Following on a drastic decline in provincial tourism numbers this year Premier Christy Clark announced Tuesday a “new” marketing strategy to counter the tumble. But has she gone far enough to spark a rebound? Clark and Minister Pat Bell think so.
Tourism in British Columbia has been in the tank for several years with steady declines in numbers at most tourism sites.
Double digit drops have been the norm and in 2011 facilities such as provincial heritage sites saw declines of as much as 30%, so severe that some sites have to consider closing.
Merritt recently announced that though revenues were up, visitation was down 11%. According to NDP figures international visitors to Canada increased by approximately 36,000, but BC saw a drop of 40,000, according to ministry statistics.
This is the opposite of what, then Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts Kevin Kruger said we could expect following the Olympics.
The massive post Olympic spin-off projections never came to fruition. Some folks blame this, in part, on the demise of Tourism BC in 2009, when the provincial government, and Minister Kruger, absorbed the organization of tourism regions, such as CCCTA, into their bureaucracy, ostensibly to control the Olympic tourism message. It has been downhill ever since.
Now Premier Clark and Minister Bell have announced that under the Jobs Plan, “Gaining the Edge: A Five-Year Strategy for Tourism in British Columbia,” BC will have a
priority of “attracting more tourists from countries with large emerging middle classes, such as China and India.”
The strategy will target a five per cent annual growth in tourism sector revenue, which is expected to reach $18 billion annually by 2016.
Announced Tuesday Oct. 25, the strategy does not have a dollar figure attached to the program, although a targeted ski marketing campaign will spend $1.1 million in the Toronto area this winter.
Tourism industry leaders were suspecting, and perhaps hoping, that today’s announcement would see a return to the Tourism BC model of marketing delivery. It appears this will not happen. Tourism facilities can only hope that Gaining the Edge, will help steer the downhill visitation trend into a sweeping uphill turn.