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Oct 20, 2023

TIABC Voice of Tourism Newsletter – October 20, 2023

TIABC

CEO MESSAGE

For years I coveted a 1966 Mustang that a friend of mine bought from an elderly neighbour. Although the car’s interior was in perfect shape, the engine and body needed a lot of work. After realizing he was never going to fix it up, my buddy finally sold the old coupe to me.

I proudly drove that car around town for a few weeks before parking it in my garage for the winter with plans to restore it to its original glory. You can probably guess how this story ends given that sometimes good intentions remain just that. In this case, I came to the conclusion that I had neither the expertise nor the time to tackle such a big project so I sold the Mustang to a guy in my neighbourhood.

To this day I regret selling it. I kick myself for not enlisting the help of experts nor having the patience to approach the restoration from a long-term perspective, with slow, steady progress that would eventually result in a beautiful classic drive. I learned my lesson and now embrace the methodical approach for certain projects especially when it comes to advocacy work.

Case in point…I first started working on the short-term rental (STR) file when I started at TIABC in 2015. Back then the crux of the issue was less about housing for workers and more about taxation vis-a-vis online accommodation platforms not paying their fair share of MRDT and PST relative to hotels and motels.

However, as the short-term rental market gained steam, so too did the list of issues. Suffice it to say, for many years TIABC, BCHA, communities and other stakeholders have been calling for stronger regulations pertaining to STRs, primarily to find the right balance between this necessary form of visitor accommodation and housing for tourism workers.

Recently I looked through my files and noted the diligent efforts and incremental progress over the last eight years that transpired in new STR regulations introduced by the province earlier this week. Just last year TIABC submitted a number of policy recommendations to government that mirrored best practices in several jurisdictions (e.g. Quebec) and aligned with our partners at BCHA, as well as UBCM and other business associations.

Among other things, we called for a mandatory principal residence requirement, a central registry for all STR listings, as well as online platform accountability measures including submitting STR data to the province. Two months ago we tendered an updated STR policy brief reflecting new data collected by a BCHA-commissioned McGill study that further illuminated the extent of the short-term rental issue and its impact on housing for residents.

The submission drew the attention of Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon and his policy advisors who we met with on several occasions to review the recommendations and discuss other potential solutions. We also had numerous discussions with Minister Popham and her team at the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport, along with other ministries. Suffice it to say, our collective patience paid off. Not only did many of the regulations match what TIABC and BCHA had proposed, they also take into consideration the needs of resort communities, tourists and other stakeholders in finding a balanced approach (see below for more details).

As I’ve stated before, TIABC is not against short-term rentals. Moreover, we believe this form of tourism accommodation is necessary to welcome visitors, particularly to regions that are currently under-serviced by hotels, motels and campgrounds. At the same time, regulations are necessary to put the brakes on the proliferation of STRs, specifically units rented by commercial operators that have been turned into ghost hotels at the expense of housing for workers. My belief is that the new legislation will definitely help address the issues.

On a related note, I learned recently that there are 79 hotel projects in the pipeline in BC over the next number of years, which is positive news for our industry.

Not that I am bent on buying it back but I often look for my old Mustang whenever I cycle or walk through the neighbourhood. Unfortunately, I have yet to find it. Some days I wonder if the owner of my old car actually fixed it up or if he too decided it was too much and unloaded it. I’m also curious as to whether the buyer is still driving the vehicle as a free man. You see, when we completed the transaction, he counted out a pile of small bills that he subsequently stuffed in a sealed plastic bag before handing the cash over to me. When I opened the package at the bank, the money wreaked of marijuana, which at the time was illegal to possess. Alas, a story for another day.

Walt Judas

CEO, TIABC

Related Posts

TIABC CEO Walt Judas joined Indigenous Tourism BC's Jamie Bourne and TOTA's Robb MacDonald on a panel to discuss sustainability at Tourism Valemount's Celebration of Tourism event over the Victoria Day long weekend. 

Moderated by Valemount Mayor Owen Torgerson, the session also included Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond, Simpcw Chief George Lampreau and Tourism Valemount Executive Director Marcie Down. On Sunday, the group toured popular tourism attractions in the area and also participated in the community's annual Chinook salmon fry release into Swift Creek.
🏒 Even though the Canucks failed to advance past the second round, home playoff games were a good boost for local bars, restaurants, transportation companies and other sectors within Vancouver’s visitor economy.  TIABC CEO Walt Judas was on hand for game 7 against the Oilers along with Air Canada’s Serge Corbeil and Greater Vancouver Board of Trade CEO Bridgitte Anderson.
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