Every Tuesday morning between the months of April and September, I start my day at Britannia ice rink in East Vancouver playing hockey with my pals. For the most part it’s been the same core group for the last 20 years meaning we’re all getting older and slower, not to mention our skills are diminishing.
Aside from the fun, competition and exercise, I most look forward to the dressing room conversations where opinions vary on a wide range of topics typically associated with current events. Contrast that to our younger years when we talked about raising families, building careers, buying homes, vacation plans and sports.
Now it seems our conversations are focussed around the alarming cost of real estate, the escalating price of gas, stifling traffic in Metro Vancouver, flooding in the interior, Trump, and a whole host of other concerns. Given that my job tends to be issue focussed, I’m often asked to weigh in with a point of view. While I’m usually happy to oblige, occasionally I’d rather talk about more encouraging things and today is no exception.
Let me begin by acknowledging two individuals who have made an enormous contribution to TIABC and our industry.
Bruce Okabe is just days away from wrapping up his duties as a Tourism Richmond team member. From his time as BC’s Deputy Minister of Tourism, through to his roles with Travel Alberta, Check-in Canada and most recently, Tourism Richmond's CEO, Bruce has tackled each challenge with passion, integrity, skill and professionalism. He was a valued director of TIABC and more recently, a go-to member of our Policy Committee that always provided terrific insight and guidance no matter the issue. While one can view Bruce’s departure as a loss, I prefer to recognize his achievements and share in his excitement about the next chapter of life.
Patrick Gramiak is stepping down as TIABC’s treasurer and vice-chair, as well as from his role as chair of the BC Lodging and Campground Association because of a new career opportunity outside of tourism. Again, while another loss for industry, Patrick will take his financial expertise to a different organization that will benefit from his experience, positivity, hard work, relationship skills and commitment to get the job done. Fortunately for us, Patrick will remain a member of our Finance Committee.
Well before I joined TIABC, I often heard how dysfunctional our industry was, particularly when it came to addressing issues. As a former boss and industry leader used to say, tourism is viewed as
the gang that can’t shoot straight. In other words, we didn’t play like a team or possess the necessary attributes to win.
While one could argue that we still have room to improve, I’m very encouraged by the collective response to the MRDT issue that has been well documented in this newsletter and by tourism stakeholders all over the province. DMOs, sectors, operators and communities have sent well over a thousand letters and emails, as well as conducted multiple meetings with government to defend the integrity of the highly successful and accountable tourism marketing system.
Seems to me it’s been several years since industry rallied around an issue to this extent. Although there is more work to do, I see very positive progress and a much more cohesive sector, much like a good hockey team where everyone plays a role that leads to victory.
As my aging muscles and wounded pride continue to recover from Tuesday morning’s 4-3 loss, I nonetheless remain energized to compete in whatever form...whether on the ice or on behalf of BC’s visitor economy. If you play sports, you'll know that once you've tasted victory, losing is much harder to swallow. And I for one, hate losing.
Walt Judas, CEO