HALIFAX — The Nova Scotia government says it guaranteed nearly $35 million in loans to major tourism operators in the province struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Announced last October, the Tourism Sector Financing Assistance Program provides eligible resort and tour operators access to low-cost debt financing such as lines of credit or term loans issued by a chartered bank.
The province says Ambassatours Gray Line and Murphy's on the Water can access up to $11 million under the program, and Cabot Links can receive up to $14.25 million and Coach Atlantic up to $9.5 million.
Minister of Inclusive Economic Growth Labi Kousoulis says in a news release the program fills a gap because the larger operators were not eligible for federal aid programs.
Eligible businesses must have annual revenues of at least $10 million, employ at least 100 people, and have experienced revenue decline of at least 50 per cent between April 1 and July 30, 2020, compared to the same period the previous year.
The Nova Scotia COVID-19 Response Council fund will guarantee up to 95 per cent of the amount borrowed, and the interest rate cannot exceed prime lending rate plus 1.5 per cent.
Dennis Campbell, chief executive officer of Ambassatours Gray Line and Murphy's on the Water, said in Monday's news release the loan financing would mean "zero cost" to taxpayers and "significant benefit over time."
"I am willing to bet my career and reputation that this program will not cost taxpayers one dollar because the companies that were chosen were pre-COVID strong and were meticulously vetted by (Nova Scotia COVID-19 Response Council) and our banks," Campbell said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 19, 2021.
The Canadian Press