As Manitoba's tourism stalls, the province is hoping to help hotels, lodges, and others pay their bills.

Premier Brian Pallister says tourism is a key contributor to the province's economy, but as the pandemic continues and visits to Manitoba have plummeted, the industry is struggling.

"Our tourism industries, our hospitality industries, rely not just on us but also on people coming from outside of Manitoba, and as you know, our neighbours to our south, east, west, and north were not as able or as mobile as they have been in the past and not as able to come to 'Friendly Manitoba' to take advantage of all our province and small business community has to offer," Pallister says in a press conference, announcing a new grant program.

The new Hospitality Relief Sector Program is for hotels and other similar businesses.

The $8-million grant will be given directly to the businesses, as distributed by the Manitoba Hotel Association and the Manitoba Lodges and Outfitters Association to covered fixed costs such as:

• property insurance,
• mortgage interest,
• property taxes,
• land leases,
• service fees,
• maintenance of camps, and
• resource retention costs.

These industries could also be eligible for other government programs.

Over the past year, the Winnipeg Airport Authority has been reporting massive drops in passengers. In its fourth quarter of 2020, passenger traffic dropped 86.6 per cent.

A partnership between the Province of Manitoba and the Manitoba Hotel Association saw hotels volunteer to be part of a program to give isolation spaces for those who were exposed to or have contracted COVID-19, and travellers needing to isolate.

Pallister says they are looking at what the summer will look like for travellers, cautious to plan months in advance.