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Coquitlam-based agency receiving slice of $36.5M fund to revitalize B.C.'s tourism sector

OCK Tour Ltd. is one of 83 bus companies and major attractions in hopes it can help them recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
OCK Tour Ltd. Coquitlam - Google Street View
OCK Tour Ltd. is a travel agency based in Coquitlam.

A travel agency based in Coquitlam has been selected to help bring B.C.'s tourism sector back to life.

In hopes of reducing the impacts the COVID-19 pandemic brought on the industry the last 16 months, the provincial government unveiled $36.5 million in funding for 83 major attractions and bus companies today (July 23).

Among the recipients includes OCK Tour Ltd., a Coquitlam company that offers residents with bus trips to places like Whistler, Victoria, the Rocky Mountains and others.

It's the only company or attraction representing the Tri-Cities in the announcement.

OCK Tour's slice of the pie — like the rest of the recipients — was not publicly released with the province citing confidentiality of business information.

However, the province explains tour bus companies that serve 30,000 or more passengers per year, were eligible for grants up to $500,000.

“People and businesses within the tourism industry have been one of the most impacted sectors in our province throughout the pandemic,” said Coquitlam-Maillardville MLA Selina Robinson in a statement.

“We’re providing funding to major anchor attractions and tour bus companies so they’re able to make a strong recovery from the pandemic and continue to draw people to B.C. so they can experience what our province has to offer.”

Robinson added the investment is set to grow the local economy, create jobs and support those already working in the tourism sector.

The province says the money will be earmarked for rent and utilities, payroll and costs related to restarting or ramping up operations.

“These are grants, not loans,” said B.C.'s tourism minister Melanie Mark at the funding distribution's official announcement at the Richmond Night Market on Friday.

“They will be available to places like the night market, to help pay for rent, utilities or payroll. Organizations can use the funding to ramp up their operations as the province continues to reopen.”

Major attractions in urban centres with 75,000 or more visitors a year were eligible for grants of up to $1 million, while major attractions in rural areas that receive more than 15,000 or more visitors a year were eligible for up to $500,000.

The announcement comes as B.C. is in Step Three of its COVID-19 restart plan and just days after a provincial state of emergency was declared due to wildfires. 

- with files from Kirsten Clarke, Richmond News