Minister of Economic Development Melanie Joly rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on October 1, 2020. Joly says federal marketing strategies may need a shift away from attracting foreign visitors to Canada for the foreseeable future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Minister of Economic Development Melanie Joly rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on October 1, 2020. Joly says federal marketing strategies may need a shift away from attracting foreign visitors to Canada for the foreseeable future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Federal tourism efforts to focus on going local to help hard-hit sector, Joly says

The government plans to back low-interest loans of up to $1 million that can be repaid over 10 years

Economic Development Minister Mélanie Joly says federal marketing strategies might need to shift away from attracting foreign visitors to Canada for the foreseeable future, as COVID-19 keeps suppressing travel.

She and her international counterparts have agreed that domestic travel is likely to take priority even after vaccinations begin.

Efforts earlier this year to redirect $40 million in marketing budgets yielded some results, Joly says, citing high attendance at Banff National Park in Alberta and visitors to Quebec’s Gaspé region.

The government will likely keep that approach until the pandemic is in the rear-view mirror.

Joly says in an interview that the strategy will likely be to first promote people travelling within their regions, then to travel across the country.

She says international efforts would come last, once officials in this country are sure other countries have widespread vaccination efforts that would protect Canadians’ health and safety.

But waiting it out won’t be easy for many businesses. Travel is down and the tourism sector was hit earlier and harder by public health restrictions.

Although the country has recouped just over four-fifths of the approximately three million jobs lost during spring lockdowns at the outset of the pandemic, over one-quarter of the remainder are in what Statistics Canada refers to as the accommodation and food services sector, which includes tourism operators.

READ MORE: Consumer rights advocates call for airline refunds in Parliament hearing

Some tourism businesses were unable to operate at full capacity or earn enough during the summer travel season to make it through the winter.

“Targeted help for those employers will be needed for some time to ensure there are jobs to return to when the pandemic is over,” said Goldy Hyder, president of the Business Council of Canada.

Last month’s fall economic update offered to inject some long-sought support.

The statement set aside $500 million for regional development agencies to spend on tourism businesses through to next June, trying to bolster a sector that normally employs about 750,000 people and makes up about two per cent of gross domestic product.

It also outlined a new loan program for highly affected sectors like tourism. The government plans to back low-interest loans of up to $1 million that can be repaid over 10 years once things bounce back, Joly said.

“Then they can generate revenues, potentially more revenue than they thought even possible, because people will want to travel,” she said in an interview this week.

“That will help them eventually be able to repay some of the loans and basically get through this tough time.”

Joly couldn’t say exactly when the loan program will become available. She said work is underway with the Business Development Bank of Canada on the fine details, and negotiations with banks to make sure rates offered are below what is currently offered in the market.

“We know that time is of the essence,” she said.

And although this measure wasn’t directly pointed at the tourism industry, the sector had asked for the federal wage subsidy to return to covering 75 per cent of eligible payroll costs and a revamped rent-relief program, both of which are now in a bill before the House of Commons.

Jordan Press, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

From left are Campbell River Food Bank volunteers Darlane Davis, Pat Carville and Donnie Earles. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror.
Keeping food out of the landfill just might save the planet

Food waste is a large contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, and it doesn’t have to be

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

(File photo)
Campbell River’s sewer system is at capacity for southernmost residents

City says no more homes can be hooked into the sewer system at the south end at this point

Police executed a search warrant at the Devils Army Clubhouse on Petersen road in Campbell River on August 10, 2017.
Murder trial into 2016 Campbell River killing underway in Victoria

Ricky Alexander is charged with the first-degree murder of John Dillon Brown

A wildfire has started near Gold River, and B.C. Wildfire Service crews are on scene. Photo courtesy Coastal Fire Centre
Wildfire burning in remote area near Gold River

Coastal Fire Centre investigating cause, but confirms it is human-caused

A lone traveler enters the Calgary Airport in Calgary, Alta., Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
VIDEO: Trudeau defends Canada’s travel restrictions as effective but open to doing more

Trudeau said quarantine hotels for international air travellers will continue until at least May 21

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson leaves the assembly with Premier John Horgan after the budget speech Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Paid sick leave for ‘hard-hit’ workers left out of provincial budget: BCGEU

‘For recovery to be equitable it requires supports for workers, not just business,’ says union president Laird Cronk

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

In this image from video, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, center, is taken into custody as his attorney, Eric Nelson, left, looks on, after the verdicts were read at Chauvin’s trial for the 2020 death of George Floyd, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Court TV via AP, Pool
George Floyd’s death was ‘wake-up call’ about systemic racism: Trudeau

Derek Chauvin was found guilty Tuesday on all three charges against him

A total of 10 flight exposures have affected the Victoria International Airport in April so far, making it the highest monthly total since the start of the pandemic. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hits record-breaking number of monthly COVID-19 flight exposures

As of April 21, 10 flight exposures reported for the month

Former University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Rowing Canada sanctions former head coach of B.C. varsity women’s team

Suspension of Barney Williams would be reversed if he complies with certain terms

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Most Read