Jody Young

Jody Young

Tourism draws full house

It was a full house for a tourism workshop held last week.

It was a full house for a tourism workshop held last week.

Destination British Columbia held a one-day workshop, designed for communities in the early stages of tourism development, at the Community Futures Mount Waddington office in Port McNeill March 31.

“We had a great turn-out. We had 31 people” with representation from the entire region, said Vancouver Island North Tourism Coordinator Joli White.

The workshop was facilitated by Susan Rybar of Vardo Creative Inc.  Vardo is a senior business professional who brings more than 20 years of marketing, strategy development and business management experience, including 10 years of direct experience working with the tourism industry in British Columbia. She previously held the positions of Assistant Deputy Minister, Tourism Partnerships for the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation and Vice President, Visitor Experience for Tourism British Columbia where she has held responsibility for 56 employees and $20 million budget administration.

The workshop included a brief overview of Destination British Columbia and the Community Tourism Foundations program, including the role of Tourism Vancouver Island; a review of opportunities to work with Tourism Vancouver Island as an agent of Destination BC; a review of current market trends, including characteristics of existing visitor markets, and the local tourism planning context in Vancouver Island North; discussion of roles and responsibilities for tourism activities within the community; a review of existing local tourism planning materials and initiatives and their potential to be used as a framework for moving forward; identifying strengths and opportunities within the tourism industry in Vancouver Island North and areas of concern; defining tourism objectives and opportunities for the next year; and, determining appropriate next steps in Vancouver Island North’s tourism development.

“The whole goal was to come up with planning priorities for regional tourism,” said White, looking specifically at the next two years.

Rybar will take all of the information that they gathered and put together a report which will be released in about six weeks, said White.

There will be an opportunity to provide feedback or make changes.

Then a final document will be released that “we can work with for the next couple of years,” said White.

“The consultant appeared to be focused primarily on creating a plan that promotes our region to the organized travel trade market through the avenues of Tourism Vancouver Island, Destination BC, and the Canadian Tourism Commission, said Port Hardy Chamber Interim Executive Director Angela Smith.

These organizations are the primary producers and distributors of print media promoting British Columbia.

Currently, 62 per cent of the marketing budget controlled by Vancouver Island North Tourism is expended on print media  and 18 per cent of VINT’s budget goes towards online marketing, Smith said.

“We support local newspapers, however  in the formulation of any new plans, the Port Hardy Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Centre is extremely interested in seeing an increase in online marketing over print media marketing expenditures.  The Port Hardy Chamber of Commerce applauds any increased engagement in the online sector, for both the progressive nature of the initiative and the documented return on investment for all businesses involved, Smith said.

“We continue to note the excellent work from Joli White in the promotion of the North Island in the traditional travel trade market, and feel that our regional marketing representative is doing an excellent job within the current structure,” said Smith.