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Nov 3, 2023

TIABC Voice of Tourism Newsletter – November 3, 2023



The other day I saw a photo on Instagram of friends on vacation together in Palm Springs. I knew seven of the individuals but couldn’t place the eighth although he looked somewhat familiar. I finally texted my buddy who posted the image to ask who it was. Turns out I knew the guy but he had physically changed so much over the last decade, I didn’t recognize him.

Unfortunately, the older one gets, the more often these kinds of situations happen. Similarly, many times I’ve visited a destination several years after my first visit and forgotten what I had seen on previous trips, partly because the place itself has morphed into something different.

On that note, earlier this week I joined a few professional colleagues for Air Canada’s first Vancouver to Dubai direct flight for a series of meetings with United Arab Emirates (UAE) business leaders and associations. By way of background, I was part of the lobbying effort to convince the federal government to approve a new bilateral agreement between Canada and UAE (Air Canada and Emirates Airlines) on this new venture…hence the reason I was invited on the trip.

The last time I visited this Middle Eastern hub was more than a dozen years ago when the world’s tallest building (Burj Khalifa) had yet to open. I was with Tourism Vancouver at the time who, along with Visit Dubai, was a member of the BestCities (meeting) Alliance.

To say Dubai has changed since my last visit would be a gross understatement. The city is exploding with development consisting of thousands of new office towers, condos, hotels, marinas, restaurants, shopping centres, highways, rapid transit, attractions and more. Everywhere you look there are cranes in the sky as yet another project is completed at Mach speed. I almost didn’t recognize the place.

Nearly four million people now call Dubai home, 75% of them ex-pats. Some 40,000 Canadians live there lured by the exceedingly friendly business climate which makes it easy to move to the United Arab Emirates, set up a company, and service the needs of countries in the Middle East, Africa, India, Europe, and beyond.

From a tourism perspective, Visit Dubai is active in 50 markets worldwide with offices in 22 cities overseas. Their role extends well beyond what most DMOs do to include responsibilities such as issuing licenses to new tourism businesses, training tour guides, providing incentives to prospective tourism entrepreneurs, and assigning a rating to each of the 820 hotels in the city that remit a visitor tax commensurate with their ranking. With 170,000 hotel rooms and 87% average occupancy for all but the summer months, Visit Dubai’s revenue and budget is what most DMOs could only dream of. Hence the reason the city attracts upwards of 16 million international visitors annually.

To a person, every executive our delegation (Air Canada, Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, YVR, Vancouver Hotel Destination Management Association, TIABC) met with during our whirlwind visit was thrilled with the new Air Canada direct flight from YVR to Dubai.

All cited tremendous opportunities for partnerships across British Columbia’s major business sectors, including tourism. Many businesspeople from UAE have significant business and real estate holdings, including hotels, in British Columbia. Others are looking to invest in tourism products such as resorts and events. Their enthusiasm for BC was infectious.

The priority now is to leverage the contacts our group established with directors of the Canadian Business Council of Dubai, the UAE-Canada Business Council, Visit Dubai, Dubai World Trade Centre, among others and link them with key sector and business leaders in Vancouver and other parts of BC to steadily build long-term relationships that benefit both cities and our province.

Although Dubai is not a key visitor market for BC or Canada (at least not yet), the potential is there especially considering its main airport is the world’s busiest for international passenger volume with easy access to India, Africa, Europe, and now Western Canada. Air Canada anticipates the Vancouver-Dubai route to be immensely popular. Although limited to three times a week seasonal service for now, daily flights are a realistic goal vis-a-vis trade and tourism opportunities between BC and UAE’s largest city in the ner future.

At the rate they’re going, Dubai will have changed significantly again by the time I visit next. The city prides itself on seizing business opportunities, planning/building for the long term, getting things done quickly and easily, securing partnerships, solving problems, and helping entrepreneurs succeed. Notwithstanding other issues the country faces or will need to contend with, from a purely business perspective, it’s a model BC and Canada could stand to learn from.

Everyone we met with was grateful to call Dubai home. By the same token they absolutely love British Columbia and see it as a desired business and leisure destination for Dubai residents, especially during the summer when the desert heat is unbearable.

Several of my new Dubai contacts have already reached out to connect through LinkedIn or other channels. One in particular took a photo of the two of us and linked it to her contact information so I could put a face to the name each time we touch base. Brilliant! Unlike the old friend in the Instagram post that I didn’t recognize, I won’t forget her anytime soon and look forward to establishing a long-term working relationship for the benefit of BC’s visitor economy.

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