The B.C. government has announced over $10 million in funding for resort-oriented municipalities across British Columbia, and both the District of Invermere and the Village of Radium Hot Springs are due to receive well over $100,000 to help support tourism infrastructure and programming.
“Our government recognizes how important a role resort municipalities play in the economic prosperity of our province,” said Minister of Jobs, Tourism, and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour Pat Bell in a release. “This initiative provides local governments with the financial certainty to facilitate a great visitor experience and ensure visitors will return.”
The funding comes from the provincial Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI), which has invested $61.7 million since 2007 in the 14 municipalities that are a part of the program, which includes Fernie, Golden, Harrison Hot Springs, Kimberley, Osoyoos, Revelstoke, Rossland, Sun Peaks, Tofino, Ucluelet, Valemount, Whistler, Invermere and Radium Hot Springs. Out of the additional $10 million in funding, which was announced on December 18, Invermere will receive $186,410 while Radium will receive $115,532.
The program is incentive-based, with funding based on accommodation revenues from the previous year of business. Accommodation revenues from Panorama are also added to Invermere’s funding each year.
In Invermere, potential projects include replacing the Invermere sign at the crossroads, beach improvements, shuttle services, and increasing pedestrian linkages. District of Invermere Mayor Gerry Taft said that past funds received from the RMI have helped pay for the Kinsmen amenity building and improved the Panorama shuttle bus.
“It’s a really great program, we’re really grateful to the province for having it and continuing it,” Taft said. “It basically recognizes the additional services that resort municipalities and communities have to provide when they have a lot of cases of a smaller tax base.”
In Radium, the funds could potentially be used for local event and festival development, beautification projects and sidewalk connections to the hot pools.
“It’s fantastic, we’re very, very pleased,” Village of Radium Hot Springs mayor Dee Conklin said.
The province of B.C. has identified tourism as a key economic sector, and its new tourism strategy provides a framework for government and industry to attract more visitors. The strategy also focuses on increasing the number of visitors by building on the global awareness generated by the 2010 Winter Games and international marketing campaigns. In 2010, the tourism sector employed 127,000 British Columbians, generated over $13.4 billion in revenue for tourism-related businesses and contributed over $1.2 billion to provincial government revenues. Total tourism wages and salaries were $4.4 billion in 2010, an increase of 37 per cent since 2000.