By Tom Fletcher
Three years after the B.C. government took over international tourism marketing to direct post-Olympic efforts, Premier Christy Clark has put the tourism industry back in the driver’s seat.
Clark and Jobs, Tourism and Innovation Minister Pat Bell announced the creation of a new Crown corporation Monday in Vancouver. They said Destination BC will be industry led and have formula funding from provincial taxpayers to advertise the province’s attractions outside the country.
Clark said she spoke out as a radio host against the government takeover when it was announced in 2009 by former tourism minister Kevin Krueger. The Council of Tourism Associations expressed “grave concerns” at the time, when the industry-led Tourism BC was disbanded.
Bell said Destination BC will have an increasing emphasis on marketing in Asia, especially China and India. It is to take over responsibility April 1, 2013, using currently budgeted funds for the first year. After that, the intention is to base the budget on a legislated percentage of annual sales revenue.
Clark and Bell took the first step to changing tourism marketing in October 2011, with a $1.1 million campaign to promote B.C. ski resorts. Half the spending went to Ontario, and the rest was split between Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
B.C. has long targeted those markets, but ads focused on promoting the province generically with “Super Natural B.C.” promotions that did not emphasise specific attractions or activities.
NDP leader Adrian Dix tried to pre-empt the expected announcement last week, making his own promise that an NDP government would return control over tourism marketing to the industry.
BC Chamber applauds changes
By Aaron Orlando
The BC Chamber of Commerce had lobbied for the changes and reacted positively to the announcement. Chamber president and CEO John Winter welcomed the news with a statement:
“Destination BC will ensure that the marketing of B.C.’s tourism sector will be lead by tourism professionals in the private sector, in combination with protected funding from the B.C. Legislature,” he said. “The funding model and sector-based leadership of this new Crown corporation flow directly from policy of the BC Chamber of Commerce.”
Winter added the changes will create a predictable environment in which regional destination marketing organizations can operate.
“The BC Government and the tourism sector should be commended for working together to create a model that will move the industry forward,” he said.
Revelstoke Chamber director applauds change
By Aaron Orlando
Revelstoke Chamber of Commerce executive director Judy Goodman said the change will be positive for Revelstoke.
“Having a regional industry board means that people will recognize Revelstoke for its uniqueness and hopefully we will benefit from that,” Goodman told the Times Review.
She said a regional board will have a better understanding of our unique tourism marketing needs. Another benefit is the ability to work with people they know on the board, as opposed to government officials.
She noted the umbrella government ministry has shifted through five ministers in the past five years.
The biggest improvement, Goodman said, is the move to long-term budget planning, hopefully in three- or five-year plans. Currently, they budget on an annual basis, often completing their own budget before funding levels have been confirmed.
“It might help us plan our markets,” she said.
Goodman said she’s happy being under the umbrella of Kootenay Rockies Tourism and hopes the arrangement will stay the same. “I think what they’re trying to get back to is community and regional destination tourism marketing,” she said.
The premier’s announcement came at an ongoing Host BC conference in Vancouver. Goodman is travelling there on Nov. 7 and hoped to learn more about the changes.