March 1, 2018
The Voice of the B.C. Tourism Industry
Looking forward to the B.C. TIC opening reception 
hosted by  Aboriginal Tourism BC!

Chair's Message

I wouldn't describe myself as a numbers guy but lately it seems that all I'm doing is staring at spreadsheets and trying to make sense of them. 
Following last week's provincial budget, I continue to evaluate the implications of the new Employer Health (payroll) Tax on my own operation, as well as minimum wage increases unveiled the week before. Like anyone with a small tourism business, added expenses in one area generally means cutbacks in another unless I decide to charge my guests more or figure out other ways to generate revenue.  In either case, it's a challenge.
That said, both the provincial and federal governments offered some good things in their respective budgets that ultimately benefit the visitor economy. The feds promised a significant amount to manage endangered whale populations (including here in B.C.), as well as funds for national parks and the Canada-China 'Year of Tourism'.  Closer to home, among other things, the Province is investing additional monies into road infrastructure and campsites, as well as holding the line on B.C. Ferries fares, which selfishly is good for my island-based resort.
One major issue that TIABC has been working on since budget day is the proposed change to the Provincial Sales Tax Act that allows for the broader use of the Municipal and Regional District Tax (MRDT) to extend beyond tourism marketing, projects and programs, to include affordable housing initiatives.
TIABC, on behalf of provincial DMOs, hotels and our entire industry is seeking clarification and more information on the impending regulatory change, as well as an opportunity to work with government on any revisions to MRDT regulations. To that end, our CEO Walt Judas will be in Victoria on Monday to meet with Finance Minister Carole James and Tourism Minister Lisa Beare to determine the best path forward which includes maintaining the integrity of the MRDT program for its original intended purpose (see TIABC letter to Hon. Carole James on our website). We will continue to provide information to you as developments unfold.
With the B.C. Tourism Industry Conference just days away, allow me to take the opportunity to acknowledge our hosts - Tourism Kelowna - as well as our conference manager, staff and board, committee volunteers, sponsors, speakers and everyone who's had a hand in this year's event (more formal thanks to come in Kelowna).
Given that the conference is one of TIABC's revenue generators to help us with our advocacy efforts, I anticipate being buried in spreadsheets again sometime in mid-March.  In the meantime, I look forward to your feedback as always and hope to see you at the beautiful Delta Grand Okanagan Resort in Kelowna.

Jim Humphrey, Chair 

March 7-9 in Kelowna
It's Not Too Late To Register

Big Night at Big White
Thursday Night's Social Event is Headed to the Mountain!

There are a num ber of fabulous activities planned for our evening at Big White.  Our group and all activities will be based in the Happy Valley Day Lodge,  just off the main parking lot where the buses will deliver us and right by the skating rink.  

Here is an overview of the evening:
4:30 - 5:00 pm - Buses arrive from Kelowna
5:00 - 6:30 pm - Delegates enjoy winter activities outdoors, or the Tasting Event inside the Day Lodge (see details below)
6:30 - 9:00 pm - Dinner and entertainment on the upper floor of the Day Lodge
9:00 pm - First buses depart for the Delta Grand Okanagan

Tubing:   No skill or equipment are required - just a sense of adventure and a desire for excitement.  The Tube Park has five specially groomed lanes that allow thrill seekers of all ages to enjoy a high speed ride down the slopes.

Skating:   Take a spin on your ice skates at Canada's highest outdoor skating rink, surrounded by the breathtaking view of snow-covered trees and picturesque mountains. Skates will be available, no need to bring your own.

Horse-Drawn Sleigh Rides: Take a step back in time with a ride on an old fashioned horse drawn sleigh in the winter wonderlan d of Big  White. 

Guided Snowshoe Tours

Go explori ng Big White's snowshoe trails in the secluded wilderness, encountering nature's splendor and wildlife.  

Local Wine, Beer and Spirit Tasting
In between activities, or for those who would rather be inside, the lower level of the Happy Valley Day Lodge will provide you with the opportunity to sample some of the Okanagan's own wine, beer and spirits. Try some of the best the region has to offer!

Gondola to the Upper Village
Take the gondola to the Village Centre and explore the shops and soak in the ambiance of one of B.C.'s most popular ski resorts.

Registered conference attendees will receive further details on Big White events
- please watch your email in-box!

BC Tourism Industry Conference 2018

1 Town Hall 

1 Welcome Reception

19 Concurrent Sessions

4 Keynote Presentations

5 B.C. Tourism Industry Awards

1 evening of winter mountain fun at Big White!

4 regional teams vying for the Winning Pitch Competition
1 Presentation from B.C.'s Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Hon. Lisa Beare 

Full conference program details are now available on the conference website:

Also watch for our regular emails highlighting exciting sessions, speakers and activities.


South Okanagan Winery Planning Hotel Expansion
Vineyard hotel would add new dimension to Penticton tourist accommodations.  A recent open house was only the first step in a long process. After getting approval from the Agricultural Land Commission for the 0.5-acre portion in the ALR, they will also have to go through a rezoning process with the City of Penticton, including a public hearing.

Telling Victoria's Story at Seatrade
The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA) knows how much tourists love visiting Victoria and they'll be bringing that message to cruise executives from around the world at this year's Seatrade conference in Fort Lauderdale. GVHA is attending the conference with several Victoria partners, including Tourism Victoria, the Butchart Gardens, and Pacific North West Transportation Services. They will be showing the cruise industry why Victoria is a premier destination and how they are striving to become a home port with cruise ships beginning and ending their voyages in Victoria.

Big White Celebrates B.C. Family Day By Putting Families First

The B.C. Family Day weekend at Big White Ski Resort was a huge success with perfect bluebird conditions, a packed family-friendly events schedule and 1191 B.C. residents taking advantage of the 50% off lift tickets on the holiday Monday.

Prince George Airport Numbers Continue to Rise
40,925 passengers moved through the Prince George International Airport in January 2018. This was an increase of 10.75% or 3,971 more passengers over January 2017 when passenger volume was 36,954.

Free Wifi Downtown Vancouver
In partnership with Shaw Communications Inc., the City of Vancouver has expanded free public WiFi throughout the city, making #VanWiFi one of the largest free public WiFi networks in North America.  

Royal B.C. Museum Calendar is Full of Adventure

Elevate Your Next Event - New Meetings-Focused Kelowna Video
Tourism Kelowna  has a new video in their toolbox when selling their city to meeting and conference planners. This 50-second overview showcases Kelowna's easy access, activity options, and venues, all within the city's stunning backdrop.

Alberta's Ban On B.C. Wine Comes To An End

B.C. winery owners were popping corks last week after  Alberta's premier suspended a ban on the province's wine.  The move came after B.C. Premier John Horgan announced his government would turn to the courts on the question of whether B.C. could put a temporary ban on increased bitumen exports from Alberta.
That has resulted in an end to  Alberta's two week wine boycott and a truce between the provinces - for now.

B.C. wineries said they're relieved the ban is lifted, but are still shocked it happened in the first place.  "We remain concerned that any provincial government believes it has the constitutional authority to impose trade bans on Canadian products based on their place of origin," B.C. Wine Institute president Miles Prodan said in a statement.

"We are, however, thrilled that Alberta consumers once again have the choice to purchase and enjoy B.C. wines, as they have long done."  Prodan says the institute will consult with its legal counsel in coming days to determine a "path forward" on the issue.


Numbers You Need to Know

Canada welcomed a record breaking 20.8 million tourists in 2017, the highest ever in Canadian history.  T he preliminary data, released by Statistics Canada, shows that Canada has surpassed the previous record set in 2002 by almost a million.

Here is a breakdown of how TIAC advocacy efforts have contributed to the growth in international numbers:
  • $95.5 million in secured Destination Canada marketing funding: A well funded Destination Canada directly impacts growth in our target markets. Across DC target markets, arrivals totalled 18.49 million in 2017.
  • Important $30 million funding for Connecting America: Overall U.S. growth is up 3.1% over last year, with air arrivals growing 6.6% indicating they're travelling farther and staying longer.
  • Mexican visa lift: Growth significantly increased over 2016 directly as a result of the movement from a visa requirement to the eTA system (up 47.4% in overnight arrivals).
  • Canada-China tourism year & increased air lift to China: Chinese tourism grew 11.8% over last year, and is steadily growing towards the target of doubling growth by 2021.  TIAC efforts to ensure seven additional visa application centers (VACs) would be opened in time for the Canada-China Year of Tourism will continue to help grow Chinese visitation in the coming year and beyond.
To maximize Canada's growing tourism success, government action continues to be needed to address policy barriers.  TIAC put forward recommendations to the government to reach these goals by continuing to reduce barriers to entry, invest in tourism and adopting a whole of government approach to ensure a holistic approach to tourism policy development. Key recommendations put forward and advocated by TIAC focus on the following: addressing cost-competitiveness; barriers to entry; and labour shortages as well as continuing to invest in marketing efforts to ensure Canada can reach its targets by 2021. Read more about these  recommendations 
here .

2017 Marks an Impressive Year for Tourism in British Columbia
The latest numbers from Statistics Canada show a 3% increase in visitor arrivals in December 2017 over the same month in 2016, resulting in 11,869 more visitors arriving in British Columbia. In total, over 5.7 million overnight visitors came to the province last year - an increase of 3.3%, or 181,700 visitors, over 2016.

The growth in 2017 is attributed to several factors, including increased access to B.C. from several key international markets, such as Australia, Germany, Mexico, China and France. Increased air traffic to Vancouver contributes to the vitality of the tourism industry.

Increases for December 2017 (over December 2016) include:
  • France - up 42.9%
  • Japan - up 26.2%
  • South Korea - up 21.3%
  • Australia - up 15.7%
  • China - up 14.5%
  • Germany - up 14.4%
  • United States (excluding same-day visitors) - up 1.9%
  • Asia/Pacific - up 8.9%
  • Europe - up 5.3%
Increases for 2017 include:
  • Australia - up 20.4%
  • Germany - up 15.4%
  • Mexico - up 12.9%
  • China - up 7.1%
  • France - up 5.7%
  • Japan - up 5.1%
  • South Korea - up 3%
  • United States (excluding same-day visitors) - up 1.9%
  • United Kingdom - up 0.2%
  • Asia/Pacific - up 6.4%
  • Europe - up 3.4%

Fishing BC Develops Value of Tourism Profiles

Fishing Tourism 
Increasing the collection, analysis and sharing of intelligence to help with informed decision making is a key priority of the  Fishing BC marketing initiative.

Business intelligence is a critical aspect to ensuring ongoing tourism development and marketing decisions are being made based on sound research. Fishing BC realized very early on that many key stakeholders, especially community DMOs, did not have a good understanding of how important fishing tourism was to their local tourism economy. Developing v alue of fishing tourism profiles have been identified as one solution and Fishing BC hopes to work with communities and regions to further develop these documents. 

Value of Fishing in Fernie 
Set against the jaw- dropping peaks of the Canadian Rockies, Fernie's pristine waters, classic freestone  rivers and clear lakes make it one of the most stunning and productive dry fly  destinations in the world.  The fishing tourism sector also provides valuable economic benefits to Fernie area. 


Tourism Richmond Supports Experience Development With New Scholarship
Mentorship. Financing. Investment. Tourism. What do these things have in common? They're all found in the Pacific. Authentic. Scholarship, offered by Tourism Richmond.

The objective of the Pacific. Authentic. Scholarship is to support the growth of Richmond's tourism industry, not only by investing financially, but also by being actively involved in the initiative through mentoring stakeholders to deepen their travel industry expertise, and to also expand their marketing capabilities.

Successful applicants will receive up to $20,000 funding, which can be used towards the development and marketing of a new partnered tourism experience. Along with the funding, Tourism Richmond will aid in project management, marketing coaching and support.

Bruce Okabe Retiring from Tourism Richmond 

Tourism Richmond CEO Bruce Okabe recently announced his retirement, effective May 15th.

Bruce's message to industry:

It's been an honour and privilege to serve the community and I've had a wonderful and rewarding time here. I've discovered so many different aspects of Richmond during the past several months and while I was a resident of this city so many years ago, I will admit I didn't know what the true heart of the city was until now. 

I'd like to thank the board of directors for placing their trust in me to lead four key directives. They charged me with finding the right people for the organization, to launch a new destination brand, to set the organization on a new strategic direction and to reinvigorate the relationship we have with industry. And I'm pleased to say that we've delivered... a lot faster than anticipated. 

Looking back on the past year, we've accomplished a lot:
2018-2020 Business and Marketing Plan - this document clearly outlines the strategies and priorities for Tourism Richmond over the next two years - and gives this organization a solid platform on which to succeed.

The New Destination Brand - Pacific. Authentic. Richmond, BC. This new brand is the culmination of what you told us in community workshops, surveys and Town Hall meetings and I think it's a fitting description of who we are and more importantly, why we are. The new brand will form the underlying DNA of how we speak to tourists and businesses who wish to come to Richmond to visit or hold meetings here.

Our people - I'm so grateful of our hardworking and passionate team of ambassadors at Tourism Richmond, they were ones doing all the heavy lifting and executing against our strategy.
Industry Relationships - I am proud of our focus to ensure our industry has all the tools to be successful. From workshops to education to co op funding, our job is to make sure the Richmond tourism industry grows and prospers.

This was a true team effort, and I didn't anticipate we would be at this juncture so quickly.
So, it's with a mix of sadness and gratitude that I'm leaving Team Richmond but please always remember: Team Richmond is more than just one person. It's you, your employees and peers, the team at Tourism Richmond, the City, the destination itself and so many others that truly makes up Team Richmond.

Thank you all for your kind support this past year.

Yours Truly,
Bruce Okabe
Tourism Richmond Team Member
Chief Executive Officer

'The Way Forward': 
Crafting One Canoe With Many Hands

By Jim Barr and Hewkin of the Tla'amin First Nation.  
Photo credit: Jim

The project's premise was simple: one tree equals one sea-worthy canoe built by many hands, some more experienced than others. 

Meet John Dominic, a Grade 8 student at Brooks Secondary School along B.C.'s Sunshine Coast on the traditional territories of the Tla'amin First Nation. During 2017, Dominic - his Indigenous name is Hewkin - had the opportunity to be part of the Hehewsin Canoe Carving Project. 41 days and 126 people turned out a sea worthy craft over 26 feet long, a carving headed up headed up by master carver Joe Martin of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation (Clayoquot).  

The Hehewsin (translation, "the way forward") project symbolically turns 5,000 years of local knowledge into a bridge for reconciliation. It embodies the idea that Canadians need to learn more about our First Nation's brothers and sisters, recognize the injustices of the past, and do what we can to learn to truly respect, honor and celebrate the culture and people that has lived and thrived on this coast for millennia. Hehewsin is just one important part of the much larger picture needed to educate all Canadians about reconciliation and as you will learn from Hewkin's comments below, a game changer.  

Here are just a few of Hewkin's thoughts about his experience with the Hehewsin project. To read the full story, visit

ZS: How did the project change you? 
Hewkin: I really feel as if it has opened my eyes to the real world. Before that moment, I was in a fake life with no colours, but now I see everything for real. I love my culture when I am there. I feel like this moment has not just changed me, but given me a reason to go to school, learn about my culture and sing with friends and family. It makes me proud to be native. This has changed me for the better from now and forever. 

Special thanks to Dominic's mother and his teacher Chris Bratseth for allowing ZenSeekers to tell this story and to Phil Russell the founder of the Hehewsin movement. 

How to get involved in 'the way forward' Travel this summer and support a First Nations business. There are many Indigenous businesses across BC and Canada that offer an immersive and memorable experience.

Tourism Kelowna Visitor Centre Underway

The construction of Kelowna's new visitor centre remains on budget and on schedule for a mid-2018 opening as the project team works hard to carry on through the colder and snowy days in February.  

The building's foundation has been poured successfully and the backfill work around the foundation has started. The pre-fabricated walls are starting to go up as the building starts to further take shape.

BikeShare Plan Unveiled for Kelowna

Several dozen bike pick-up and drop-off locations will be set up around downtown Kelowna as part of an 18-month bike share agreement between the city and Dropbike Inc.

The bikeshare model has been emerging in several cities in Canada and around the world. If gives people the opportunity to pick up a bike at one location for short-term use, and return it to any of the specific havens around downtown for a nominal fee.

The company would provide between 500 and 1,500 bikes for the pilot project.  The project is expected to be launched in the spring, and run through fall of 2019.

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