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

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

Tala MacDonald, a 17-year-old student at Mount Sentinel Secondary who is also a volunteer firefighter, has won the $100,000 Loran Scholarship. Photo: Submitted
West Kootenay student wins $100K scholarship

Tala MacDonald is one of 30 Canadians to receive the Loran Scholarship

Montrose resident Kimba McLean has hiked Antenna Trail every day since October and counting. Photo: Jim Bailey
Montrose man makes daily trek up Antenna Trail

Kimba McLean put on more than 800-km hiking Antenna Trail every day for the past six months

Kristian Camero and Jessica Wood, seen here, co-own The Black Cauldron with Stephen Barton. The new Nelson restaurant opened earlier this month while indoor dining is restricted by the province. Photo: Tyler Harper
A restaurant opens in Nelson, and no one is allowed inside

The Black Cauldron opened while indoor dining is restricted in B.C.

First-year Selkirk College student Terra-Mae Box is one of many talented writers who will read their work at the Black Bear Review’s annual (virtual) launch on April 22. Photo: Submitted
Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

(Black Press file photo).
Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Most Read