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

Just Posted

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

The City of Victoria is hoping to ring in the summer by celebrating local art and offering some distanced, live music to surprise people in parks, plazas and other public spaces. (Photo courtesy of the City of Victoria)
Live, pop-up concerts and local art being showcased in Victoria this summer

People will see surprise serenades at 16 locations throughout the summer

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

Jada Benwell and Connor Larkey are the valedictorians of the 2021 graduating class at Parkland Secondary School. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Pandemic taught lessons in perseverance for North Saanich high schoolers

Parkland Secondary School to release 2021 grad ceremony video on June 25

The 14th annual Oak Bay Young Exceptional Star (YES) awards June 3. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Oak Bay celebrates its Young Exceptional Stars with outdoor award ceremony

Nine young people recognized in 14th annual awards

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read