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B.C.-wide program aims to support anchor tourism organizations

The province is offering financial relief to anchor tourism attractions and bus companies, to help them weather the pandemic.

They can apply for funding through B.C.’s new $50 million Major Anchor Attractions Program.

Examples of criteria and eligible organizations include:

  • major anchor attractions in urban centres that receive 75,000 or more visitors per year – eligible for up to $1 million.
  • major anchor attractions in rural areas that receive 15,000 or more visitors per year – eligible for up to $500,000. 
  • tour bus companies that serve 30,000 or more passengers per year – eligible for up to $500,000.

Examples of “turnstile” attractions eligible for the program include amusement parks, wildlife parks, botanical gardens, heritage institutions, museums, galleries and science centres.

“Everyone in B.C. has fond memories of visiting or working at our province’s many major anchor attractions. Many communities depend on tourism landmarks to boost the local economy, bring visitors to town and provide many young people with their first jobs,” said Premier John Horgan. ]

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“We are helping these important businesses survive today so they are ready for a strong recovery, and future generations can enjoy these iconic institutions for years to come.”

B.C. is not through the pandemic yet, but the province says the number of cases is going down and more than 50% of eligible British Columbians have received the vaccine.

“The pandemic has illuminated how important anchor attractions and tour bus companies are to our communities and our tourism ecosystem,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. 

“Our government is responding to a call to action from the Tourism Task Force, which identified the need to fill in the gaps and support these important job creators across our province. We’re taking strong action to ensure they can continue to draw people to B.C., continue enriching our local experiences and keep people employed.”

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Anchor attractions and tour bus companies face high fixed costs because of their infrastructure and minimum staffing requirements. 

Eligible expenses include payroll, rent and utility costs related to restarting or ramping up operations ahead of a gradual reopening. 

The funding is available for not-for-profit organizations and businesses.

“For large attractions entering a second year of a 90 percent reduction in revenue, we appreciate this funding gesture as it will help contribute toward some fixed costs like insurance or property tax,” said David Cowan, CEO, Butchart Gardens, and Nancy Stibbard, CEO and owner, Capilano Suspension Bridge Park.

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The application window will be open until June 7th with funds provided in July.

“We’ve been a place of learning and exploration for visitors, local residents and school groups for over 53 years. Understandably, the ongoing health and safety restrictions have made keeping our organization’s move toward recovery incredibly challenging,” said Jonathan Burke, board chair, H.R. MacMillan Space Centre Society. “We’re doing all we can to keep our doors open, and the funding from the Province’s Major Anchor Attractions program will help us pay expenses until we can get back to running at full capacity.”

You can find more details and an application link here.

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