B.C. tourism marketing goes regional

Destination British Columbia will co-ordinate tourism markets

Destination British Columbia (Destination BC) is preparing to launch its new Tourism Marketing Committee, with up to three representatives from each of the six tourism regions in the province.

In a landmark move, tourism leaders have pursued since Tourism BC was dissolved in 2009, Destination BC was created in November, with the province’s tourism budget and staff transferred on April 1.

With the helm back in the hands of the industry, this Provincial Destination Marketing Organization (PDMO) will now control some significant funding ($48.87 million in 2013).

The committee is being formed to provide greater accountability to tourism stakeholders.

Each Regional Destination Marketing Organization (RDMO) has nominated several people in their respective regions to sit on the committee, as well as appointing two people to help narrow down these selections before submitting the final three nominees to the Destination BC board for approval.

Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association (CCCTA) chair Pat Corbett says the local RDMO put the word out for suitable nominees before selecting five potential committee members.

“The creation of this marketing committee is the highlight of the Destination BC business model.”

The task of these dozen people in the selection group is underway now, and he notes it will soon determine who will be the committee representatives.

A big reason why this committee is so important across the province is that it offers “a great, fresh view” on how to co-ordinate tourism markets, Corbett adds.

However, he explains it is also crucial locally, as the funding for tourism marketing is not equal across all regions. A two per cent hotel tax creates a big influx of cash for the industry in about 50 B.C. cities, such as Prince George and Kamloops, that collect it, and he notes it probably amounts to close to the whole Destination BC budget.

A tourism board in one of these larger cities typically has a dozen people on it, a CEO and a staffed office, Corbett says, adding this infrastructure eats up plenty of funding that isn’t going directly into the tourism marketplace.

However, many municipalities, such as 100 Mile House and Williams Lake, don’t collect that hotel tax, so they must attempt to fund tourism initiatives in taxpayers’ dollars from a small-town purse.

He explains the marketing committee is all about getting more bang for the buck by combining efforts in a cross-regional focus, as well as avoiding duplication of efforts.

Corbett says putting forward four or five candidates in each region helps avoid redundancy in the backgrounds and fields of each to form a diverse committee with a wide range of experience.

The five individuals put forward by the CCCTA are “all good people,” he adds.

A lot of groundwork had been done on the candidate selection criteria, which Corbett notes really helped in determining eligibility.

“One of the biggest challenges of the future marketing committee will be to bring about greater integration of community, provincial and regional tourism marketing efforts.”

The committee will also include the Destination BC CEO (still being recruited) and two board members.

Another much-lauded benefit of the industry-led Destination BC is its funding mechanism will be converted to a portion of annual sales tax, to allow the PDMO to grow its budget based on superior tourism marketing.

For more information about Destination British Columbia’s programs and services, visit www.DestinationBC.ca.