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Apr 12, 2024

TIABC Voice of Tourism Newsletter – April 12, 2024

TIABC

Of all the times travelling on ferries throughout British Columbia, I’ve experienced both the relief of being the very last vehicle to make it on board and the disappointment of missing the ferry by one car. Sitting at the front of the line is little consolation when you have no choice but to wait another two hours for the next sailing.

Thankfully, BC Ferries introduced a reservation system many years ago to help passengers better plan their travels and ideally avoid long lineups. However, even with reservations, there is always the possibility of missing a sailing or three due to lack of staff, bad weather, or broken boats that result in delays or cancellations which often wreak havoc with travellers and cause a ripple effect for businesses and communities that rely on ferry traffic.

Like raising the subject of politics, if you ask family, friends, or colleagues about the ferry system in BC, you’ll likely hear some strong opinions no matter if they’re a regular user or not. As a private company, BC Ferries in particular faces constant scrutiny by municipal and provincial governments, residents, visitors, media, and various sectors including tourism. And rightly so considering how important their transportation service is to all constituents.

To that end, last fall BC Ferries embarked on a public engagement project entitled – Charting the Course – A Vision for Coastal Ferries – to solicit input on what it could be doing better, what’s important to ferry users, what needs fixing, amongst other priorities. Essentially Charting the Course was launched to identify what’s needed to keep people, goods, and services in coastal communities connected today and into the future.

In their recent update report, the ferry corporation noted several themes that emerged from the consultation exercise including the top priority to deliver more capacity and reliability in concert with the other overarching goals of affordability, efficiency, safety, comfort, convenience, integration, resiliency, and sustainability.

Considering that the corporation received an equal ranking of satisfied and dissatisfied vis-à-vis customers’ experiences over the past year in a recent survey, achieving these goals is no small task, especially in the context of increasing demand and ridership, higher costs for fuel, goods and labour, aging infrastructure, more frequent weather-related events, new government policy (e.g. GHG reduction targets), and other factors such as the current funding model, as well as the independent decision-making authority that influences prices and other operating procedures. Nonetheless, the engagement project is a positive move and tells me that BC Ferries is determined to right the ship (no pun intended) to ensure residents and visitors receive the level of service required to meet present and emerging needs.

From the perspective of BC’s visitor economy, one quarter of passengers take a ferry for tourism and leisure purposes. Considering that BC Ferries carries well over 20 million passengers annually, the service is paramount to the success of visitor-dependent communities up and down the coast, as well as inland. Clearly, we as an industry have a pivotal role to play and a huge stake in the effort to find solutions to the many challenges the ferry system faces.

TIABC contributed to the consultation process, as did many of our members including 4VI, CCCTA, BC Aviation Council and DMOs such as Victoria, Vancouver, Parksville/Qualicum Beach, Port Hardy, Sunshine Coast, Bowen Island, Nanaimo, and Powell River. The next phase of engagement will take place sometime this spring culminating in the release of a new vision next year. Stay tuned.

I absolutely love sailing on the COHO, Clipper, Hullo, or any BC ferry to and from the many incredible communities along the West Coast. Lately I’ve ditched the car in favour of boarding as a walk-on (& taking public transit) or with my bike which almost always guarantees a spot. That said, given the growing demand for BC Ferries’ services in particular, one can never be too cautious so I usually buy a ticket in advance. After all, I don’t want to be the last man standing and watching the ship depart, nor do I care to be first in line for the next sailing.

BTW…BC Ferries President & CEO Nicolas Jimenez will be among the panelists in a discussion on transportation at the upcoming BCHA Summit, which takes place in Whistler May 1-2.

Walt Judas,

CEO, TIABC

Related Posts

TIABC CEO Walt Judas joined Indigenous Tourism BC's Jamie Bourne and TOTA's Robb MacDonald on a panel to discuss sustainability at Tourism Valemount's Celebration of Tourism event over the Victoria Day long weekend. 

Moderated by Valemount Mayor Owen Torgerson, the session also included Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond, Simpcw Chief George Lampreau and Tourism Valemount Executive Director Marcie Down. On Sunday, the group toured popular tourism attractions in the area and also participated in the community's annual Chinook salmon fry release into Swift Creek.
🏒 Even though the Canucks failed to advance past the second round, home playoff games were a good boost for local bars, restaurants, transportation companies and other sectors within Vancouver’s visitor economy.  TIABC CEO Walt Judas was on hand for game 7 against the Oilers along with Air Canada’s Serge Corbeil and Greater Vancouver Board of Trade CEO Bridgitte Anderson.
Five years ago, China was BC's second largest international market.  However, overnight visitation from China was down 64% in 2023 compared with 2019, largely due to the absence of group tour business.  At the Rendez-vous Canada event this week in Edmonton, BC tourism industry leaders met with Minister Counsellor Li Jiangang of the Chinese Embassy (Ottawa) to begin discussions on a path forward to regain approved destination status for group tour business and ultimately see visitors numbers from China return to pre-pandemic levels. 

Pictured L to R - Destination Vancouver's Karen Soyka, TIABC's Walt Judas, Counsellor Li, Indigenous Tourism BC's Paula Amos, Destination BC's Richard Porges.
WORTH (Women of Recreation, Tourism & Hospitality) hosted its first Leadership Summit in downtown Vancouver, attracting some 250 delegates, including TIABC CEO Walt Judas, that attended sessions on industry burnout, dismantling barriers to gender equity, leadership and other topics. Walt had the pleasure of introducing Tourism Minister Lana Popham who acknowledged a number of women leaders who are making a difference in BC's visitor economy.

📸: @visioneventphotography
📬 Postcards from BC!

"Wish you were here" from Beach Tofino, courtesy of Dave Butler, VP/Sustainability CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures. 📸

Would you like your image featured in our weekly Postcards from BC? Contact deborah@tiabc.ca to share your slice of paradise!
Sustainability and Partnerships Forum 🤝 💚 

Don't miss out on May 18, an engaging lineup featuring a dynamic panel of tourism experts and an insightful presentation on content creation! 

The event will be hosted at the Eagle Room, Best Western Valemount. Doors open at 5 pm, and the festivities will run from 6-9 pm. Enjoy tasty canapés provided by Tourism Valemount and refreshments at a cash bar. 🍽🥂

RSVP by May 14 to secure your spot! 🎟️
call (250) 566-3335 or email visitvalemount@gmail.com