractions and marketing organizations. In a press release, the Task Force suggests the five priorities were a collaborative effort from all corners of Greater Victoria tourism and will be adapted as the COVID-19 landscape evolves over the next 18 months.

“Our goal was to create concrete, workable solutions for government decision-makers” said John Wilson, President and CEO of The Wilson’s Group of Companies. “We want to put the tourism industry back on a stable footing and contribute once again to the Greater Victoria community. Time is of the essence. If we do not act soon there will be permanent job losses and dire consequences for many small and medium-sized businesses in our region.”

According to a press release issued by the Task Force, the Greater Victoria tourism industry created $2.3 billion in economic impact and employed more than 22,000 people, prior to the pandemic. In addition, the coalition of industry experts claims two in five workers in Greater Victoria are directly or indirectly employed in tourism, while the industry employs significant numbers of young adults and people with disabilities.

“Loss of travellers from key source markets due to necessary health and safety considerations for COVID-19 has greatly reduced visitation to Greater Victoria,” reads a statement.

The industry has experienced several significant blows during what is typically a busy time of year. These major hits include Transport Canada banning all vessels carrying 500 or more passengers until at least July 1 and the border between Canada and the USA being closed to non-essential travel.

Graham CoxGraham Cox

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