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Q&A Marsha Walden – CEO Destination BC

New CEO says tourism is about creating experiences



Seven months after taking the helm of Destination B.C., new CEO Marsha Walden is all confidence.

"Whistler seems to be having a good season so far from some of the early indicators," she said.

"The province is doing well, the hotels seem to be doing well, so all signs are up."

But when the province you're marketing contains coastlines, mountains and unprecedented Canadian beauty, it's easy to be confident — even in the face of mounting competition.

After making her inaugural address to the Vancouver Board of Trade recently, Walden spoke to Pique about marketing, Whistler and how to stay competitive in an increasingly connected world.

Pique: Seven months on the job so far, what would you say is the current state of the tourism industry in B.C?

Marsha Walden: "Well I guess I would say the prospects are excellent. There's lots of really encouraging signs. The rate of growth is improving, the U.S. dollar is strengthening, which is always good for tourism in our province, the overseas market is continuing to grow, China in particular is just growing exponentially, so all signs are up and extremely positive."

Pique: How big of a role does Whistler play in B.C. Tourism?

MW: "Well it's really an iconic experience for British Columbia, certainly post-Olympics and even prior. It's very well recognized globally, continues to be one of the world's top resorts, and is part of what we call the golden triangle — a vast number of our visitors really want to see Vancouver, Victoria, Whistler, and that's a really popular route for touring, and now that Whistler is an all-season resort, it's just growing and growing in visitor interest."

Pique: What do big projects like the new Sea to Sky Gondola do for tourism and marketing?

MW: "They do an awful lot, because coming to any destination is all about the experiences that you can have, and when you have remarkable ones like the new Sea to Sky Gondola, it really enhances the overall appeal of that route, and of everything up and down the golden triangle and beyond. The media and trade tours that we've done of that site so far this year have just garnered incredible enthusiasm and interest from not only media such as Esquire and Calgary Herald and Globe and Mail and all the others that have seen it, but the trade overseas that brings tours here, so I think it has excellent prospects for becoming part of an overall experience when people are in and around this part of the province."

Pique: Festival season is right around the corner, how do events like the Pemberton Music Festival and Squamish Valley Music Festival benefit the province?


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