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Jul 31, 2023

TIABC Voice of Tourism Newsletter – July 28, 2023



A pal recently sent me an Instagram video of two 50-something year old, well-dressed golfers wandering into a pro shop and 90 seconds later casually walking out with two putters stuffed down one guy’s pants. I instantly felt my blood pressure go through the roof (figuratively). My guess is the retail value of the clubs was in the range of $250.00.

I don’t know where the golf shop theft took place but I do know that similar scenarios happen frequently to retailers in BC, including tourism operators, in spite of security cameras and other measures to prevent this type of crime. In fact, according to Statistics Canada, shoplifting is at an all-time high and by all accounts appears to show no signs of abating. The Retail Council of Canada says thefts have risen on average by 300 percent since the start of the pandemic.

A TIABC member from a hospitality-related sector association told me last week that during his travels around the province to meet with stakeholders, he learned that shoplifting and vandalism were among the top three or four issues many of his members cited as requiring serious attention in order for their businesses to survive. Yikes!

I also heard this week from another member that in one of BC’s most popular tourism destinations, a well-known convenience store chain closed its primary downtown outlet because of the ongoing violence, damage and thefts the store and its employees have experienced in recent years. The retailer came to the unfortunate conclusion that it was cheaper and safer to shutter its operation and pay out the lease than to remain open and put up with the risks.

In recent months, many communities have stepped up law enforcement and enacted other measures to crack down on chronic offenders and organized crime rings who are largely responsible for the burglaries but the problem persists.

Thankfully there are resources for retailers to access such as a WorkSafe BC guide on preventing violence, robbery and theft. On their own many business owners have invested in anti-theft devices and on-site security personnel. Business improvement associations have offered training to members and launched street teams to patrol various neighbourhoods. Earlier this week the province introduced a new program (see below) to help businesses with up to $3,000 to cover the costs related to vandalism and to implement prevention measures. Government previously promised legislative changes to the Criminal Code that would add stronger conditions on repeat violent offenders. But are these actions enough?

Many major retailers maintain that very little is being accomplished no matter which initiative so they’re taking matters into their own hands to advance practical solutions with measurable outcomes. You’ll hear more about the strategy as it rolls out in the coming months.

While I’m not an expert and don’t want to get into the reasons behind the increasing problem of shoplifting in particular, I recognize that the solutions are equally complex and not as simple as the default response of putting chronic offenders in jail and throwing away the key. At the same time, given the impact of theft on tourism operators, as well as other offences committed against visitors that have generated recent headlines, TIABC is in the process of determining its advocacy role and policy position on this critical issue to not only protect tourism workers and businesses, but to mitigate the damage to our province’s reputation as a safe and welcoming place for everyone.

As much as I have compassion for people with severe challenges who often commit the aforementioned crimes, I’m a strong believer in justice, especially for thieves who should know better. To that end, I hope the perpetrators of the putter theft are identified and turned in by an Instagram subscriber with a conscience. That would certainly make my blood pressure drop to its normal state of 100 over 60.

Walt Judas,


Related Posts

TIABC Director Dennis Innes (VCC Dean of Hospitality, Culinary & Baking) and CEO Walt Judas joined term 8 hospitality students, industry leaders, recent graduates, and faculty for a Philosopher's Cafe to discuss the state of the tourism and hospitality workforce this week at VCC's downtown Vancouver campus.
TIABC CEO Walt Judas with Tourism Abbotsford’s Barb Roberts & Clare Seeley, as well as VCM’s Chad Wetsch on a site visit to a land-based Tilapia fish farm owned and operated by the Sumas First Nation who are expanding their Fraser Valley holdings with ambitious plans to bolster Abbotsford’s tourism infrastructure and experiences.
As he does regularly, TIABC CEO Walt Judas recently presented to tourism students and faculty at @westerncommunitycollege's (WCC) Surrey campus, focussing on industry issues and TIABC's advocacy priorities. Walt also serves on WCC's Program Advisory Committee (PAC), as well as the PACs of @capilanou and @myvcc.
🍽️ What an incredible farm-to-table experience! Backyard Farm Proprietor and Chef Chris Van Hooydonk welcomed TOTA's Board of Directors and guests Walt Judas, Richard Porges (DBC CEO) and Scott Fraser (DBC Chair) for a memorable meal in Osoyoos this week.

Chris's culinary philosophy focuses on utilizing the freshest, locally sourced ingredients to create unique, tailored menus for each visit. With a commitment to true hospitality, the experience is marked by attentive service and a passion for showcasing the beauty of the South Okanagan.

Also pictured, Destination Osoyoos Executive Director Kelley Glazer, TOTA CEO Ellen Walker Matthews, and TOTA's Jane Parece. 

A huge thank you to Chris for providing such a delightful culinary experience! 🌿
🎉 Highlights from the 2024 BC Tourism Industry Conference in Victoria! 🌟

Close to 450 tourism industry professionals convened in Victoria last week for the annual 2024 BC Tourism Industry Conference, hosted by TIABC. Industry leaders representing businesses, sector associations, regional and community destination management organizations, First Nations, federal, provincial and municipal governments, as well as non-government organizations gathered for the two-day event. 

Anchored by the conference theme - Shaping Our Future Together - the outstanding program provided both a knowledge and skills track via plenary sessions and workshops. Here are just a few highlights:

▪️ Opening keynote speaker Shaun Boothe shared a unique and emotional celebration of some of the world's most influential cultural icons. His energy and messages set the stage for the entire event.

▪️ Hon. Lana Popham, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture & Sport kicked off the conference by welcoming delegates and sharing her own personal story of working in BC's tourism industry.

▪️ Plenary Remarks by Hon. Soraya Martinez Ferrada: Insights from the Minister of Tourism and Economic Development Agency of Canada highlighted the industry's significance.

▪️TIABC CEO Walt Judas engaged in a compelling conversation with Premier David Eby whose remarks underscored the vital role of the tourism industry in British Columbia, earning him a standing ovation.

▪️ Opening Reception at the Royal BC Museum

A big thank you to all our sponsors for making this event possible! 🙌
Join us in celebrating the remarkable winners of the 2024 BC Tourism Industry Awards Gala presented by @indigenoustourismbc! 🎉✨ 

Ten awards were given out to recognize and celebrate excellence, leadership, and innovation within British Columbia’s tourism and hospitality sector. These awards showcased the province’s most exceptional leaders and positive change-makers this past year.

The winners of the 2024 BC Tourism Industry Awards are:

Business Woman of the Year Award - Sponsored by Prince of Whales
⭐ Winner: Ingrid Jarrett, @bchotelassociation 

Community Contribution & Impact - Sponsored by Tourism Richmond
⭐Winner: @princeofwhaleswhalewatching 

DMO Professional Excellence - Sponsored by BC Regional Tourism Secretariat (BCRTS)
⭐Winner: @visitrichmondbc 

Employees First - Sponsored by go2HR
⭐Winner: @golfbc 

Inclusive and Accessible Tourism Experience - Sponsored by Destination BC
⭐Winner: Vancouver Aquarium

Indigenous Operator or Experience | Sponsored by Indigenous Tourism BC and Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada
⭐Winner: @homalcotours

Innovation | Sponsored by Tourism Innovation Lab
⭐Winner: @tourismnewwest 

Remarkable Experience | Sponsored by BC Destination Management Organization Association (BCDMOA)
⭐Winner: @nimmobayresort

Sector Association Excellence Award | Sponsored by Acera Insurance
⭐Winner: Sport Fishing Institute of BC

Sustainability Excellence | Sponsored by Nanaimo Airport
⭐Winner: @40knotswinery 

📸 @arkitekcreative