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Investment in North Island tourism projects will boost local economy

‘Tourists from around the world visit Northern Vancouver Island to explore our coastal communities’
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The Village of Port Alice will be receiving $609,250 for municipal marina upgrades and repairs. (North Island Gazette file photo)

New Democrat MLA Michele Babchuk says the provincial government’s support for North Island tourism projects will bring more visitors to the community and strengthen the local economy.

“Tourists from around the world visit Northern Vancouver Island to explore our coastal communities, beautiful beaches, and all our incredible wildlife,” says Babchuk. “This stream of funding not only helps accommodate for our visitors, but provides critical infrastructure for our community members as well.”

On North Vancouver Island, the following projects are receiving funding:

Sointula Resource Centre Society: revitalizing the free bike program and expand it to include e-bike rentals and wayfinding signage - $62,445;

Village of Port Alice: municipal marina upgrades and repairs - $609,250;

Kwakiutl First Nation: Cluxewe Resort and Campground upgrades to water supply to provide potable water to guests of the resort - $999,375; and

Echo Bay Development Ltd: revitalization of docks and water treatment system of the Ḵ’wax̱wa̱lawadi Echo Bay marina and lodge - $403,000.

Across the province 31 projects are benefitting from one-time destination development grant funding, which aims to make communities competitive destinations for tourism and strengthen local economies.

Since 2022, the province has invested $60 million into the fund to help continue to rebuild tourism levels to pre-2020 numbers by 2024.

In its first year, the fund supported 90 projects in B.C. communities.

These projects have been selected for funding as they demonstrate tourism benefits to communities, including sustainability, accessibility, and economic benefit. These projects are future-thinking, and will support communities for years to come, supporting the Province’s CleanBC Plan and Climate Preparedness Adaptation Strategy.

“British Columbia is a world-class destination and tourism is one of the province’s greatest economic drivers,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. “The past three years have been incredibly challenging for people in the tourism industry, especially after years of economic uncertainty and extreme weather events like the recent wildfires. Investing in tourism infrastructure supports the tourism sector, the people who work in it, and is helping to create vibrant communities for all British Columbians and visitors.”

The Destination Development Fund supports tourism businesses by developing and rejuvenating tourism infrastructure. The 31 new recipients will receive nearly $15 million in 2023-24 with one-time grants.

Since 2021, more than $60 million has been provided through the Destination Development Fund helping rebuild tourism revenues to 2019 levels and strengthening a year-round visitor economy for people in B.C and for those who work in the tourism sector.

Projects were chosen for their contribution to communities, benefits to the tourism economy, and support for sustainability and accessibility.

The Province is also supporting the sector with $3 million through the B.C. Tourism Climate Resiliency Initiative. This will support education, assessments, expert coaching, action planning and adaptation to help tourism businesses and communities measure, track and improve sustainable and environmentally responsible practices in their operations.

Led by Destination BC, the initiative will develop climate preparedness and adaptation strategies and action plans to mitigate climate risks, as well as provide a foundation for a long-term sustainability and climate-adaptation approach for people in the B.C. tourism sector.

“The new B.C. Tourism Climate Resiliency Initiative provides a tremendous opportunity to bolster our tourism sector’s resilience, preserving natural spaces and making it well-equipped to face and adapt to climate change,” said Richard Porges, president and CEO, Destination BC. “Collectively, the tourism industry has a strong commitment to sustainability and aiding communities and visitors in their readiness for climate-related impacts. This new initiative will pave the way for climate preparedness and adaptation, positioning the tourism industry to proactively mitigate evolving climate risks.”

The B.C. Tourism Climate Resiliency Initiative also supports the preservation of B.C.’s natural spaces, responsible travel and advancing reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.

Quick Facts

The Province has invested $60 million in the Destination Development Fund since 2021.

In the first year of the Destination Development Fund, the Province supported 90 projects throughout the province.

The B.C. Tourism Climate Resiliency Initiative supports the Province’s CleanBC Plan and the Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy.

The B.C. Tourism Climate Resiliency Initiative also builds on the BC Tourism Sustainability Network, a free tourism sustainability program, led by the BC Regional Tourism Secretariat, which has helped more than 160 tourism businesses incorporate sustainability into their operations.