Resilience Is Brilliance
Without a doubt, tourism is an essential part of Vancouver Island’s economy. In fact, it is the source of about 60,000 jobs and generates approximately $2.2 billion annually, though in 2020 prospects look very different. Business generated by visitors is an important economic driver for smaller, rural regions as it supports small B&B’s, whale watching, fishing tours, and more. Of course, as with countless other aspects of our lives, COVID-19 has swiftly uprooted plans these businesses may have had for this season. Thankfully, protective measures have been enacted - one of which is the Vancouver Island Coastal Tourism Resiliency Program.
Supported through both provincial and federal funding, the program (VICTRP) provides tourism businesses with one-on-one support to navigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, helping businesses to adapt and work towards recovery and long-term resiliency. Tourism businesses are paired with a Program Advisor facilitates customized support for each business that includes navigating available government aid, health and safety protocols for all sectors, free appointments with Program Experts in finance, human resources, marketing, and more.
Over 300 tourism-based businesses on Vancouver Island have already started receiving support through the VICTRP including 23 in the Cowichan Valley. When speaking with Brad Grigor of Turning Point Arts, he said that the Program Advisor he was paired with really helped him sort through the onslaught of information concerning the changing rules and regulations all coming out at once. Brad runs a unique home-based business which includes both a pottery studio but also a small B&B. The one-on-one time devoted to each of the clients in the program meant the Program Advisor was able to take the necessary time to understand the nuances of Turning Point Arts and therefore bring attention to which government aid programs directly affect Brad and which strategies to focus on moving forward.
In addition to personalized support, the VICTRP website is currently hosting a variety of online seminars that can be accessed at any time. Merridale Cidery is one of the businesses that has taken part and Celeste Herbert said of the program that “we were been blown away... The program is so practical and approachable. Their seminars focus on issues that Island businesses are facing right now and provide access to resources and expertise that we could never afford on our own. In particular, we were able to connect with Go2HR, whose recommendations on hiring in the time of COVID-19 were real-world and actionable.”
The value of the tourism industry to the economic health of the Vancouver Island region cannot be understated and programs like this have been put in place to recognize this and place value on the businesses that its comprised of. Program Advisors are standing by and are eager to get in touch. Go to TourismResiliency.ca/VICTRP or call 1-855-722-9036 (Monday-Friday, 9am-4pm) for the support you need.
- Ian Locke
Downtown Duncan BIA