Midnight Musings from our CEO
There is always a level of energy and enthusiasm when a group of tourism industry colleagues gather that I have yet to see duplicated in other type of conference or event.
Thanks to the hard work of many industry partners and sponsors including Tourism Industry Association of BC, Destination BC, Indigenous Tourism BC, Tourism Kelowna, Big White Ski Resort and countless others, too numerous to mention, the Thompson Okanagan region was fortunate to have played host to this year’s Tourism Industry Conference in Kelowna last week.
With well over 350 delegates it was by all accounts a tremendous success. This year there was no shortage of challenging topics to discuss that ranged from proposed Municipal and Regional District Tax (MRDT) funding changes, to Airbnb taxation, the speculation tax, labour and housing shortages and disaster management, to name but a few.
Aboriginal Tourism BC hosted a vibrant opening reception, where they announced their new name, “Indigenous Tourism BC”, aligning with the changes in the Federal Government and other National agencies. On the second evening Big White took the conference up the mountain to try their hand at snowshoeing, sleigh rides, night skiing or just a bit of dining on local food and beverage.
Destination BC laid out their road map for the future as they work collectively with all provincial stakeholders to build a content commonwealth and continue to create a powerful marketing network. As a province we are working smarter and using technology to ensure that we are gaining the edge and building on a philosophy that the “whole is greater than the sum of its parts”.
Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Lisa Beare closed the conference with a number of new initiatives including the establishment of a new tourism advisory committee and a wine and culinary marketing initiative to be launched this spring.
It was a week of dialogue that ranged from informative and educational to challenging and emotional. There were moments of great laughter, followed by stories and messages that brought tears.
One final thought that will stay with me long after this week is behind us were the closing words of retired Fire Chief Darby Allen who lead the community of Fort McMurray through their devastating wildfire in 2016. Shortly after the fire Darby and his family were visiting Bowen island where they came upon a chalk board with these words which sum up so much of the journey for all of us:
“It’s Impossible” – said pride
“It’s Risky” – said experience
“It’s Pointless”- said reason
“Give it a Try” – whispered the heart.
A Few Highlights from this Week’s News Centre…
Coming off an amazing Olympics and tremendous results by Canadian and BC athletes, it is exciting to have the ParaOlympics underway with nearly half of all the athletes having ties to our province (read more); great news for the South Okanagan as the Penticton Airport receives $5 million in funds for much-needed upgrades and expansion (read more); plans for the 2nd annual Craft Beer Festival are underway with more than 700 expected to attend this event June 15-16 (read more).
Read all of this week’s News Centre stories at news.totabc.org
Keep following and contributing to TOTA’s Facebook and Twitter sites throughout the week; send us your stories, photos, events and remarkable experiences. Make sure the industry knows what is happening around our region. Be sure to use #route97 and #explorebc when posting your tourism shots and stories.