It is so interesting to watch how different provinces are responding to COVID-19 to provide direct and indirect support to tourism businesses, complementing the federal programs.
Called the "Explore NB Travel Incentive program" was created to inspire in-province travel by offering New Brunswickers to apply for a 20 percent rebate on eligible expenses (accommodation, food and drink, activities, and travel - ferries, vehicle rental, parking).
Citizens who spend more than $1000 between July 15 and Sept. 30 with a minimum of one paid overnight stay can apply for a $200 rebate.
What do I like about this program from a tourism recovery perspective:
1. It is investment-based and doesn't put pressure on businesses to do more, as they are already struggling with the additional health requirements and multiple challenges from the pandemic.
2. It has an advertised upper limit of claims to $3M, so there is a 'sense of urgency' to get out and travel, claim and be one of the 15,000 benefactors. It will be fascinating to see how many more applications will be received then funds allocated!
3. There is a very clear table explaining what is eligible and what is not.
4. It targets New Brunswickers to keep their vacation dollars in the province. Businesses benefit as the categories of inclusion are broad, and the tax benefits come back to the government. It is a win-win-win scenario.
5. People thinking about travelling in the Altantic bubble may opt to stay at home and explore NB this summer instead, which also could benefit containing the spread of Covid-19 in a province that has done extremely well containing the virus.
6. It directly responds to the summer desire to travel, while showing the tourism industry the government cares.
Congratulations to the Tourism Labour Force Adjustment Committee for their creative thinking approach to stimulating the economy for the benefit of businesses, citizens, and the increased travel will no doubt assist the province through the taxes generated.