Jones looked to the Vancouver Island Coastal Tourism Resiliency Program (VICTRP) as a way to help navigate all the information available to him and access the aid that would benefit each company best.
“I found the sheer volume of government announcements somewhat daunting,” said Jones. “Especially considering each business had different needs and while one business qualified for some programs, the other did not.”
The funding he has received so far for Kingfisher Wilderness Adventures, CEBA and CEWS, he had already applied for before registering for VICTRP, but he is now in the process of accessing more funding after learning about additional aid through the program, especially for his new business.
Jones says having one-on-one support from a dedicated VICTRP Program Advisor has been very beneficial and provided a personal touch that was really missing when trying to navigate everything on his own.
“Having someone to talk to who understands the needs of tourism is very beneficial versus other people I had talked to elsewhere who had very little knowledge of the challenges that a seasonal tourism business faces,” Jones explains.
He was also able to meet with a VICTRP Program Expert in Finance and continues to receive ongoing assistance. He says the webinar series has also been very helpful and he appreciates that each presentation is recorded so he can watch them later if one is missed.
“We all have a lot on our plates right now dealing with guest communication, cancellations, meeting WorkSafeBC requirements to safely open, staffing and re-designing our businesses, so the support provided by VICTRP has lessened this burden somewhat,” he concludes.
Jones believes Kingfisher would have survived the COVID-19 crisis, but with the help of VICTRP he is able to better position the company to come out of it stronger and be poised to succeed than had he not participated in the program.
While Kingfisher has had to cancel all of their expedition-style kayak tours this year, they have made some adjustments to their base camp tours to begin offering them again later this summer.
Being a new business, Coastal Rainforest Safaris was much more in question, but with the advice from Program Experts, Jones and his partner have been able to re-imagine the company to allow it to survive this crisis and, hopefully, flourish in the years to come.