Voice of the BC Tourism Industry



Tuesday, November 12 - Kelowna

Note - AGM will be held in conjunction with the International Indigenous Tourism Conference
August 8, 2019
CEO's Message

Imagine you’re an established restaurant owner that over the years has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in infrastructure, equipment, and supplies. Layer in monthly expenses for labour, training, rent, marketing, taxes, insurance and other fixed costs, it literally took years for you to realize a return on investment, especially given the relatively low margins in this highly regulated sector.

One day, a private homeowner down the street uses a universal app to attract hungry patrons from across the city to his pop-up diner to serve essentially the same food as you’re serving. Night after night until the wee hours of the morning, diners flock to this new ‘ eatery’ because the food and personal service are decent, the atmosphere less formal, and the prices slightly or well below what you’re able to offer.

The pop-up proprietor fancies himself as a chef but has no formal training, Serving it Right or Food Safe certifications, business license, or commercial insurance, nor is his home zoned for commercial purposes or regularly inspected. Yet, it appears he’s essentially given carte blanche to do whatever he wants while you’re left with all the same costs and restrictions as any licensed business, not to mention a dwindling customer base.

As a veteran restaurateur, you accept that consumers desire other options, but remain concerned that you can no longer compete because of the legal obligations you’re bound by under city and provincial regulations. Although competition is inevitable and even welcome at times to spur innovation and continual improvement, in this case you have no choice but to either tolerate the rogue operator, shutter your restaurant, or lobby for changes that allow for both types of dining formats to exist on a relatively even playing field.

Sound familiar? That’s because this scenario is similar to the one being played out by ride-hailing proponents and the commercial passenger transportation sector, specifically the taxi industry. While one is bound by extensive regulations and expensive entry and operating costs, the other is seeking to operate with little or no restrictions under the guise of consumer demand in today’s gig economy. At the very least, that appears to be the goal of transportation network companies (TNCs) who manage ride hailing services.

Let’s pause for a minute to consider other actual tourism examples for the sake of argument. Thanks to technology and the proliferation of apps, one can find and book services online for unlicensed, uncertified, and underinsured fishing guides, boat charters, whale-watching excursions, accommodation, or any number of ‘experiences’.

Many people fall for slick marketing by ‘legitimate tech platforms’ and getting a better deal…which seems fine until something goes awry like the house burning down or the boat sinking. Unfortunately, without consumer protection in the form of regulation, there is little or no recourse to recover the damages in these rare but real scenarios.

Back to the restaurant analogy…allow me to pose a few questions. Is the pop-up diner a commercial operation (i.e. defined by a consumer paying an individual or entity for delivering a service)? Should it be bound by similar regulations as the neighbouring business? Why or why not? Can both exist and thrive? If so, how? Should extensive regulations applied to restaurants be relaxed? Should anyone, anywhere be allowed to operate an in-home, pop-up, unregulated diner?

To be sure, there are many other questions like these that can be applied to multiple scenarios within the sharing economy.

As for ride hailing, the big question for TIABC has always revolved around how, not if, both TNCs and traditional commercial passenger transportation providers can co-exist in British Columbia. To that end, what are the primary factors to consider?

For starters, we know that consumers like and want ride hailing. Among other reasons, it’s convenient, provides quick access to services, is typically more affordable, has transparent advance payment options so passengers know how much they’ll be charged, and a ratings system that works for both drivers and customers.

At the same time, we’re keenly aware that ride hailing raises many legitimate concerns. For example, passenger safety, as well as driver experience and training; inadequate insurance coverage for drivers, passengers and third parties; variable demand pricing that exponentially increases rates during peak times; and increased traffic congestion as more commuters forego public transit.

In the context of these pros and cons, the debate revolves around whether TNCs should be given a clear and easy path to enter the commercial passenger transportation sector without applying similar regulations to those of existing providers. Based on the restaurant analogy, the short answer is no.

Conversely, should we change some of the regulations for taxis to allow them to continue to operate in this evolving transportation sector? The short answer is yes. And it's why TIABC has called for extensive changes to regulations governing the taxi industry, as well as other passenger transportation services in British Columbia. It stands to reason that applying certain regulations to TNCs while eliminating others for taxis is one way to somewhat level the playing field to allow both services to thrive. 

The BC government has been taking its fair share of criticism for introducing ride hailing regulations that they believe make both taxis and TNCs viable. Unlike some of our tourism industry counterparts, TIABC supports government’s well thought-out rules to maintain the safety and security of all stakeholders. Regulations are put in place to protect consumers, industry sectors and individual businesses…sometimes even from each other. At the same time, we subscribe to the notion of avoiding onerous regulations. Generally speaking, less is more…but not always, and particularly not for ride hailing.

The introduction of ride hailing regulations was long overdue. But in our view, taking the time to study new data, conduct extensive consultation, and review the best and worst implementation examples from all over the world, has allowed BC to unveil the right framework for TNCs to co-exist with taxis for the benefit of residents, workers, businesses, and visitors.

We anticipate that we’re a few months from seeing regulated ride hailing officially rolled out in British Columbia. Those who wish to supplement or augment their income by driving passengers from one point to another will do so by overcoming the sky is falling barriers and submitting to regulations such as a Class 4 license…the same minimum standard as other commercial passenger drivers.

In the meantime, as witnessed all over the world, TNCs will likely continue to fight to eliminate so-called barriers to entry while also attempting to avoid regulations and taxes. Then once established, they’ll endeavour to squeeze out established commercial operators by undercutting rates and flooding the market with drivers whose incomes are temporarily supplemented by the TNCs themselves until investors tire of losing billions of dollars annually.

Many ride-hailing proponents want to simply hand the proverbial keys to commercial passenger transportation services to TNCs regardless of the implications or the cost. Fortunately, it appears we're avoiding mistakes other jurisdictions have made that didn't bother to apply the regulation rigour that BC has.

If you take nothing away from this message, please hear this: Even though the BC hotel and taxi sectors are valued members of TIABC and we advocate for their interests, we are not against ride hailing or short-term vacation rentals. Nor are we adversaries to the technology platforms that promote these services. We are, however, opposed to some of their business practices, especially given the absence of regulations.

In my view, no company in the tourism space should get a free pass to conduct business here to the detriment of the regulated sectors and businesses whose billions of dollars in investment have literally paved the path for these services to set up shop here.

Regulated ride-hailing makes sense. Let's get moving.

Walt Judas
TIABC Call for Board Nominations
**Closes September 27th**

TIABC is seeking six candidates for its Board of Directors for the 2019 - 2021 (2-year) term:

  • DMO category - one (1) candidate
  • Sector Association category - two (2) candidates
  • Business Membership category - two (2) candidates

As per the bylaws, the Tourism Industry Association of BC requests that all nominations from members be received 45 days prior to the Annual General Meeting. All nominations for director positions therefore, must be received on or before September 27, 2019.

Elections will take place at the TIABC AGM on November 12th in Kelowna.

The TIABC Board Nomination form can be downloade here  
or visit our website: www.tiabc.ca/2019-agm

Budget 2020 Consultation

In June, TIABC participated in the 2020 budget consultation process and presented some of industry's priorities to government.

The Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services released their unanimous report from input received by groups and individuals, and it includes a recommendation for tourism. The report is available at:  www.leg.bc.ca/cmt/finance
In total, the Committee heard 276 presentations, received 496 written submissions and 452 responses to the online survey. The input British Columbians provided during the consultation informed the Committee’s 106 recommendations.


Following the BC Day long weekend, an exciting milestone for BC’s tourism industry was reached: Five million uses of the #exploreBC hashtag!

Help share the news:
Labour Shortages

In response to the increasing tourism labour shortages in the region, the Kootenay Rockies Tourism (KRT) Board of Directors has taken on an advocacy role and written a letter to Honorable Melanie Joly, Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie.

The goal of this letter is to raise awareness on the impacts of tourism labour shortages in BC (that were evaluated at over $1B in 2016) and to request more consideration for small rural tourism destinations in the amendment of key federal immigration policies, particularly the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and the Australian Work-Holiday Visa.
KRT's letter can be downloaded here .

go2HR's BC Tourism Human Resources Strategy 2019 Released

go2HR, BC’s tourism human resource association, recently released the BC Tourism Human Resources Strategy 2019. The document covers the industry’s job growth projections up to 2028, workforce challenges facing the industry, and the strategies and activities needed to recruit, retain and train the workers required to meet the labour needs.

Federal Election Toolkit

The Tourism Industry of Canada has gathered stats, facts and tools to help us make travel & tourism a priority in this year's federal election. Visit the TIAC website for more information on the Federal Tourism Platform, Tourism Fast Facts, The Issues, and suggested social messaging/posts. TIABC will be producing its own election toolkit in the coming weeks.
#TourismMatters #Elxn43
BC Wine Industry Update

The BC Government has amended its laws to remove the current restriction that allowed a limited number of grocery store licences to sell only BC wine. The new policy now brings BC into technical compliance with the conditions required under the USMCA side letter and is an important step in ratification and the sidelining of a US WTO action against Canada.

The Ontario Provincial Government has brought in new liquor regulations to replace the June 2019 federal reforms that removed the 91 year-old federal prohibition on the interprovincial shipment of alcohol. Until now, Ontario’s provincial laws did not specifically address the importation of alcohol into that province, relying on the now defunct federal regulation. The new provincial regulation closes the loophole created with the removal of the federal prohibition to continue to make it illegal for Ontario consumers to import wine directly from wineries in other provinces and subject to the same penalties as previously. The CVA notes this the new provision is scheduled to be repealed on January 1, 2020. Presumably, and hopefully, giving Ontario time to work with the other provinces to put in place changes or systems to allow for direct-to-consumer shipping that industry has been advocating for some time.

For a full BC Wine Institute update, visit:
A Tribute to Harry McWatters

The BC Wine Industry is deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Harry McWatters. Harry was a true British Columbia wine pioneer, whose influence has been momentous in the evolution of the industry.

With vision and confidence, Harry was a driving force in the British Columbia wine industry for more than 50 years. In 1980, Harry founded British Columbia’s first estate winery, Sumac Ridge, where he later produced the first British Columbia sparkling wine made by the classical method (Steller’s Jay Cuvee 1987). He was also a pioneer in establishing the Okanagan Wine Festival Society.

In 1990, Harry was appointed as Founding Chair of the newly-formed British Columbia Wine Institute where he played an instrumental role in establishing BC VQA – laying the groundwork for detailing and maintaining high standards of quality and transparency for the BC Wine Industry. Harry remained Chair of the BCWI Board until 1997 and continued as a Director through 2007.

Harry was also the Founding Chair of Vintners Quality Alliance of Canada, founding Chair of the British Columbia Wine Information Society, founding Chair of the British Columbia Hospitality Foundation, and a long-term Director on the Canadian Vintners Association.
Wildfire Update

The Eagle Bluff Fire is active approximately 10 km southeast of Okanagan Falls. BC Wildfire Service has recommended an evacuation alert to the Regional District of the Okanagan-Similkameen for electorial area C and to the Osoyoos Indian Band. 

More more information on wildfires of note in BC, please visit:
Wildfire Preparedness Guide

A new Wildfire Preparedness Guide was created in partnership with BC FireSmart and the Office of the Fire Commissioner. 

Many wildfires in BC occur far from cities and towns, but sometimes they threaten homes, businesses and vital infrastructure. Help keep your family safe by knowing what to do   before during  and  after  a wildfire. You should also develop your  emergency plan , put together your   grab-and go-bags  and know the difference between an evacuation  alert  and  order

Check out the new guide for lots of great information:
Transportation Survey

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is conducting a survey regarding the services that it provides.

The survey is divided into two parts: the first six questions ask about customer service; that is, any contact you may have had with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure in the last 12 months (whether it was person-to-person or electronic). The second group of questions asks for your feedback on the quality of service this Ministry provides to keep the provincial highway system safe and reliable.

The survey will take approximately 10 minutes.
Tourism By The Numbers
International visitor arrivals to BC increased 6.2% in May 2019 compared to May 2018. The increase was driven by strong growth from the US (up 6.0%), Asia-Pacific (up 8.3%), and Europe (up 8.8%)
The   Kelowna Creative Sector Economic Impact Study , conducted and presented by Vann Struth Consulting, states that the sector has more than doubled in size from 2009 to 2018. Additionally, the study found that 1.5 million people per year, or just over 4,000 people per day on average, attend some type of cultural facility or event in Kelowna. Though the scope of the study did not include related tourism impacts, the consultant did extrapolate survey responses and estimated that 30% of public attendees at creative sector facilities and events are tourists. The report further suggests that the Kelowna creative sector supports $40 million of tourist spending.
For the City of Kelowna press release,   click here .  
Gray Line Westcoast Sightseeing Launches Clean-Energy Buses
As a major step in transitioning to all zero-emission, electric vehicles, Gray Line Westcoast Sightseeing, Vancouver’s largest sightseeing operator, has just received the first two electric buses it ordered from BYD, the world’s largest manufacturer of electric vehicles.
Download the press release here
YYJ to Open First Truly Accessible Washroom
Changing Places washrooms are expensive and require more space. When the Victoria Airport Authority was approached about including one in their expansion project, they said yes on the spot.
New 2019 Salish Pass for BC Residents
V2V Vacations is offering a new 2019 Salish Pass for BC residents. Experience four, one-way sailings for $299 and an additional 50% off Royal & Premium Class sailings for the remainder of the 2019 season.
YVR Pilots Private Nursing Pod
YVR recently announced that they are piloting their first Mamava pod in the terminal for private breastfeeding and pumping. This new pod offers a safe, clean, comfortable and private option for anyone who wants to nurse their little ones.
Aerial Adventure Parks Opens in Revelstoke
Revelstoke Mountain Resort has officially opened its newest summer attraction, an aerial adventure park. Guests can now reach new heights on this four story ropes course located at the base of the resort.
2019 TIAC Congress

Under the theme “Driving the Visitor Economy-Together”, this year's TIAC Congress features a line-up of valued experts and innovative panels.

Earlybird registration ends September 6, 2019
Upcoming Industry Events
September 23-27, Vancouver

September 25, Cranbrook

October 2-4, Whistler

October 3-4, Prince George

October 8-10, Nanaimo

October 20-21, Vancouver

October 23-24, Nanaimo

October 24, 2019, Courtenay

November 1-3, Barkerville

November 12-14, Kelowna

November 19-20, Ottawa

January 19-22, 2020, Victoria

March 4-6, 2020, Victoria

April 28-30, 2020, Whistler

Send us your event listings and we can include it on our list!
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