Large Nova Scotia tourism operators are receiving a helping hand from the province after it announced a program that will have the provincial government back businesses’ loans.
The province says the goal is to allow large tourism operators to receive better interest rates and more favourable terms at their bank of choice.
“COVID-19 restrictions have hit the industry hard,” said Geoff MacLellan, minister of business.
“Our large tourism operators are important to the growth of our sector. By helping the larger operators, small and medium operators also benefit.
“There are direct or indirect benefits for everyone.”
The $50-million Tourism Sector Financing Assistance Program is designed to provide eligible operators access to debt financing, such as lines of credit or term loans issued by a chartered bank or the Business Development Bank of Canada.
Tourism businesses that are eligible include resort, tour and scenic or sightseeing transportation operators with at least 100 full-time and/or seasonal employees, annual revenue of at least $10 million and that have lost at least 50 per cent of their revenue between April 1 and July 30, 2020, compared to the same period in 2019.
Dennis Campbell, CEO of Ambassatours Gray Line and Murphy’s on the Water, welcomed the news.
“This type of loan support could provide our company with much-needed financial stability as we adapt to this industry-wide crisis under very challenging market conditions,” Campbell said in a press release.
“As one of eastern Canada’s largest tourism experience providers and employers, we’re committed to working with our many partners to ensure that locals and visitors continue to be offered creative, memorable ways to explore and enjoy our province.”
Under the Tourism Sector Financing Assistance Program, an applicant’s amount of debt cannot exceed $15 million.
The government will guarantee up to 95 per cent of the amount borrowed and the interest rate cannot exceed the prime lending rate plus 1.5 per cent.
The program will be administered by the Nova Scotia COVID-19 Response Council at Dalhousie University.
The council already administers another $50-million program that supported businesses that closed as directed by public health orders.
That program was announced in March and funded income replacement, impact grants and reopening support for small businesses and supports for unemployed individuals who did not qualify for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).