EDITORIAL: Tourism strategy must be regional

Working together in lean times is the key to riding out tourism storm

Efficiency is a buzzword around government these days, as it is in the private sector. In B.C. that scenario isn’t expected to end any time soon, regardless which party settles into office after the May provincial election.

The beleaguered tourism industry in Greater Victoria and the rest of the province continue to be subject to such funding restraints. With sluggish economies prompting people to spend less on travel, local tourism promoters must get even more creative in marketing the area to potential visitors.

That doesn’t necessarily mean coming up with more grabby slogans – remember Tourism Victoria’s “Your search for the perfect orgasm is over” campaign? It means looking at new ways of doing more with less.

Time will tell whether the Liberals’ creation of Destination B.C. is just pre-election window dressing or a serious effort to enhance the marketing efforts of the many regional and community destination marketing organizations in the province.

In the meantime, local and regional groups can take steps to improve their own lot by teaming with neighbouring organizations to market Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland better. Rather than waiting for the post-2010 Olympics ripple to come, why not work together to remind the visitors who came to Vancouver and Whistler, but were focused on the Games, how great our region is?

Tourism Victoria has done a good job attracting people here from relatively nearby locales – Western Canada and the U.S. West Coast. But at a time when gaining a share of people’s limited travel budgets is becoming more difficult and competitive, a consistent, joint action plan – perhaps one that casts the net farther – could attract new visitors and provide enough stimulus to help get everyone through the lean times.

We can’t expect government to lay all the groundwork for the industry and create a perfect environment for entrepreneurship.

That has to be done by businesspeople who see opportunities and work hard to create a place for themselves in an industry that continues to be one of B.C.’s biggest economic generators.

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