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Mar 6, 2023

TIABC Voice of Tourism Newsletter – March 3rd, 2023



My first visit to Prince George (PG) in 1981 was as part of a tour of BC radio stations with fellow BCIT broadcast journalism students. I recall waiting to depart from the Burnaby campus and observing the last of my classmates climb on board our bus carrying nothing but a 24-pack of beer and a toothbrush. I knew instantly it would be an unforgettable trip.

I’m sure the Inn of the North was relieved that our stay in PG was brief. Seems while our group was out for dinner one night, Jim 24-pack stayed behind and rearranged the numbers on every single hotel room door, wreaking havoc for both guests and hotel staff.

Whether guilty by association or not, I didn’t dare show my face in Prince George for the better part of three decades. However, since joining TIABC nearly eight years ago, I’ve visited BC’s northern capital at least a dozen times on business, even staying at the Inn on multiple occasions.

As I’ve mentioned in this space before, I love the north for many reasons, not the least of which is the people…who are some of the friendliest, helpful, down-to-earth, most resilient, hospitable, and forgiving folks you’ll ever meet. Just ask the delegates at this week’s BC Tourism & Hospitality Conference. Some two-thirds of attendees had never been to Prince George before and learned first-hand why this part of the province is so special.

At the opening reception, Northern BC Tourism and Tourism Prince George delivered a northern experience that delegates will be talking about all year. Aside from great food, entertainment and socializing with friends and colleagues, many attendees went snowshoeing or cross-country skiing for the first time at the wonderful Caledonia Nordic Ski Club..

Because the city remained under a deep blanket of snow all week, it created the kind of winter atmosphere that we had hoped for. More importantly, virtually all the delegates stayed within the conference centre throughout the day so the plenary sessions and workshops were well attended.

To be sure, there were some travels challenges…ironically not in Prince George but in Vancouver the day before the conference began. However, most delegates ultimately arrived thanks to the heroic efforts of our partners at Air Canada, as well as the other airlines that service PG. To an individual, the effort and patience to find a way to attend far outweighed long waits on the phone or at airports in other parts of BC to board a flight.

Every food server, bartender, guest services agent, bus driver, audio/visual technician, retail clerk, conference volunteer, and civic representative treated us like gold. PG Mayor Simon Yu couldn’t thank us enough for taking our conference to northern BC for the first time. He also asked everyone to help spread the word that his city is keen to welcome more visitors, especially given that the local economy is set to take a hit with the impending closure of two mills.

Stellar workshops, exceptional plenary sessions, and a wonderful Indigenous-themed BC Tourism & Hospitality Awards Gala were also among the highlights this week. I wish to offer my sincere thanks to our host partners (Tourism Prince George, Northern BC Tourism, City of PG, Lheidli T’enneh First Nation), our anchor partners (Destination BC, Indigenous Tourism BC) conference management team (ConnectSeven Group), volunteers, speakers, government officials, event and award sponsors, delegates, BCHA partners, and especially the community for making this year’s conference so unique and so successful.

To the best of my knowledge, no one pulled any practical jokes that will run me out of town for a long period of time again. If anything, this trip to PG will be unforgettable for all the right reasons.

I feel sorry for those that missed out on the 2023 BC Tourism & Hospitality Conference. Fortunately there is always next year in Victoria (March 6-8) or perhaps another opportunity to stage the event in the north somewhere down the road.

Walt Judas,

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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