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COVID-19: B.C. gives support to certain tourism attractions, but won’t bail out PNE

Click to play video: 'B.C. government provide $50-million in COVID recovery funding to major tourist attractions' B.C. government provide $50-million in COVID recovery funding to major tourist attractions
Major tourists attractions like the PNE and H.R. MacMillan Space Centre will be able to access up to $1 million dollars in provincial grant money as part of a new COVID recovery program. Richard Zussman reports. – May 18, 2021

The province is providing $50 million in grants to help B.C.’s largest tourist attractions and tour bus companies amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s far short of the $8 million needed to save the Pacific National Exhibition and its annual fair.

Click to play video: 'B.C. government to provide up to $1M in funding to anchor attractions' B.C. government to provide up to $1M in funding to anchor attractions
B.C. government to provide up to $1M in funding to anchor attractions – May 18, 2021

“Everyone in B.C. has fond memories of visiting or working at our province’s many major anchor attractions. Many communities depend on tourism landmarks to boost the local economy, bring visitors to town and provide many young people with their first jobs,” Premier John Horgan said on Tuesday.

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“We are helping these important businesses survive today so they are ready for a strong recovery, and future generations can enjoy these iconic institutions for years to come.”

Click to play video: 'B.C. tourism minister announces details of tour bus and major attraction grants' B.C. tourism minister announces details of tour bus and major attraction grants
B.C. tourism minister announces details of tour bus and major attraction grants – May 18, 2021

Read more: B.C. to hire 1,400 out-of-work tourism and hospitality workers at vaccination clinics

Click to play video: 'B.C. pledges dollars for tourism but falls short in bailing out the PNE' B.C. pledges dollars for tourism but falls short in bailing out the PNE
B.C. pledges dollars for tourism but falls short in bailing out the PNE – May 19, 2021

Last week, organizers of Vancouver’s Pacific National Exhibition said they need $8 million in urgent, emergency aid from the provincial government or would be at risk of folding.

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The province says the City of Vancouver is responsible to support the PNE. The PNE will be applying for the $1 million grant but it falls well short of what is needed.

“We do think it is important that the government learn more about our situation. We are quite certain when they hear our story and our need, they will understand why our ask is $8 million. We have been very transparent that what we need is enough to climb out of the situation, it won’t be enough to make us whole,” PNE spokesperson Laura Ballance said.

Ballance says they are a $60 million entity and it is very hard to compare the PNE to some of the other, smaller tourism attractions.

Click to play video: 'PNE latest Vancouver event to cancel for summer' PNE latest Vancouver event to cancel for summer
PNE latest Vancouver event to cancel for summer – May 5, 2021

Grants will be available for not-for-profit organizations and businesses.

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Eligible expenses for the new grant include payroll, rent and utility costs related to restarting or ramping up operations in preparation for gradual reopening in alignment with provincial health orders.

Eligible attractions include amusement parks, wildlife parks, botanical gardens, heritage institutions, museums, galleries and science centres. This includes the PNE, Butchart Gardens, Science World and the Capilano Suspension Bridge.

“For large attractions entering a second year of a 90-per-cent reduction in revenue, we appreciate this funding gesture as it will help contribute toward some fixed costs like insurance or property tax,” Butchart Gardens CEO David Cowan and Capilano Suspension Bridge owner Nancy Stibbard said in a joint statement.

Read more: New B.C. COVID-19 restrictions having a devastating impact on tourism industry

A major anchor attraction in an urban centre that receives 75,000 or more visitors per year is eligible for up to $1 million. Major anchor attractions in rural areas that receive 15,000 or more visitors per year are eligible for up to $500,000.

Tour bus companies that serve 30,000 or more passengers per year are eligible for up to $500,000.

The government had allocated $100 million in April’s budget to support major tourism attractions.

Click to play video: 'How the new travel restrictions will impact B.C.’s tourism industry' How the new travel restrictions will impact B.C.’s tourism industry
How the new travel restrictions will impact B.C.’s tourism industry – Apr 24, 2021

Non-essential travel is currently banned across health regions in British Columbia.

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Officials are expected to encourage people to resume travel in a controlled way in July.

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