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Keeping visitors to northern B.C. safe during emergencies

Real-time information sharing during emergencies is one of the tools being developed to keep visitors to northern British Columbia safer this summer.

“The last two summers of unprecedented wildfires were hard on tourism-dependent communities,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, in a news release. “We know that one of the biggest challenges the industry faced was getting accurate, up-to-date information to visitors. This year, we’re helping the tourism sector prepare to keep visitors safe during emergencies and making sure tourism in affected areas can rebound quickly.”

The B.C. government is providing a total of $200,000 in one-time grants to support regional destination marketing organizations’ emergency preparedness, including $25,000 to the Northern BC Tourism Association.

“Timely, accurate information is essential in emergencies,” said Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness. “The tourism sector can play a critical role in keeping people safe, especially in rural and remote areas. This investment is helping the industry plan ahead so people can get the information they need, when they need it, keeping visitors safe and local economies strong.”

The regional destination marketing organizations will use this funding to create a common set of communications tools, emergency management training for regional teams and co-ordinators, and expand their tourism database to enable real-time information sharing in the event of an emergency. Together, these activities will help mitigate the effects of natural disasters on B.C.’s tourism reputation through better preparedness, co-ordination and communication.

“Natural disasters, including wildfires and flooding, continue to have an impact on the visitor economy in northern B.C. and around the province,” said Clint Fraser, CEO, Northern BC Tourism and Film Office. “This funding will assist the Northern BC Tourism Association in developing resources and tools to support the tourism industry in preparing for and managing emergencies. We’re grateful for this financial support provided by Minister Beare and the B.C. government.”

The government announced the grants as part of B.C. Tourism Week, May 26-June 2, 2019, which highlights the industry’s vital importance to B.C.’s economy by creating jobs, strengthening communities and promoting year-round tourism in all four corners of the province.