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May 3, 2024

TIABC Voice of Tourism Newsletter – May 3, 2024

TIABC

While cleaning out my tool shed a while back, I found an old hard hat with the words, “I helped raise the roof at BC Place Stadium” printed on it.  I recall wearing the bright blue hard hat on November 14th, 1982, joining dozens of media, government officials and dignitaries on the floor of the dome as forced air slowly inflated the giant Teflon-covered, 255 tonne fibreglass roof.

Not long after, I celebrated my 21st birthday at the first major sporting event at BC Place (Whitecaps vs. Sounders), along with 60,341 of my closest friends. Less than a decade later I shared an office at the stadium as part of the BC Pavco team so I got to know the venue well and still possess a strong affection for it. To this day, I feel a sense of nostalgia every time I visit.

I have great memories of concerts featuring the likes of the Rolling Stones, U2, Pink Floyd, Guns n’ Roses, Bon Jovi, Neil Young, Paul McCartney, and more recently Luke Bryan and Luke Combs. I also recall attending sporting events such as BC Lions’ games, Rugby Sevens, Whitecaps soccer, Grey Cups, exhibition NFL and Major League Baseball, as well as numerous trade shows and historic occasions such as the opening ceremonies for both Expo 86 and the Olympics. 

Conversely, I have unpleasant memories of times, when in my communications role at PAVCO, I had to defend BC Place. You may recall that in the early nineties, after the novelty of having a new downtown stadium had worn off, government was criticized for subsidizing what some media misrepresented as an oversized, underused venue that was poorly designed and too expensive to operate. Thank goodness decision-makers of the day resisted calls to demolish the dome and sell the land to private interests. From a tourism perspective alone, imagine how many events we would have missed without it.

I was back at BC Place earlier this week for a media technical briefing to learn about preparations for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. General Manager Chris May did an excellent job outlining the planned renovations for the dome to accommodate the sporting world’s single largest spectacle.

I saw Chris again two days later at the BCHA Summit in Whistler where he was part of a panel on large events and sport tourism. He pointed out that over the past year the stadium welcomed 74,000 out-of-town guests generating some $51m in economic impact. On the same panel, Tourism Richmond CEO Nancy Small touted the success of the Richmond Oval (originally built for the Olympics), where facility demand far exceeds capacity for both locals and visitors.

The success of both the Stadium and the Oval can be attributed in part to annual sales and marketing investments made by Destination Vancouver and Tourism Richmond using revenues generated through the Municipal and Regional District Tax (MRDT) applied to hotel room nights. Nancy cited MRDT numerous times as the catalyst to attracting sport, meetings, and leisure business to Richmond. Obviously the same holds true for Vancouver and virtually every other visitor-dependent community throughout the province. The underlying message was that MRDT is critical to attracting events to venues like BC Place and the Richmond Oval, requires ongoing support from the hotel community, and should not be further diluted in order to ensure that the tourism sector continues to contribute to the economic, social, environmental, and cultural well-being of our province. Thankfully the vast majority of hoteliers agree.

So why are we constantly in defence mode when it comes to BC’s leading-edge tourism funding system? Well, it’s because yet another municipality is calling for the entire MRDT system to be overhauled with a view to allow the funds to be used for non-tourism related infrastructure projects. This after the province completed (in 2023) a tourism system review that evaluated current funding mechanisms only to draw the conclusion that the MRDT system works exceptionally well and gives BC a competitive advantage…among other benefits…which we always knew to be the case. However, some elected officials don’t know to leave well enough alone. Clearly TIABC’s advocacy efforts on the MRDT file at the civic level are far from over. More to come on this file in the weeks ahead.

Because I was never going to wear it, I ended up donating my “Raised the Roof” hard hat to the BC Sports Hall of Fame (BCSHOF) who were grateful to receive it. One day I hope my prairie grandkids will visit BCSHOF (which is located at BC Place) and see the hard hat (if it’s on display) knowing that some of their grandfather’s greatest experiences took place inside this magnificent venue…which is not only gearing up for World Cup in 2026, but is getting set to welcome the Rolling Stones and Taylor Swift this year. Hope to see you there.

Walt Judas,

CEO, TIABC

Related Posts

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
📬 Postcards from BC!

"Wish you were here" from the Botanica Flower Festival Chilliwack, courtesy of Allison Colthorp Executive Director Tourism Chilliwack. 📸

Would you like your image to be featured in our weekly Postcards from BC? Contact deborah@tiabc.ca to share your slice of paradise!
📸 “Postcards from BC” featuring Brian Cant at the Red Mountain Resort Rossland! 

Would you like your image to appear in our weekly Postcards from BC feature? Contact deborah@tiabc.ca