Australian comedian Carl Barron does a hilarious bit where he makes fun of Aussies for never giving a straight answer to a question and instead saying what they’re “not” doing, feeling, or thinking. For example, ask an Aussie, When does the game start? and they’ll answer, not long now. Or…How’s it going mate? Not bad. How much was your new car? Not cheap. You get the idea.
Lately it seems I’m increasingly offering an Aussie-like response when answering questions or providing context for TIABC policies. At a YVR meeting today and during a Tourism Kamloops luncheon earlier this week, I specifically pointed out that TIABC is not against certain industries or services but acting in the best interests of its members and/or the tourism industry at-large when looking to advance regulations that impact other business sectors or communities.
For example, on the short-term vacation rental (STVR) file, TIABC is not anti-Air BnB or against homeowners generating extra income but we maintain that more government oversight is required to ensure STVRs comply with local regulations and to control the proliferation of this form of visitor accommodation which has seriously impacted the rental housing market for residents and workers. For the record, we know that some tourists prefer STVRs and in many communities there are few other choices of accommodation. We’re also aware that many of our professional colleagues and government officials operate STVRs. As long as they follow local rules, so be it.
Because we recognize there are gaps in passenger transportation services and both visitors and residents prefer options, we recognize that ridesharing is needed in other parts of the province aside from Metro Vancouver. Again, we’re not anti-ridesharing but contend that either additional regulation is required for Uber, Lyft and other operators to level the playing field with the taxi industry, or conversely, eliminate some of the regulatory burdens on cab companies that network transportation companies are obligated by.
As mentioned in this space last week, TIABC is not against mining or forestry but the tourism industry must be an equal voice at the table for land-based decisions that affect our sector, along with the need for natural resource companies to respect tourism tenures, values, and sustainability initiatives that are so vital to tourism operators.
Generally we do not oppose government’s decision to raise the minimum wage in BC to help people make ends meet. However, TIABC and many other business sectors would have preferred a more modest increase given the rising costs operators continue to face for virtually everything. At the very least, help for businesses in the form of tax breaks or other concessions would be welcome.
From my perspective, it’s good form to point out what TIABC is not against to avoid misperceptions or conflict with stakeholders that otherwise may not understand or listen to why we’re advocating for certain policy changes or direction.
Thankfully TIABC’s Policy Committee is very diligent about looking at all sides of an issue to try to find a good balance between protecting our members’ interests and those of visitors, residents, various levels of government, and other stakeholders. How we formulate policy is never easy or quick, nor are some of our positions popular with certain stakeholders, but we endeavour to advance recommendations that allow our members and the industry the best chance to prosper.
I trust you’ve had a productive and positive Tourism Week and are ready for a break (at least for those of you that work Monday to Friday). If you were to ask me what I’m doing this weekend, I’ll give you the standard Aussie answer…not much.