Ottawa introduces new financial aid to keep tourism operators out of debt
The federal government offers easy funding for tourism operators in the besieged country.
The sector was among the hardest hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, as international travel plummeted and domestic travelers largely stayed close to home.
Even as public health restrictions ease, Economic Development Minister Mélanie Joly said tour operators she spoke to felt some anxiety as July is almost halfway there.
What the government is offering them now is a mix of non-repayable grants of up to $ 100,000 or interest-free loans of up to $ 500,000 to fund capital improvements.
And at least a tenth of the $ 500 million deployed will go to Indigenous tourism operators and organizations for things like manpower training or national projects and will be non-repayable grants, addressing funding concerns for that party. of the tourism sector.
2021 “a pivotal moment” for Canadian tourism
Joly said the government hopes the money will help businesses in the sector avoid a debt spiral that could lead to more businesses shutting down.
“This can be a pivotal moment for the tourism industry. We just have to make sure that businesses survive,” Joly said in an interview.
The budget promised an injection of $ 1 billion over three years, starting this fiscal year, for the tourism industry trying to rebuild its revenues and prepare for the day when restrictions on international travel ease.
That’s why the funding is for projects that can help tourism operators – many of whom are small or medium-sized businesses – find ways to make more money in the off-season or off-season, or better respond to what travelers are looking for in terms of experience and health standards arising from COVID-19.
“It’s being able to manage the risk now. But we know there are lessons to be learned from the pandemic, and being able to stay open. So in that sense, it’s a way to have a solution to longer term, ”Joly mentioned.
No plans to open the border yet
Before that, however, the travel and tourism industry looked to the Liberals to detail a plan to reopen the borders and recently urged the government to have one well ahead of the early federal election call that would put a hiatus. in most policy development activities.
The specter of an election also casts a shadow over the mounds of ministerial spending announcements that have intensified with the summer heat.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hinted last week that his government was in no rush to remove border restrictions – especially for unvaccinated travelers who he said would not be allowed in for some time.
And on how tourism and festival operators might handle the thorny political issue of vaccine passports, Joly said each jurisdiction in the country has a different approach.
In Quebec, she noted, the provincial government’s reflection on such a validation document can be an incentive to ensure that people get vaccinated against COVID-19.