The Tourism Industry Association of British Columbia is calling on the government to prevent a “complete collapse” of the visitor economy due to the COVID-19 crisis.
The group says losses to the tourism sector already amount of hundreds of millions of dollars and will soon represent billions “unless senior governments provide some form of financial relief to help businesses survive.”
TIABC says the entire sector is reeling at a time when most tourism providers would be typically gearing up for the busy summer season.
“Hotels throughout BC are experiencing cancellations of up to 80 per cent of business on the books. Massive layoffs will continue this week including part-time, full-time and management level positions,” said Ingrid Jarrett, CEO, BC Hotel Association.
“It’s critically important that we have government support for a recovery plan to ensure that our small and medium size businesses, who are all experiencing extreme hardship, are able to survive.”
TIABC is asking the provincial and federal governments to establish an emergency tourism contingency fund to mitigate the crisis. It also calling for other measures to help businesses, such as temporarily suspending land tenure fees and employer health taxes, as well as providing loan payment relief.
Tourism is worth $19 billion in B.C. and employs 330,000 people.