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Nov 17, 2023

TIABC Voice of Tourism Newsletter – November 17, 2023



Last spring I was in the US Customs area at YVR waiting to be cleared before boarding a flight to Palm Springs. As one would expect, the border services agent asked me several questions including where I would be staying while in the U.S.A. I told him I was bunking at a friend’s place in Indian Wells but that wasn’t good enough. The officer wanted a specific address at which point I realized that I didn’t have it.

After frantically texting my buddy and thankfully receiving an immediate response, I proceeded to pass my temporary California address on to the agent. However, the border guard still wouldn’t let me clear customs because I neglected to include the all-important zip code. Following another desperate text to my friend, I was eventually able to begin my journey but not before plugging the full contact details into my phone for future reference. Turns out I needed the address three hours later when the cab driver at Palm Springs airport insisted on a street name and zip code rather than allowing me to direct her to my final destination.

Clearly zip codes are a big deal in America but the same goes for Canada for reasons I hadn’t considered until recently. As you know, in its simplest form a postal code (PC) is necessary to ensure timely delivery of a letter or parcel to someone in another jurisdiction. Within a tourism context, a postal code is vital for marketing or booking accommodation online, delivery of supplies to local businesses, financial transactions and more.

In recent months an issue concerning postal codes has come to my attention that I’ve been trying to help resolve. Seems that Big White Mountain, home to as many as 10,000 overnight residents and guests on weekends during peak ski season, does not have its own postal code. What’s worse, after many years of lobbying Canada Post, the resort continues to experience the runaround by the federal agency even though a PC was promised by year’s end.

Aside from the challenges I alluded to earlier, the absence of a postal code has cost Tourism Big White Society MRDT revenue, which in some instances was accounted for in a neighbouring community. Social media content generated by guests often shows the resort to be located in Beaverdell which obviously leads new visitors astray. Google businesses listings are inaccurate because post office box numbers are not recognized. Residents can’t take delivery of medication and even have difficulty buying house insurance, renewing driver’s licenses, setting up utility payments, and other necessities that rely on a PC.

Big White Mountain’s 2022 tax assessment was $1.6 billion. More homeowners are expected soon with $130 million in new construction and resort improvements underway. Over 900 seasonal employees work on the mountain during the winter months. For the size of the community and its corresponding infrastructure, surely it can’t be that difficult to establish the mountain as an independent resort municipality (i.e. separate from Kootenay boundary) with its own, unique PC.

I’m confident that at some point the collective efforts of many will pay off and Big White Mountain will have a dedicated postal code but why does the bureaucracy move so slowly for something so important? On the heels of the devastating wildfires in August, this situation is yet one more challenge for the beleaguered Okanagan tourism sector to try to overcome.

Recently I took the uncrowded but scenic route through a portion of Washington State to get to Abbotsford. I stopped for gas along the way at an old service station off the beaten path. When I plugged my credit card into the terminal attached to the gas pump, I received a message asking for my zip code. Because my Visa card is linked to a Canadian address and obviously I don’t live in the States, I couldn’t pay at the pump. My only option was to pre-pay inside the station, fill my vehicle with gas, then return to the attendant to reconcile the bill. It took me twice as long as I planned. As trivial as my gas station experience was, at the very least it reminded me of the residents and tourism businesses of Big White who face even more frustration every day without a simple postal code.

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