VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) -The tourism industry has taken a big hit in B.C. with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but the scope of that impact maybe even bigger than expected.
Due to cancelled flights, travel bans, and a general unease about leaving the house, both the provincial and federal governments have been communicating with the Tourism Industry Association of B.C.
An industry that brings in close to $20 billion a year is hurting right now, and TIABC CEO Walt Judas is trying to manage it all.
“We need some kind of help from both senior levels of government. Businesses will begin to fold in the very near future. Already there are massive layoffs throughout the province within our industry,” he says. “If we don’t see some kind of financial assistance, we won’t have much of a tourism industry.”
Losses have amounted to hundreds of millions of dollars already, and Judas fears it could only get worse.
“This represents millions in revenue to tourism operators around the province, but even at this point, it’s too early to ascertain the extent of those losses.”
There are layers to the contingency fund that the TIABC is requesting from the government, but there isn’t a set number in mind.
The Association is calling for the temporary suspending of land tenure fees, along with employer health taxes, along with providing relief for loan payments.
“We’ve gone from being a very robust sector to a sector that is desperate.” Judas told NEWS 1130.
B.C’s tourism industry relies on more than 19 thousand small businesses to bring in those dollars – those businesses employ upwards of three hundred thousand people.
Recommendations have been made to the federal government that include waiving the seven day waiting period to collect employment insurance for those who have been temporarily laid off due to COVID-19.
The TIABC CEO knows the sector is a resilient one, but like everything else, there are plenty of questions that remain.
“We have had setbacks in years previous. Once things return to a more normalized state, there is pent up desire to travel. We’ll see that business eventually coming back, but to the extent that we’ve had in recent years is anybody’s guess. That could take years.”