Bob Barnett hits on some very relevant points in his editorial "Tourism industry on its own in post-Olympic world" (Opening Remarks July 21, 2010). The most salient, in my view, is "We are not in it alone but it is such a diverse 'industry' that getting everyone moving in the same direction can be difficult." I might add that the tourism sector is made up of a large number of fiercely independent, entrepreneurial operators who consistently are shifting to find their own sweet spot.
One challenge not addressed is that our competition, around the world, is just like us. The result is that the world is an ever-changing place with no shortage of tourism opportunities for local and international visitors. With an increasingly competitive global tourism climate, innovation in our own market is not enough; better innovation than our competition is what is required. And that requires strategy, cohesion and support of each other.
The 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games came just in the nick of time. Faced with a massively global recession, the likes of which has never before been seen, our province was poised to make the best of a bad situation. While I cannot say that we can commend our federal and provincial governments for seeing it coming (who did?) you must admit it is a good thing they had a plan underway.
Barnett points out that policy and infrastructure are vital to our diverse industry. I won't begin to list the plethora of forward looking investments that the province convinced the federal government to commit to alongside our industry. They have all been complained about by some group, within or outside our industry. And yet these investments started to pay dividends during the Games and will continue to for decades to come.
And let's not forget that many tourism businesses were not happy even before the Games.
Let me say that doing things the way we always have, in an environment that is ever changing, just does not make sense. Barnett points out that Tourism Whistler and its partners have wisely taken a step back to regroup and determine the new landscape. So too must the CTC. Yes, partnerships will be the key. But getting back to the first point, partnerships only work if all partners are pulling in the same direction. We have far too many examples where the industry cannot agree within its own ranks.
To this end consider what the provincial government has done. Within government there are numerous ministries and departments that are vital to the success of tourism. It is likely the most complex sector of the economy. B.C. had a marketing agency that was operating separately from their government cohorts that our industry relies upon. Now there is a more cohesive group within government with a Deputy who can dialogue, with authority, with her counterparts. Unlike the CTC there have been no layoffs. Of the staff that departed all but the leader were voluntary.