COVID-19 has taken a toll on British Columbia’s tourism sector, and the provincial government is taking steps to help it recover.

In total, 59 community destination marketing organizations (DMOs) severely impacted by COVID-19 travel restrictions will be receiving a $10-million grant from the province.

DMOs are not-for-profit organizations that promote tourism to their regions and rely on funds generated by the municipal and regional district tax (MRDT), which is charged to visitors by hotels and other types of accommodation.

Without this relief funding, the province says community DMOs would be unable to operate and support economic recovery efforts in the tourism sector.

Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Lisa Beare, says this money will greatly benefit a sector that is hurting right now.

“The tourism sector has been largely impacted by COVID and so the DMO’s play such an important role in connecting visitors to our B.C. communities that we wanted to provide the funding to ensure that they were able to stay afloat,” says Beare.

“(We want to make sure) that they’re able to keep their doors open, keep staff and really start doing the important work that needs to be done in encouraging visitors across our province to explore B.C.”

Beare also says as we move into lighter restrictions throughout the province, promoting ‘stay-cations’ plays a key role in helping keep tourism-related businesses afloat.

“We are encouraging visitors as much as possible to explore their own backyards and stay close to home, and really experience what their community has to offer. It’s a great opportunity to highlight everything that we have to offer here in B.C.”

“B.C residents may not have actually got on a whale-watching boat, or gone and seen a grizzly bear during a grizzly tour. These are iconic opportunities that people travel all over the globe to come to participate here in B.C and so it’s really a time for us to take a step back and do that ourselves and really enjoy all that our backyard has to offer,” added Beare.

The funding will help MRDT-supported community DMOs retain crucial staff positions and offset fixed expenses from May to October 2020.

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