Dear Hospitality Community,
As I reflect upon this past year, writing to you for the final time of 2020, it may seem fitting to recount the many challenges 2020 brought each of us. Instead, I'd like to take a moment to celebrate the more positive aspects of this year, recognizing the unbelievable level of collaboration, passion, and resiliency that has echoed throughout our industry.
I first joined as your BCHA President and CEO in March of this year. Unbeknownst to me or anyone at the organization at that time, I was being tasked to lead our provincial accommodators through the most significant and devastating crisis in recent history. Though my commitment to you all was unwavering, I had moments where I considered if there was any way I could truly make the difference so desperately needed in order for our industry to survive.
I, along with our small but mighty BCHA team, began recognizing the misunderstandings of our industry at the federal, provincial and municipal level. We heard your stories and experiences and witnessed the impact the pandemic was having on a human level. We recognized the commitment to collaborate that went beyond anything ever witnessed in our community before. And most importantly, we learned the true power that lies in numbers and the overwhelming dedication each of you possess to help one another through such troubling times. It gave me resolve to tell our story of truth in a way that could be heard and understood.
It moves me to recognize the partnerships that have been developed and nurtured over the past ten months amongst industry associations, destination marketing organizations, vendors and businesses of all sizes, and our tourism community at large. We have demonstrated how strong we are when we lean on each other as a united front to action change.
And it is working.
This week, we received two announcements from government, indicating that they are listening and considering the voice of our industry. On Monday, we learned that eligibility for the Small and Medium-Sized Business Grant program would be expanded; and today, it was announced that the tourism industry would receive $100 million with an additional $5 million allocated for Indigenous businesses, with the expectation that this is still the first step in assisting with recovery.
We are greatly appreciative for this support and the commitment shown to our industry. We whole-heartedly thank the provincial government along with the Honourable Melanie Mark, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport for facilitating this change and heeding our concerns. This is a very critical step in securing support to keep many of our accommodators across the province operational.
While we absolutely celebrate these wins, we must also recognize the continued limitations that indicate there is further work to do. Many businesses that are in dire need of support still do not qualify; many of these are deemed too large (more than 149 employees), have ownership located outside of British Columbia, or are considered too new. The impact of potentially loosing the largest businesses, the largest employers, and the largest contributors of our industry to government taxes remains misunderstood.
Your team at the BC Hotel Association is committed to ensuring we continue to educate, communicate and advocate on your behalf to shine a light on this and other important issues. Our resolve is unwavering. In 2021, we will be working with our industry partners to ensure federally and provincially we do everything we can to support your very survival, and that our guests can once again travel safely, experiencing excellence in guest service.
Wishing you all the warmest of holidays. Though 2020 made us exceptionally grateful for our industry and all that we hold close, we look forward to a brighter future in 2021.
President & CEO