A task force of tourism and hospitality leaders has crafted an 18-month recovery and survival strategy for the Greater Victoria tourism industry, which has suffered massive losses during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Tourism task force creates 18-month survival strategy for Greater Victoria

Industry suffering massive losses during COVID-19 pandemic

Empty harbours, boarded-up shop windows and desolate landmarks paint an ominous picture of tourism in Greater Victoria, but a group of business leaders has been busy creating a long-term survival plan for one of the region’s most vital industries.

In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, a ‘task force’ of industry leaders has released rescue and recovery priorities for Greater Victoria tourism.

The task force is comprised of 12 managers, owners and CEOs of the city’s biggest hotels and tourist attractions, including Dave Cowen, CEO of Butchart Gardens; Paul Nursey, CEO of Destination Greater Victoria; Brenda Ollis, general manager of Chateau Victoria Hotel and Randy Wright, president of Harbour Air.

READ ALSO: Economic impact of COVID-19 on Victoria’s tourism industry will be ‘devastating,’ experts say

While the group collectively has 400 years of experience in tourism and hospitality, it’s the first pandemic facing the region, curtailing tourism completely and threatening the short and long-term survival of all kinds of businesses and jobs.

In a document outlining their first phase of priorities, the task force estimates that 90 per cent of the full-time tourism workforce has been laid off and roughly 20,000 jobs lost. They also estimate that, in total, COVID-19 could cause a $1.4 billion loss to the local economy and $375 million in projected tax revenue lost over the next 10 to 14 months.

With the numbers before them, the group set out to form an 18-month survival and recovery strategy for Greater Victoria tourism – seeking out policy and financial support to ensure the industry’s survival as the pandemic continues. They came up with five requests for government.

First, the task force is asking the federal government to extend into 2021 the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) – which currently has an expiration date of June 15. The group says extending the emergency business subsidy will support businesses with reopening costs and maintain workers and operations into the coming year.

The task force is seeking a three-week extension to the temporary layoff period, which currently dictates that severance must be paid after an employee is laid off for a maximum of 13 weeks.

The third request is for interest-free loans, grants, subsidies or other financial supports, and the fourth asks for support for COVID-19 safety-oriented and physical distancing measures.

“There will be incremental expenses for personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies, staff costs for extra cleaning, signage, and education materials,” writes Tourism Victoria. “There will need to be clear guidelines from health authorities to ensure businesses can meet requirements.”

READ ALSO: Indigenous tourism being ignored by federal government, B.C. operators say

Lastly, the group asks that Destination Canada and Destination BC marketing funds are redirected from international source markets and used at the community level for the short-term future.

“Because international borders are closed to non-essential travel for the foreseeable future, it does not make sense for Destination Canada and Destination BC to continue to market internationally,” the group writes. “Instead, these funds could be re-dedicated to domestic source markets, promoting hyper-local tourism and ‘staycations’ within Canada.”

The task force will update its priorities as recovery evolves over the coming months.



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusTourism Victoria

Just Posted

‘Depression-era’ unemployment figures could hit Greater Victoria

South Island Prosperity Project launches new dashboard to measure effects of COVID-19

News of softwood lumber agreement lost amid COVID crisis

Reduced wood tariffs is a good starting point for a new (long-term) softwood lumber deal

Former Comox hospital turning into Vancouver Island’s first ‘dementia village’

Island Health inks deal to transform St. Joseph’s Hospital into groundbreaking $52.6 million facility

Vancouver Island hasn’t seen a new homegrown case of COVID-19 in two weeks

Island’s low and steady transmission rate chalked up to several factors

Three people facing mischief charges after protests at Premier John Horgan’s home

Special prosecutor was appointed to avoid real or perceived undue influence

Ferry sailings scheduled once again at Nanaimo’s Departure Bay terminal

BC Ferries announces that resumption of service June 3 includes four daily round trips

‘A bottomless well of love for people and communities’

Parksville Qualicum Beach News editor JR Rardon dies at age 61

Dump truck in Nanaimo snags power lines, snaps hydro pole, crashes

No injuries in incident Monday morning on Old Victoria Road

Kelowna man charged with harming a hamster

The 20-year-old Kelowna man faces several animal cruelty charges

No one injured in suspicious Victoria boat fire, say investigators

Victoria police and fire personnel called to blaze on waters near Selkirk Trestle May 22

Victoria dealer sells Batmobile replica at Arizona auction

Tim Quocksister sells Batmobile replica for $165,000 US at auction in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Snowbirds jets will not be leaving Kamloops, just yet

The Snowbirds have been in Kamloops since May 17 when a plane crashed killing Capt. Jennifer Casey

COVID-19 checkpoints ‘up to them,’ Bonnie Henry says of remote B.C. villages

Support local tourism economy, but only if you’re invited in

Most Read