Over 21 tourism operators in Campbell River have benefitted from Tourism Vancouver Island’s (TVI) resiliency program that was set-up in April to support businesses in the province to navigate the impact of COVID-19.
One of the tour operators, Homalco Wildlife and Cultural Tours, received funding from Island Coastal Economic Trust (ICET) to install live bear cameras in Orford. Along with the live cameras, the project will also have access to a wildlife biologist for a more interactive and personal experience for viewers.
The operation is to maintain brand presence and a customer base even though physical tours may not be an option this season.
The business of tourism is at a “crisis point” said Anthony Everett, CEO, Tourism Vancouver Island.
And with tourism limited to only province wide visitors at the moment there are fresh challenges for tour operators right from adjusting their prices to offering small “bubble trips” for families.
“Canada has always been an expensive tourist destination,” said Everett and added that more than 60 per cent of tourism money came from international travellers.
With travel options limited to within the province, a lot of tour operators will have to modify their prices as most British Columbians will not spend that much money in their own province, said Everett.
“We are helping tourism operators reformat their offerings and adapt to new customers,” said Everett.
Based on the research they have, 20 per cent of businesses report being at risk of bankruptcy and almost 47 per cent do not expect a profitable year (2020).
Each of these businesses face unique challenges and Everett said that the program is identifying ways to “help them survive.”
The Vancouver Island Coastal Resiliency program, in partnership with ICET, pairs businesses with consultants who can help them pivot operations to adapt to the 2020 tourism season .
These include information on available relief measures, legal and financial expertise as well as access to digital resources such as webinars.
TVI’s resiliency program later on evolved to help province-wide tourism businesses through the British Columbia Tourism Resiliency program.
In June the Western Economic Diversification Canada announced $1-million in funding to support small and medium sized tourism businesses throughout the province.