During an already successful conference the Honourable Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism & Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour, added to the good news announcing the creation of a stable funding formula so Destination BC can continue its work of growing British Columbia’s tourism industry. Minister Bond spoke about how tourism is a key sector in the government’s BC Jobs Plan and an important economic driver in the province. During her keynote address Minister Bond highlighted how the $98 million annual investment from the province helps the sector create jobs in every region of the province. She also praised the efforts of Destination BC, TIABC, the team at Vancouver International Airport, and all tourism operators who contribute to our global reputation.
“You are a key reason why we’re experiencing such positive tourism growth,” Minister Bond told the crowd. “You’re providing the world-class tourism experience that visitors are looking for and putting BC at the top of the list for travellers from around the world.”
New funding model
Minister Bond also provided highlights of Destination BC’s new funding model, including:
- First, the funding model will protect DBC’s annual base funding of $50 million
- Second, it will be tied to both the broader tourism sector’s success and DBC’s performance – allowing for increases of up to 2% per year
- Third, funding increases will be cumulative, meaning that DBC’s budget can build year-over-year
- This means that there is an opportunity over the next six years for DBC’s annual base budget to increase by $5 million over what it is today.
Every increase will be a permanent addition to Destination BC’s base budget going forward, said Minister Bond. “This is really positive news.”
In additional encouraging news, Minister Bond shared the exceptional results of the BC tourism industry over the past year, including:
- BC saw over 5.5 million international visitors in 2016 – an increase of 12.3%.
Over 600,000 more visitors arrived in 2016 compared to 2015.
- BC tourism contributed $7.4 billion to BC’s gross domestic product, an increase of 5.6%.
- Tourism generated $15.7 billion in revenue, an increase of 5.3% over 2014.
- The industry supported nearly 19,000 tourism-related businesses.
Budget 2017 included good news for tourism businesses
Minister Bond noted that British Columbia tabled its fifth-consecutive balanced budget, with a number of items that will benefit tourism and many tourism businesses, including:
- $36 million for the BC Parks Future Strategy that will benefit tourism through improved services and supports
- A cut to the small business tax rate from 2.5% to 2% effective April 1, 2017
- Reduction and eventual elimination of PST on electricity will reduce costs for small tourism businesses. For example, PST on electricity cost the accommodation and food services sector $11M in 2015/16.
- $40 million to extend rural broadband service – this will help tourists and local businesses connect in more remote B.C. locations.
- $4.7 billion ministry and partner investment in transportation infrastructure over the next three years.
More details on the funding—and the year-end tourism industry performance figures—can be found here.