"Walt buddy, Angelo here". It’s how he started every interview with me over the last three plus years. Angelo Iacobucci was a broadcasting legend who sadly passed away this week at the age of 60.
For some four decades, Angelo’s unique baritone voice could be heard on Kamloops radio station CHNL, as well as in reports he filed for sister stations throughout British Columbia. When I was a young broadcaster over 30 years ago, I regularly used Angelo’s stories in my newscasts.
Aside from being an exceptional reporter, Angelo covered the BC tourism industry more than any other journalist in recent years. He called at least twice a month for my perspective on the latest Statistics Canada visitor numbers, wildfire impacts or any number of topics that affected BC’s visitor economy.
I used to tease Angelo about making me famous in Kamloops and that perhaps he might like to speak to someone else for a change so his listeners wouldn’t get sick of me. But he kept calling, and in recognizing the number, I kept picking up the phone to give him the five or 10-second clips he needed for his story.
You may have never heard of Angelo but rest-assured, as a tourism leader, he probably knew who you were. Aside from the fact that he believed tourism in BC mattered, Angelo was simply a true professional and a good guy. It’s still hard for me to believe I won’t be hearing ‘Walt buddy’ on the other end of the phone anymore. I’ll miss him and so will our industry. TIABC’s condolences go out to his family, colleagues and friends.
Admittedly, moving on to another topic feels awkward at best, yet there is more to say considering this is our final eNews of an eventful 2018. While there is so much to talk about, allow me to reflect on what I learned in recent months speaking to stakeholders around the province about what their businesses have experienced this year.
You may recall that in previous newsletters I referenced Tourism Leaders Forums where I was able to ask business operators about the effects of government policies, interaction with politicians, what industry needs to do together to help solve issues, and what TIABC needs to convey to government on industry’s behalf.
You can thank me now for not downloading pages and pages of notes in this space. However, here is a summary of consistent points I heard that you can likely relate to.
The BC tourism industry must be recognized as one of the province’s top business sectors, and government decisions should reflect its importance and stature;
It is incumbent on industry to help all levels of government connect the dots on how the tourism industry contributes to communities and to British Columbia in multiple ways;
The tourism industry must be very clear about its expectations of government and what priorities it should focus on;
For the benefit of BC's visitor economy and communities throughout the province, government needs to focus its priorities on new product and infrastructure development, as well as industry growth;
Government can play a major role in helping attract new investors to the tourism sector;
Together with various sectors, governments at all levels must find palatable solutions to the tourism industry’s biggest challenges of labour shortages and affordable housing;
A comprehensive strategy to address transportation in all forms (e.g. rail, ferry, vehicle), as well as transportation infrastructure (e.g. highways, airports, terminals) must be developed for all regions of the province to ensure the needs of residents and visitors are met;
Communities throughout the province need a better understanding of reconciliation with Indigenous nations and the ramifications of government and court decisions on the tourism industry;
Given government decisions on files such as impending ‘Species at Risk’ legislation, tourism operators have less confidence about the future of their businesses in some regions of the province;
Land use planning must be prioritized especially considering that secure tenures and use of crown land for tourism experiences seem constantly in peril;
While post-secondary institutions are graduating tourism and hospitality students, many of these young people do not stay in the industry or simply aren’t interested in being the next tourism entrepreneurs;
. Tourism sectors, operators and other stakeholders have in-depth knowledge to offer and a vested interest in environmental sustainability that could be and should be leveraged by decision-makers;
The tourism industry needs to consider developing a succession strategy for retiring operators to ensure their successful tourism businesses remain a part of the industry and not turned over to speculators;
Overall, there needs to be a better understanding by residents and within the business community that tourism jobs can be either a year or a career…preferably the latter; and
Because of its extensive reach and engagement with other sectors, the tourism industry requires an
all of government lens beyond one ministry.
Clearly there are other important issues worth noting and much more behind each of these bullet points. Fortunately I’ve had or will have the opportunity to provide an added level of detail in meetings with various levels of government. Furthermore, some of this information will help inform TIABC’s future policy work on a range of issues and opportunities. Two more things to share in conclusion:
Whether in a classroom, Sunday school, at home, or reading a self-help book, somewhere along the way we’ve all been taught that if you can’t say something nice about someone, then don’t say anything at all.
Regrettably, most of us break that unwritten rule every day, especially when it comes to remarks about people in authority. Conversely, we need to consciously remind ourselves that it’s more important and effective to acknowledge good work and give credit where credit is due. So allow me to do just that.
When I heard industry leaders express a desire to provide input into the Province’s impending new tourism strategy, I passed the feedback on to Minister Beare and her team who willingly obliged by hosting sessions in Vancouver, Victoria and elsewhere to seek guidance from those with
skin in the game. Kudos to the Ministry of Tourism, Arts & Culture for engaging industry leaders in spite of the potential for criticism.
And finally…the BC Tourism Industry Conference is fast approaching. While full program details are being finalized and will be available online early in the new year, I can assure you that the workshops, plenary sessions, opening reception and awards gala will be outstanding. Be sure to register before year's end or as soon as you’re back after the break.
On behalf of the board and staff of TIABC, I wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays, Seasons Greetings, Happy New Year and any other well wishes that might apply.
Thank you for your support of TIABC over the past year. I look forward to seeing you at the conference.