The NDP’s critic for tourism, culture and the arts stopped in Hope on Monday to discuss the state of tourism in the region with local organizations and operators.
Spencer Chandra Herbert, MLA for Vancouver-West End, met with about two dozen people to find out what areas need to be addressed. He acknowledged the industry’s uncertainty due to government funding cuts and the loss of Tourism BC, an industry-led organization. The province took over marketing tourism prior to the 2010 Winter Olympics.
“I believe the tourism industry is better at marketing itself than the government could ever be,” said Herbert, noting collaboration and creativity need to be pursued.
“Culture, history and heritage – I think we forget they can be economic generators.”
A variety of issues were discussed at the meeting including the need for formula funding, tourism skills training, expanded provincial park operating seasons, increased support for historic sites, and better signage for scenic and historic attractions. Designating the Fraser Canyon as a historic route was also proposed.
“We really need some focus on how to develop new products and enhance existing products so that we drive more traffic up Highway 1 and the Fraser Canyon,” said Kevan Ridgeway, president and CEO of Vancouver, Coast & Mountains tourism region. “There are gaps that we need to fill in order to continue to attract visitation and build for the future.”