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“I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.” ~~ John G. Diefenbaker

When asked, ‘Do you have a strategy – anything forward thinking when it comes to dealing with these issues?’, the answer is, ‘Destination BC’s is doing it’. Well Minister, what are you doing? ~~ Tourism co-critic Doug Clovechok

On February 18th, Carole James Finance Ministry sent out a Budget 2020 media release ... it began with the following words:

Budget 2020 moves British Columbia forward by building the infrastructure the growing province needs, supporting thousands of new jobs, strengthening investments in health and education and making life more affordable for everyone.
What that media release did not indicate, despite such a glowing introduction, was the very real reality of BC’s situation ... declining exports, industrial building projects being curtailed, second thoughts being raised on energy projects, nor resource jobs - especially forestry – in a steep decline.

The other thing which was conveniently left out of the announcement was the fact that Tourism, the Arts and Culture -- one of the sectors of our economy which they have been touting as what they see as a big part of the greening of BC – was being robbed of, according to the BC Liberals, over $1.3 million in essential funding.

The BC Liberal Tourism co-critics are Parksville - Qualicum MLA Michelle Stillwell, and Columbia River - Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok.  In a statement released last Friday, Stillwell stated;

Tourism is a major economic driver that brings in more than a billion dollars in annual tax revenue to B.C., but now the NDP has slashed the very budget used to promote our province and stimulate the industry.”

She then continued, “The NDP keep suggesting the tourism industry will somehow pick up the slack for communities hurt by the province’s failing resource sector, but it’s hard to see how Destination BC is supposed to do that with less money in their budget. These cuts make it clear that tourism is not a priority for this NDP government.”

Columbia River - Revelstoke
Liberal MLA Doug Clovechok
On Friday, I spoke with her co-critic Doug Clovechok, over the phone, to get his feeling on the situation for Tourism in BC.  To say he was unimpressed is putting it mildly. Of the government, he said;

I don’t know what business school they went to, but they should have dropped out.  When a sector of your resource industry is tracking in the right direction you don’t dis-invest, you invest in that so that it continues to grow … but these guys don’t seem to get that.”

He went on to say, “You’ve got the COVID-19 which is not to be taken lightly … you’ve got protests and blockades … you’ve got a potential fire season … you’ve regional and area construction like the Trans-Canada highway that’s going to affect traffic patterns …  you’ve got an American election coming up and people don’t usually travel as much during those election periods.”

‘Do you have a strategy – anything forward thinking when it comes to dealing with these issues?’ … the answer is, Destination BC’s is doing it’.”

So there’s some really strong head-winds that the tourism industry in British Columbia are going to be confronting -- in spite of the fact it’s really successful and yet I don’t see anything from this minister that there’s been any planning – that there’s any strategy as to how are we going to mitigate these things”, he continued.

So, I asked him … ‘what about the recently announced $1 million dollars the government recently announced, which was to be used for tourism projects in hard-hit BC forestry communities?’

When you look at the million dollars that you referenced (forestry money), that money came out of Destination BC, so that’s another cut … money taken from their budget”, he remarked.

That monies going to go to five different Destination Marketing Organizations (DMO’s) through-out British Columbia; each of them gets $200,000. From a forestry perspective, it’s completely misleading when you think that investing $200,00 in a DMO is going to replace any of the losses that have happened to forestry families – it’s a joke.”

“The theory (I guess that they’re thinking) is that if you market it (tourism in BC), and more people come, then the industry will grow and it will create new jobs”. 

But to think that this $200,000 is going to help them replace their livelihood, and employment?  It’s not possible. The tourism sector jobs that potentially could be created, do not come close to the kind of money that forestry jobs provide.”

Referring back to the Liberals Friday media release, it stated … the Tourism Industry Association of BC has also raised concerns about the impact that the Minister of Tourism’s short-sightedness will have on the industry. This comes on top of significant budget cuts to essential tourism-related areas like BC Parks and the Conservation Officer Services.

So, I asked Doug ... WHAT IS the economic strategy of Premier John Horgan’s NDP government?

These guys are broke”, he said to me.  The twenty-three new taxes they have implemented, since taking power, indicate to me that they are protecting a surplus that is razor thin … and now they’re going to try and put a hiking boot tax in place to pay for trails.  SERIOUSLY?”

I think the key thing here -- that people need to understand – is that John Horgan and his BC NDP do not have an economic plan needed to grow the economy of British Columbia”.

Clovechok went on to say, “They have no job plan whatsoever. A strong economy creates jobs, and creates opportunity for people”, and then continued;

“When it comes to tourism, there’s some significant head winds in our future, and from what we’ve gleaned from the Minister of Tourism (Lisa Beare), there is no comprehensive plan, from her ministry. She defers everything to Destination BC, and when asked, ‘Do you have a strategy – anything forward thinking when it comes to dealing with these issues?’ … the answer is, Destination BC’s is doing it’.”

Well Minister, what are you doing?”

According to Clovechok the NDP seems determined to reduce provincial tourism revenue, as they casually cut funding to every inch of nature in BC, all while increasing taxation for British Columbians.

As we wrapped up, he concluded;
When you give with one hand … and take a two and a half million dollar hit to Tourism, Culture and Arts with the other hand … and then cut back on BC Parks … these guys are in economic folly right now”.

“They’re trying to convince British Columbians that we’re in good shape, but the only stream of revenue that John Horgan and his BC NDP is continually taxing the people of British Columbia”.


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