Kingfisher Wilderness Adventures’s team from last year. (Kingfisher photo)

Tourism Vancouver Island focused on helping businesses survive the season

Port McNeill based kayak tour company has benefitted from one-on-one support

Tourism businesses are some of the most deeply impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, so Tourism Vancouver Island has pivoted its resources to focus entirely on helping that sector survive.

The tourism agency’s resilience program kicked off in April. Tourism enterprises who sign up get assigned to a specific person who helps determine what funding they qualify for, and how to adjust their offerings to operate within WorkSafeBC requirements. Any Vancouver Island tourism company is eligible to participate in the program, and it’s free of charge.

So far, 22 north Island businesses are participating, but the agency estimates there are upwards of 250 who could benefit. 

Tourism in B.C. received a $1-million federal grant to help run the resiliency programs, inspired by Vancouver Island’s model, split between each of the province’s five regional tourism agencies.

While the resiliency programs do not provide any direct funding to tourism businesses, what they are offering is the consultation business owners have sought. There is so much information, different aid programs and changing eligibility requirements, having a dedicated consultant is a big help.

RELATED: Feds earmark $1.5M to support recovery of B.C., Indigenous tourism

Port McNeill resident Andrew Jones owns Kingfisher Wilderness Adventures, a kayak touring company he started in 1999. He had also just co-founded a new venture offering coastal safaris.

Jones signed up for Tourism Vancouver Island’s resiliency program right away, and appreciates having one-on-one support from a dedicated advisor helped him successfully apply for funding, and retool his business for the short term. He’s refocused his summer schedule on whale watching kayak trips out of two base-camps on Hansen Island, just off the coast from Telegraph Cove, and has cancelled all the expedition-style trips.

Usually, he’d have 28 staff members during the summer, but this year it will be down to 12. That’s still more than he strictly needs, but Jones said he wants to keep as many of his guides employed as he can, with help from aid programs for which he’s qualified. Tourism Vancouver Island has also helped with human resources requirements, as COVID-19 has introduced new processes and safety checks.

”I could probably do it myself, but there’s so much coming at you all at once, so having someone who can help find that answer right away has been really helpful,” Jones said.

Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email:
zoe.ducklow@blackpress.ca.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusTourism

Just Posted

Alongside Dr. King: Vancouver Island man honoured for civil rights work

Bill Duncan, 95, gets lifetime achievement award

Longtime Vancouver Island fishing family hooks into local market over wholesale

Locally caught fish are scarce in fishing towns, an irony one Sointula family is working to change

Sale of Vancouver Island’s most remote pub falls through

Beloved Holberg pub and restaurant The Scarlet Ibis is back with previous owner

Pay your parking ticket if you want, or don’t, Saanich doesn’t care

Current system a waste of resources, missed revenue opportunity, councillor says

Island tour operator keeps Indigenous culture alive through COVID-19 with virtual journeys

Campbell River based Homalco Tours is also in the process of setting up live cameras for bear viewing in Orford

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

NHL’s Canadian hubs offer little economic benefit, but morale boost is valuable: experts

Games are slated to start Aug. 1 with six Canadian teams qualifying for the 24-team resumption of play

Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district considers COVID-19 lessons in planning for fall

Elementary, secondary school committees formed to plan for next school year

Young volunteers clean Vancouver Island beaches

Events held in Campbell River, Nanaimo, Comox, Powell River and Victoria

Most Read