REGINA — On Monday, August 10, the Government of Saskatchewan announced $35 million in support for Saskatchewan’s hard-hit tourism sector. Under the Saskatchewan Tourism Sector Support Program, eligible hospitality and event/attraction operators will be able to apply for a one-time, non-repayable emergency payment. For the accommodation sector and large event facilities, payments will range from $10,000 to $50,000, depending on sales revenue. For attraction, tour or event operators with ongoing fixed costs, payments will range from $7,500 to $15,000. Of the $35 million, $5 million will be used to support marketing and increasing the demand for Saskatchewan tourism experiences.
“We are all painfully aware of the devastating effects of COVID-19 on the tourism and hospitality sector,” Saskatchewan Hotel and Hospitality Association president and CEO Jim Bence said. “With severe reductions in revenues, organizations will be under extreme pressure to find ways to manage their fixed costs and expenses in 2020. We are very pleased with this significant investment in our industry by the government and we much appreciate their continued support and willingness to collaborate with us during this crisis.
“The lion’s share [of the support] is going to hotels and other fixed roof accommodations. It’s huge news,” Bence told CLN.
“Saskatchewan’s tourism industry is critically important to our quality of life and attractiveness as a destination for investment,” Trade and Export Development Minister Jeremy Harrison said. “The Government of Saskatchewan recognizes that the sector’s recovery will take time. This support will provide some immediate relief for accommodation properties, major event facilities and attractions, and will also focus on increasing demand, which will be essential to long-term recovery.”
Tourism in Saskatchewan, Canada and around the world has been brought to a standstill because of unprecedented measures taken to contain the virus. There were nearly 12 million visits to and within Saskatchewan in 2019, with visitor expenditures totalling $2.2 billion. Estimates indicate Saskatchewan’s tourism industry could see a decline of at least $730 million in visitor spending in 2020-21. It may take two or more years for the industry to recover.
“The COVID-19 pandemic delivered a devastating blow to our province’s tourism sector,” Minister Responsible for Tourism Saskatchewan Gene Makowsky said. “The new Saskatchewan Tourism Sector Support Program will provide critically needed support to accommodations, venues, attractions and tourism businesses. The $35 million investment will stimulate the sector’s recovery, build resiliency and help tourism operators continue to deliver remarkable Saskatchewan experiences.”
“On behalf of the board of directors of the Saskatchewan Hotel & Hospitality Association (SHHA), I would like to express our deep appreciation for the creation of this vitally important new program for the tourism industry in Saskatchewan,” Bence said. “The SHHA would like to thank Minister Harrison and Minister Makowsky for the invitation, in those very early days of the pandemic, to engage with them in consultations as to how best manage our way through this crisis and allow us the opportunity to vigorously advocate on behalf of our industry.”
Applications will be accepted starting 2 p.m. on August 24, 2020. Applications will be accepted until October 1, 2020.