B.C’s auditor general says the province’s COVID-19 support program for the devastated tourism industry followed most required guidelines, though he raised some concerns about the way it was documented and monitored.
Michael Pickup says there were “minor inconsistencies” with the otherwise well designed and implemented destination development grant program that handed out more than $41 million in 2021 and 2022.
He says in his report released Tuesday that the grant came at a time when nearly two-thirds of people in the tourism industry lost their jobs in 2020 and was launched under a compressed timeline, raising the risk of applications being inconsistently assessed.
Pickup says 12 of the 106 projects that received money were missing notes from reviewers detailing the rationale for their decision and while due diligence was done, it wasn’t well defined.
He found some issues with how the program was monitored because the required progress reports didn’t have details of how much money had been spent, meaning if a project was delayed, the government wouldn’t have that information.
Pickup made four recommendations that have been accepted by the Tourism Ministry, including a call for a formal due diligence process, that staff document their rationale for decisions on funding and that improvements are made to the monitoring system.