RURAL COMMUNITIES affected by mill closures throughout British Columbia will benefit from $1 million in funding to develop tourism opportunities, creating new jobs for people – so says the BC NDP government of Premier John Horgan.
“British Columbia is an amazing place with unparalleled natural beauty that we are proud to invite the world to come explore”, said Premier John Horgan.
According to a recent government media release, this funding will be provided to the five regional destination marketing organizations (RDMOs). Each RDMO** will receive $200,000 in catalyst funding to support strategic planning and destination development in rural communities impacted by mill closures.
I also feel like the communities that are the most affected, by the forestry issues, are not the ones that are currently being promoted internationally. Most tourism promotion has gone to Whistler, Tofino, and some of the skiing operations in the interior … but very little for the mom and pops that run small independent BC tourism operations.
For many years Destination BC, Hello BC, and all 5 regional tourism associations — have been developing, marketing and promoting their areas of the province to the world – have they not? As someone who was part of an independent online company marketing British Columbia for the first decade of the 2000’s, I can say that is indeed what they were doing.
So, I take umbrage with the comments of Lisa Beare, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, when she says that;
“This funding will help rural communities impacted by mill closures develop new tourism opportunities, create good-paying jobs and give residents access to all the things that make an area attractive to visitors.”
NO, it will not. Rural BC, hard hit by the critical state of BC’s forest industry, and suffering from the loss of thousands of jobs, isn’t (at least in my opinion) going to develop any ‘substantial new tourism opportunities’ from this infusion of money.
Additionally, communities such as Merritt, Clearwater and Wells Grey, Mackenzie, Chasm near Clinton — and a dozen others forest dependent communities and regions — already have active hard-working marketing and tourism organizations outside of the centralized RDMO’s.
Pardon my language, but one million dollars isn’t going to do jack-shit towards what Horgan claims will develop tourism opportunities … and create new jobs for people.
Someone who’s been in business and tourism for over two decades (we’ll call them Mr. Jack Pine) said to me; “This current initiative seems like it’s more for show, than a serious effort at promoting BC tourism”.
Mr. Pine continued, “I also feel like the communities that are the most affected, by the forestry issues, are not the ones that are currently being promoted internationally. Most tourism promotion has gone to Whistler, Tofino, and some of the skiing operations in the interior … but very little for the mom and pops that run small independent BC tourism operations”.
“There is some hard work being done by dedicated people in local associations, but too often the rules of participation and funding are dictated by those at the provincial level, who simply do not understand or appreciate the needs of the vast majority of smaller rural and wilderness operators.
Let me just say it seems like governments (pick one, any one) will spend inordinate amounts of money on ‘planning’ in all manner of things, when common sense instead could be used for a tenth the cost, and the remaining 90 per cent could instead be used in the actual delivery of programs and services.
So, if the intent is to indeed create more tourism jobs in these areas (rather then just say nice words that sound good), what is needed is a promotional campaign targeted to specific countries, that zeroes in on the warmth and hospitality, the cultural events, the recreational opportunities, luxury holidays, and so much more, that is available in these hard hit communities and regions of the province.
And, as Jack stated to me … if the $200,000 — with no strings attached so they can do what needs to be done, in the way it needs to be done — it may well have some impact.
Following this advice might actually create more jobs – at least in tourism – but as for getting BC’s forest industry off life support however? Not so much.
Oh, and one final thing from Jack Pine …
“Let’s just throw a million dollars at it, and we can say we have done something.
Meanwhile we’ll keep cutting old growth forests, spraying interior forests with poisonous herbicides, destroying vital wildlife habitat in a war against aspens and replacing bio diverse natural forests with unnatural, flammable, monoculture tree farms.
BC’s formerly pristine wilderness was our greatest tourism asset. Protecting our forests, waterways and wildlife is the greatest contribution the BC government can make to tourism.
A million dollars thrown at it doesn’t address the real problem”.
** There are five RDMOs in B.C.:
Cariboo Chilcotin Coast – www.landwithoutlimits.com
Kootenay Rockies – www.krtourism.ca
Northern B.C. – www.travelnbc.com
Thompson Okanagan – www.totabc.org
Vancouver Island – www.tourismvi.ca
Alan Forseth is a Kamloops resident and former member of the Reform Party of Canada and the B.C. Reform Party, and a past and current member of the BC Conservative Party. His blog is My Thoughts on Politics and More.