FREDERICTON (GNB) – The continuation of the Explore NB program and funding to help the arts and culture sectors recover from the COVID-19 pandemic were among the highlights today as the Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture released its budget estimates.

The department’s 2021-22 budget is increasing by 13.7 per cent, bringing it to more than $61.8 million.

“Our government has identified key priority areas to support our department as we position our province for a lasting recovery,” said Tourism, Heritage and Culture Minister Tammy Scott-Wallace. “We need to continue to work together to help our tourism, heritage and culture sectors as we re-energize our private sector, regain our momentum and create the necessary conditions for growth.”

The Explore NB Travel Incentive Program will be re-offered again this year, with a budget of $4.5 million.

“We are thrilled to offer the Explore NB Travel Incentive Program once again this summer,” said Scott-Wallace. “This program has supported many tourism operators throughout the province by allowing them to stay open and generate revenue during the pandemic.”

To further support the hotel sector and communities, which have been significantly impacted by COVID-19, the following investments will be made this fiscal year:

  • Providing $200,000 to support the return of meetings, conventions and sport tourism to the province.
  • An investment of $350,000 to the Tourism Regional Fund to assist regions in their tourism plans as the province identifies next steps in local governance reform.

Investments in the arts and culture sectors also include:

  • $300,000 for the Arts and Culture recovery and Reactivation Fund to support the recovery of the Arts and Culture sector post-pandemic.
  • Continuation of the Inspired by NB campaign to bring awareness of New Brunswick arts and cultural products through an investment of $150,000.
  • COVID-19 funding for the New Brunswick Museum and Kings Landing at $100,000 and $200,000 respectively, to support their recovery.
  • An $85,000 increase in the New Brunswick Museum’s operating budget.

“Supporting our arts and culture sectors while helping them rebound post-COVID-19 is important to our government,” said Scott-Wallace. “We want to ensure that creative New Brunswickers can continue to connect and inspire us when times are tough and as they improve.”