Chris Steunenberg, owner of Splashdown Vernon water park, is preparing for the first day of opening July 18, 2020. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)

3 Vernon attractions get provincial boost for COVID-19 recovery

Science centre, Splashdown among recipients of province’s $36M funding to bolster tourism

Three Vernon area attractions are receiving some funding from the B.C. government as part of its promised $50 million aid for anchor tourist attractions to help recover from COVID-19.

The province distributed $36.5 million of its promised total Friday, July 24, to 83 attractions across B.C., and Vernon-Monashee MLA Harwinder Sandhu said this support is welcome.

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“The North Okanagan is renowned for its natural beauty and welcoming environment,” Sandhu said. “The pandemic made it difficult to welcome visitors so that they could enjoy what we have to offer. We’re supporting local tourism operators so that as we welcome back people from across the province and country, and when it’s safe, the world, we can showcase our extraordinary region once again.”

Splashdown Vernon, the Okanagan Science Centre and A1 Bus Ltd. are among the 83 recipients.

The funds may be used to help cover costs of rent, utilities, payroll and other costs associated with restarting or ramping up operations.

The science centre’s executive director Dion Chambers said the Vernon community staple of more than 30 years is grateful to be a recipient, especially after seeing an 80 per cent dip in attendance last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are excited to apply this funding to cover the operational costs of the building while continuing to expand the exhibits for when tourists can safely return to the Okanagan,” Chambers said.

“We want to thank the provincial government for recognizing rural tourism attractions and the economic benefit to the local community.”

Sandhu said she is glad that people in the riding will benefit from this funding, as it will not only support people working in tourism but also help grow the local economy into the future.

READ MORE: B.C. COVID-19 fund supports 83 tourist attractions, bus companies

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