B.C. landmark tourism attractions eligible for up to $1 million in pandemic grants

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VICTORIA — The B.C. government is offering up to $1-million grants to help "anchor" attractions and tour bus operators survive the pandemic and ramp up operations when it's safe to do so.

Premier John Horgan and Tourism Minister Melanie Mark say they believe the $50-million BC Major Anchor Attractions Program is enough to prevent any of those not-for-profits and businesses on the edge from going under.

Mark says urban attractions that receive 75,000 visitors or more each year are eligible for the maximum amount, while rural attractions with 15,000 or more visitors and tourism bus companies with 30,000 or more passengers a year may receive up to $500,000.

The funding will cover expenses like payroll, rent and utility costs related to restarting operations in preparation for gradual reopening in alignment with provincial health orders.

Horgan says anchor attractions have ripple effects for the economy as visitors stay in hotels, eat at restaurants and shop in the area, while also offering employment opportunities, especially for youth.

The application window will be open until June 7, with funds provided in July.

Horgan says few sectors have been hit as hard by COVID-19 as tourism.

"Many of our major tourism attractions we all know and love are struggling and we need to make sure we're there for them," he says.

"The effects, of course, are far-reaching not just on those anchor attractions but on the many communities that depend on tourism landmarks to have people coming through their community to boost their local economy and bring visitors to town."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 18, 2021.

The Canadian Press