VICTORIA - British Columbia has a new tourism strategy that will increase the number of visitors and promote job creation by building on the global awareness generated by the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, announced Premier Christy Clark in her address to the BC Tourism Industry Conference.
"We live in one of the cleanest, safest and most spectacular places in the world - add to that our cultural diversity and we have a huge competitive advantage in attracting visitors," said Clark. "This is the first sector strategy to be launched under the Jobs Plan and will provide a strong framework for growth in this sector. The more people that experience our province, the more likely they are to return to live, invest and create jobs here."
The Premier said a key priority over the next five years will be attracting more tourists from countries with large emerging middle classes, such as China and India, while maintaining strength in traditional markets such as the Ontario, California/Washington, the U.K., Germany, Australia and Japan. In 2010, China was B.C.'s fifth-largest international market for direct customs entries with 118,481 visitors to the province, an increase of 18.9 per cent over 2009.
"The tourism strategy is the result of input from industry representatives from every region of the province over the last 18 months," said Pat Bell, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation. "I have personally met extensively with industry leaders in the last seven months, and we have received feedback from an industry survey of 1,300 operators. This is very much a government-industry strategy, and that partnership will be critical to success."
'Gaining The Edge: A Five-Year Strategy for Tourism in British Columbia' also calls for a bigger push to provide marketing products in areas that most motivate people to choose BC. These areas include: touring vacations, city experiences, skiing-snowboarding, Aboriginal tourism, outdoor adventure/ecotourism, and meetings and conventions.
The strategy will target a five per cent annual growth in revenue in the tourism sector, expected to reach $18 billion annually by 2016.
Other key themes of the strategy are:
- Facilitating world-class visitor experiences by providing planning tools and programs to tourism businesses, local governments and communities. This includes a commitment to work closely with the Aboriginal Tourism Association of B.C. to grow and promote a sustainable, culturally rich Aboriginal tourism industry.
- Implementing stable and predictable funding and working with the Tourism Industry Association of BC towards a new multi-faceted tourism marketing partnership including provincial, regional and community marketing organizations, with clear roles and accountabilities.
- Removing barriers to industry growth by working with the federal government to address challenges to international air access with key existing and emerging tourism markets, and to promote timely air, marine and land border access. The Province will work with the tourism sector to ensure labour market strategies are in place that identify and address the sector's unique labour market pressures.
"The new provincial tourism strategy emphasizes the value of strengthening our collective focus and clearly demonstrates the partnership between B.C.'s tourism industry and government," said Lana Denoni, chair of the board of directors, Tourism Industry Association of BC. "We look forward to working with the Province and industry to implement key action items, which will lead to economic growth and job creation for the sector."
The Premier also announced details of this year's ski marketing campaign. With the tagline 'Get Above it All in British Columbia', the 2011-12 North America winter ski campaign has for the first time been developed in collaboration with members of the Canada's West Ski Areas Association, which includes representatives from B.C.'s 13 export-ready ski resorts.
The $1.1-million campaign, which runs from November to March, will focus primarily on the Ontario market (largely Greater Toronto). For four weeks starting Monday, Nov. 14, the city will be inundated with transit shelter ads, subway and underground walkway posters, and elevator wraps in key buildings that provide a link to a B.C. ski microsite and contest.
The campaign's secondary focus will be on California (San Francisco and Los Angeles), as well as Washington State (Seattle.) The ministry will continue to partner with B.C.'s resorts and regions to promote a range of winter activities to B.C. and Alberta residents.
Quick Facts:In 2010, the tourism sector employed 127,000 British Columbians, generated over $13.4 billion in revenue for tourism-related businesses and contributed over $1.2 billion to provincial government revenues.
The ski industry generates annual revenues of about $500 million dollars.
With over 50 types of tourism products found in six distinct regions and countless communities provincewide, tourism epitomizes how small and medium-sized businesses contribute to the economy:
- B.C. has nearly 18,000 tourism-related businesses provincewide.
- 77 per cent of all tourism businesses have fewer than 20 employees.
- 56 per cent have fewer than 10 employees.
- 43 per cent of all tourism businesses are outside the Greater Vancouver area.
The tourism division budget is approximately $52 million for 2011-12, up from $24 million in 2001. This budget includes resources for marketing, partnerships, and policy and research.
To learn more about the tourism strategy, please visit: http://www.jti.gov.bc.ca/tourismstrategy/index.htm
Office of the Premier
Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation