Tourism officials review concept

Destination B.C. hopes it and the tourism sector will get more bang for its marketing bucks.

  • Dec. 7, 2014 10:00 a.m.

JOE FRIES

Black Press

Tourism officials in the Okanagan are cautiously optimistic about a proposed concept that would streamline the sector’s government-funded marketing programs.

By collapsing a patchwork of funding opportunities into just two targeted pools of money, Destination B.C. hopes it and the tourism sector will get more bang for its marketing bucks.

“All of these programs have industry at the centre where we’re putting together programs that represent industry or have industry able to buy in to reach their targeted consumer,” Richard Lewis, the agency’s director of sector development, told the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association summit Wednesday in Penticton.

The concept would see all provincial marketing money directed into two streams: one devoted to strategic priorities of skiing, aboriginal tourism, and touring and exploring; and the other for consortiums of three or more communities, regions or industry sectors.

Lewis said Destination B.C. will be collecting feedback until the spring, when it hopes to roll out a final version of the plan in time to accept applications in next fall.

Ange Chew, tourism manager for the City of Vernon, is concerned about smaller communities or consortiums being able to come up with funds necessary to match the proposed $25,000 minimum for new programs.

“But that’s the discussion here and hopefully that can be sorted and we can get our feedback heard and maybe there can be some adjustments so that we can partner together,” she said.

TOTA CEO Glen Mandziuk said all of the financial concerns are legitimate and his group will push hard to make sure its partners’ voices are heard during the consultation process. However, he supports the new, simplified approach over what’s in place today.

“There may be too many programs that have differing guidelines, so people don’t know where they fit, so that might be a problem,” he said of the current system.

“It’s healthy to review programs every so often.”

Destination B.C. executive director Marsha Walden said the agency currently provides about $5 million annually for tourism marketing and hopes to free up an additional $2 million to roll out the new program in 2017.