News Release: Keeping visitors to the Thompson Okanagan safe during emergencies

For Immediate Release
2019TAC0067-001125
June 1, 2019

“The last two summers of unprecedented wildfires were hard on tourism-dependent communities,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture. “We know that one of the biggest challenges the industry faced was getting accurate, up-to-date information to visitors. This year, we’re helping the tourism sector prepare to keep visitors safe during emergencies and making sure tourism in affected areas can rebound quickly.”

The B.C. government is providing a total of $200,000 in one-time grants to support regional destination marketing organizations’ emergency preparedness, including $25,000 to the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association.

“Timely, accurate information is essential in emergencies,” said Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness. “The tourism sector can play a critical role in keeping people safe, especially in rural and remote areas. This investment is helping the industry plan ahead so people can get the information they need, when they need it, keeping visitors safe and local economies strong.”

The regional destination marketing organizations will use this funding to create a common set of communications tools, emergency management training for regional teams and co- ordinators, and expand their tourism database to enable real-time information sharing in the event of an emergency. Together, these activities will help mitigate the effects of natural disasters on B.C.’s tourism reputation through better preparedness, co-ordination and communication.

“On behalf of the Thompson Okanagan Region, we applaud the Province in recognizing the importance of improving our crisis management and in providing emergency management funds in order to make this a reality,” said Glenn Mandziuk, president and CEO, Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association. “In a short time, we will announce the addition of a crisis management co-ordinator in the Thompson Okanagan to work closely with our other regional partners. Through this process, we envision accurate, timely and concise information will be more readily available to residents and tourists alike during emergency situations.”

The government announced the grants as part of B.C. Tourism Week, May 26-June 2, 2019, which highlights the industry’s vital importance to B.C.’s economy by creating jobs, strengthening communities and promoting year-round tourism in all four corners of the province.

Learn More:
Learn how tourism operators can prepare for emergencies: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-preparedness-response- recovery/preparedbc

Learn more about how to personally prepare for an emergency:
http://www.emergencyinfobc.gov.bc.ca/

Read the minister’s statement on B.C. Tourism Week:
https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2019TAC0039-001066

A backgrounder follows.

Contact:
Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture
Government Communications and Public Engagement
250 208-4309


BACKGROUNDER

Facts about tourism and emergency preparedness:

  • The B.C. government supports municipalities by investing more than $145 million annually in the tourism sector.
  • B.C. is a top destination for visitors from around the globe:
  • In 2018, more than six million visitors came to B.C.
  • In 2018, the tourism sector generated approximately $18.4 billion in revenue and employed more than 137,000 people.
  • Over the most recent two years, the Province has invested $2.7 million to help attract tourists back to areas affected by wildfires.
  • To support community resiliency in the face of wildfires, floods and other emergencies, the B.C. government gave a $31-million boost to the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund (CEPF) for local governments and First Nations, bringing the total to $69.5 million.
  • The Province is also supporting volunteer and composite fire departments throughout B.C. with a $5-million boost for equipment and training through the Province’s CEPF.
  • In addition, the B.C. government provided $10 million in provincial funding to support communities in their recovery from the 2018 wildfire season.

Connect with the Province of B.C. at: news.gov.bc.ca/connect

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