BC announces $50 million for provincial tourism industry

May 18 2021, 12:22 pm

In what it has dubbed the BC Major Anchor Attractions Program, the provincial government announced $50 million in funding today to help major tourism attractions and operators that have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“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 BC Premier John Horgan.

The province said anchor attractions and tour bus companies face high fixed costs because of their infrastructure and minimum staffing requirements.

As such, with funding announced in Budget 2021, the $50 million BC Major Anchor Attractions Program may offer up to $1 million per attraction through one-time grants.

Eligible expenses include payroll, rent and utility costs related to restarting or ramping up operations in preparation for gradual reopening in alignment with provincial health orders. The funding is available for not-for-profit organizations and businesses.

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.

Within Metro Vancouver, under the “major anchor attractions in urban centres” category, this potentially includes Science World, Vancouver Aquarium, Museum of Vancouver, UBC Museum of Anthropology, and PNE/Playland.

But the request for provincial funding last month from the PNE/Playland alone is $8 million, covering its current debt to date as a direct result of the pandemic. The city-owned non-profit organization’s debt is expected to rise to $15 million by the end of 2021.

The application window for the grant will be open until June 7 with funds provided in July 2021.

“The pandemic has illuminated on 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.”

DH Vancouver StaffDH Vancouver Staff

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