LETTER: Tourism and hospitality need government support

Tourism and hospitality has for decades been the face of British Columbia and Canada around the world, contributing more than $4.5-billion in taxes annually to all levels of government.

The industry has also been a strategic catalyst in helping to attract investment and talent to our province while also contributing to a vibrant economy and a high quality of life. If tourism and hospitality businesses fail, the consequences will be broadly seen and felt.

The COVID-19 health pandemic is the perfect storm in communities all across B.C.

Most working residents of Parksville Qualicum Beach either directly or indirectly depend upon tourism for their livelihoods. Despite evidence of recent increases in visits this month, weekly overnight visitation to Vancouver Island since mid-March was down an average of 58% (BC Tourism Regional Tourism Secretariat / Environics Analytics research).

Local businesses are experiencing high health protocol related expenses and staff shortages that further limit capacity to generate revenue.

Additional pressures of the looming Aug. 31 deadline for temporary layoffs, along with phasing out the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy by year’s end, and the economic curve for the tourism sector is falling off a cliff. Leisure travel traditionally dissipates in the fall making groups and conferences important revenue generators through spring.

However, capacity and distancing protocols make groups and conferences business impossible in 2020-21.

Without government investment and support, there will be no recovery for our tourism sector. There will be massive job losses and business closures before the end of the year and through 2021. The impacts will be felt both here at home and across the province.

As part of its revenue objectives for 2020, the Province of British Columbia targeted a six per cent increase in tourism-related receipts from the Provincial Sales Tax and Municipal Regional District Tax (the accommodation and lodging tax).

This demonstrates that government is eager to realize the tax revenues of the visitor economy, but the question remains, will they stand with the industry that they’ve relied on for decades in its desperate hour of need?

The answer must be yes.

Our message is simple: employers and their employees need help now. The Tourism Industry Association of British Columbia (TIABC) has asked the Province for a $680- million recovery package. This is a fraction of what our businesses have contributed over many decades.

Without financial investment and support this year, many Parksville Qualicum Beach tourism and hospitality businesses will not make it to 2021.

With targeted investment to help our tourism operators get through the winter and into next spring, our visitor economy and important jobs will ultimately rebound and we will be a net contributor to our communities and province once again.

Parksville Qualicum Beach Tourism Association

Parksville and Qualicum Beach Chambers of Commerce

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