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The Nova Scotia government is offering $50-million in loan guarantees for the province’s larger tourism operators struggling to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program will provide eligible operators access to debt financing, such as lines of credit or term loans issued by a chartered bank or the Business Development Bank of Canada, at more favourable terms.

Eligible businesses must have annual revenues of at least $10-million and employ at least 100 people, while having experienced revenue decline of at least 50 per cent between April 1 and July 30, compared to the same period last year.

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They include resorts and tour operators.

In March, the province also provided $50-million to support businesses that closed as a result of public health orders.

Under the tourism program, the amount of debt cannot exceed $15-million per applicant, and the province will guarantee up to 95 per cent of the amount borrowed.

The interest rate cannot exceed the prime lending rate plus 1.5 per cent.

“COVID-19 restrictions have hit the industry hard,” Business Minister Geoff MacLellan said in a news release Friday, adding that in helping larger businesses, smaller operators would also benefit either directly or indirectly.

The program will be administered by the Nova Scotia COVID-19 Response Council at Dalhousie University.

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