The Yukon government is extending some COVID-19 relief programs for tourism businesses until March 2022, including a popular rebate program for locals to explore the territory.
Yukon tourism minister Ranj Pillai said that while other areas of Yukon's economy are rebounding, the tourism industry is recovering more slowly.
"While border restrictions have been lifted, travel is still far from returning to normal and it is clear that this year's winter tourism season will be very difficult for tourism operators," said Pillai.
"We will continue to invest in tourism industry relief and recovery to ensure that our tourism assets, accommodations, experiences and communities remain viable and sustainable for recovery."
The relief programs — the Tourism Accommodation Sector Supplement (TASS), the Tourism Non-Accommodation Sector Supplement (TNASS) and the Great Yukon Summer Travel Rebate — were set to end on Sept. 30, but are now extended to March 31, 2022.
TASS provides accommodation businesses, like hotels, with a $400 supplement per room each month, up to the point of break even. Pillai said there are currently 24 Yukon businesses with TASS agreements.
Yukon businesses that rely on visitors for at least 60 per cent of their revenues are eligible for the TNASS program. These businesses can receive up to $60,000 to cover eligible expenses up to the point of break even. There are 69 Yukon businesses with TNASS agreements.
The third program being extended is the popular Great Yukon Summer initiative, which aims to encourage Yukoners to vacation in the territory. The program provides a 25 per cent rebate on Yukon tourism packages.
"The response to the Great Yukon Summer campaign has been fantastic," said Pillai. "We have 165 new and innovative tour packages that have been developed and Yukoners have been able to explore their own backyard like never before, all the while supporting local businesses."
Pillai said Yukoners have spent more than $1 million on local tourism businesses.
Two other COVID-19 relief programs will end on Sept. 30 as previously scheduled. They are the Yukon Business Relief Program and the COVID-19 liquor licensee discount.
In a Friday news release, the territorial government said many businesses currently enrolled in the Yukon Business Relief Program may still be eligible for support through TNASS and should contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.