Kingfisher Wilderness Adventures’s team from last year. (Kingfisher photo)

Kingfisher Wilderness Adventures’s team from last year. (Kingfisher photo)

Tourism Vancouver Island focused on helping businesses survive the season

Port McNeill based kayak tour company has benefitted from one-on-one support

Tourism businesses are some of the most deeply impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, so Tourism Vancouver Island has pivoted its resources to focus entirely on helping that sector survive.

The tourism agency’s resilience program kicked off in April. Tourism enterprises who sign up get assigned to a specific person who helps determine what funding they qualify for, and how to adjust their offerings to operate within WorkSafeBC requirements. Any Vancouver Island tourism company is eligible to participate in the program, and it’s free of charge.

So far, 22 north Island businesses are participating, but the agency estimates there are upwards of 250 who could benefit. 

Tourism in B.C. received a $1-million federal grant to help run the resiliency programs, inspired by Vancouver Island’s model, split between each of the province’s five regional tourism agencies.

While the resiliency programs do not provide any direct funding to tourism businesses, what they are offering is the consultation business owners have sought. There is so much information, different aid programs and changing eligibility requirements, having a dedicated consultant is a big help.

RELATED: Feds earmark $1.5M to support recovery of B.C., Indigenous tourism

Port McNeill resident Andrew Jones owns Kingfisher Wilderness Adventures, a kayak touring company he started in 1999. He had also just co-founded a new venture offering coastal safaris.

Jones signed up for Tourism Vancouver Island’s resiliency program right away, and appreciates having one-on-one support from a dedicated advisor helped him successfully apply for funding, and retool his business for the short term. He’s refocused his summer schedule on whale watching kayak trips out of two base-camps on Hansen Island, just off the coast from Telegraph Cove, and has cancelled all the expedition-style trips.

Usually, he’d have 28 staff members during the summer, but this year it will be down to 12. That’s still more than he strictly needs, but Jones said he wants to keep as many of his guides employed as he can, with help from aid programs for which he’s qualified. Tourism Vancouver Island has also helped with human resources requirements, as COVID-19 has introduced new processes and safety checks.

”I could probably do it myself, but there’s so much coming at you all at once, so having someone who can help find that answer right away has been really helpful,” Jones said.

Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email:
zoe.ducklow@blackpress.ca.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusTourism

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The exterior of infamous Port Hardy apartment building Highland Manor. (Zoe Ducklow photo)
Draft rental standards bylaw a hot topic at District of Port Hardy meeting

Mayor Dennis Dugas wants the bylaw to pass so they can “protect the people.”

North Island Gazette file photo of Port McNeill council
Port McNeill council roundup: SD85, tourism and zoning discussed

More news from Port McNeill’s April 13 council meeting.

B.C. Centre for Disease Control maps showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 4-10. (BCCDC image)
Parksville-Qualicum passes Nanaimo in new COVID-19 cases

Greater Victoria had more new cases than any other Island area: B.C. Centre for Disease Control

The Port McNeill waterfront on a beautiful sunny day. (Bill McQuarrie photo)
Waterfront Playground Proposal receives backing from Port McNeill council

In favour of the motion were Wickstrom, Baron and Coun. Shelley Downey.

Quatse, the abandoned sea otter pup who was rescued in Port Hardy. (Marine Mammal Rescue Centre photo)
Quatse the sea otter pup continues to recover in treatment

Quatse’s last “pupdate” was on March 31, where it was noted she is “doing well and gaining weight.”

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

For Leela Harrop, the recent death of her brother Raju Tiwari pushed her to sign up for the vaccine. Photo supplied
Island woman on fence about vaccine prompted by brother’s death

Leela Harrop of Comox says she did have issues with signing up online this past week

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Premier John Horgan receives a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the pharmacy in James Bay Thrifty’s Foods in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. Premier John Horgan gets AstraZeneca shot, encourages others

27% of residents in B.C. have now been vaccinated against COVID-19

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

John Furlong, Own The Podium board chairman and former CEO of the Vancouver Olympics, addresses a Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday November 25, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
John Furlong presents 2030 Winter Games vision to Vancouver Board of Trade

Vancouver and Whistler would remain among host sites because of 2010 sport venues still operational

Most Read