Skip to main content

Jul 14, 2023

TIABC Voice of Tourism Newsletter – July 14, 2023

TIABC

CEO MESSAGE

I prefer to vacation closer to home in the summer months given the endless choices, familiarity and appeal of BC destinations, relative ease of access, good weather, and multiple other factors. While I have often visited different countries at this time of the year, exorbitant prices, overcrowding, smoking hot temperatures, and other issues have made me less inclined to travel internationally until the so-called off-season.

At the same time, by holidaying in BC during the summer, I’m competing for hotel rooms, flights, restaurant and ferry reservations, tee times, and other amenities that out-of-province tourists also need.

As you likely know, some 60+ percent of international visitors to British Columbia arrive during the months of May, June, July, August and September. For some of the same reasons I like to travel in the province during the peak season, people from other parts of Canada and the world also prefer to visit over this five-month period.

Yet for years our industry has talked about the need to shift or attract more visitors outside of the summer months. In fact, the recently introduced Federal Tourism Growth Strategy – Canada 365 – that Minister Boissonnault spoke about earlier in the week in Vancouver and Whistler notes that by welcoming more visitors in the shoulder and winter seasons and encouraging travel to lesser-trafficked regions and destinations, we can align Canada’s visitor economy with sustainability and regenerative tourism goals and avoid the social and environmental impacts of over-tourism at certain destinations.

I should point out that Destination BC has also incorporated the goal of year-round travel and to lesser known places around the province as part of its corporate strategy, as have many regional and community DMOs. And they’ve been doing so for years. Notwithstanding there are already many tourists that visit BC over the winter for business, to ski, and myriad other activities, the notion of further seasonal dispersion is both strategic and necessary but the question remains…can federal and provincial visitation goals outside of the peak summer months be achieved anytime soon?

Some suggest we can’t count on any substantial increases to the number of visitors beyond the summer because of fewer flights, inaccessible highways/poor infrastructure, competition from sun destinations, nasty weather, seasonal staff availability, and many other reasons. While there may be an element of truth to that, from my perspective it shouldn’t stop Canadian and BC communities/regions from continuing to pursue a seasonal dispersion strategy, even if only for the sustainability reason referenced in the Canada 365 Strategy.

Moreover, with a strong provincial/federal partnership, a dedicated focus on advocacy, sufficient marketing resources, and a coordinated strategy to develop new products, bolster transportation infrastructure, among other priorities, many of the aforementioned obstacles can be overcome and opportunities leveraged to grow tourism well beyond the May to September period. Although it won’t be easy or quick, there appears to be a greater willingness on the part of senior governments to make it happen by 2030 or sooner.

So far in 2023 I’ve travelled a lot within BC by car, ferry, plane and train. I can attest firsthand that it’s not as seamless as it used to be because of heavy traffic, constant delays due to road work, highway closures, wildfires, flight and ferry cancellations, and other issues. Because of my personal travel experiences this year and from what I hear in communities and from members, I’m even more motivated to advocate aggressively on files such as transportation and infrastructure to help with seasonal dispersion and other tourism industry needs.

Although I’m still planning to visit my favourite BC haunts this summer for vacation, I may consider shifting some of my travels to the shoulder season to avoid some of the challenges I referenced earlier. The activities I choose may be slightly different because of the time of year, but it could ultimately be an even more positive experience overall, not to mention bolstering support for tourism operators at a normally slower time of the year.

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