The 5th annual North Island Tourism Season Launch Event was held at the Chilton Regional Arena in Port McNeill April 30.
Jody Young, Industry and Community Services, with Tourism Vancouver Island, was one of the guest speakers at the event that was attended by about 30 people representing local municipal governments and tourism industry stakeholders.
Young’s presentation covered the value of tourism; and the roles of tourism businesses, industry organizations and government agencies in growing the industry and working together to ensure its continued vitality and success.
Young said tourism is everybody’s business, because it creates new jobs, puts money into the local economy, generates new investment and attracts new residents. Tourism helps build attractive and livable communities by promoting the culture, heritage, environment, and social well-being enjoyed by regional residents through increased services, attractions and recreational opportunities.
It also boosts community pride and attracts quality entrepreneurs.
“Tourism is positively impacting us,” said Young.
British Columbia is the second largest tourist destination in Canada, behind Ontario, and Vancouver Island gets 16.9 per cent of BC’s market share, she said.
Young said according to 2010 statistics, there are 17,943 tourism-related businesses in British Columbia, 77 per cent of them have fewer than 20 employees, and 26 are located in rural regions.
She explained there is a multi-level approach to promoting tourism in Canada.
The Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) markets Canada to 12 key long-haul markets such as Australia, Brazil, Japan, South Korea, China and the United Kingdom.
Destination British Columbia supports the CTC in growing emerging markets. Tourism Vancouver Island focuses on close-in markets such as Washington, the mainland and Alberta.
Without the industry stakeholders, however, “there would not be a tourism industry.”
While there are already “some great partnerships going on”, Young said more needs to be done to develop cooperative marketing programs and build collaborations “so we’re all singing the same song.”
Industry stakeholders need to work together in order to achieve and sustain growth and provide remarkable visitor experiences.
Tourism is a highly-competitive market and she encouraged the audience to partner for the best success.
“It goes beyond selling your own attraction,” she said, adding that stakeholders need to use a media mix in order to get the word out about their business and not just rely on one platform, such as Facebook.
Young said the number one reason people come to the North Island is for the scenic beauty of the area.
However, the North Island has some other distinct advantages.
It is considered Canada’s Asia/Pacific gateway, it offers diverse landscapes and experiences, it has friendly people and great hospitality.
She encouraged the crowd to “be a tourism advocate. Get involved and advocate for tourism where you can” and educate others about the positive impacts of tourism.
“Most of us are tourists first.”