New tourism strategy launching this fall

City council has approved a new tourism strategy following a year of transition prompted by the dissolution of the city’s former economic development arm, Rivercorp.

Since early this year the city, with the help of consultants, the community and local stakeholders, has been exploring a new tourism model for the city. The Campbell River Economic Development Corporation – a wholly-owned company of the city – has been managing the city’s tourism function under a one-year contract.

Council this week, however, approved a strategy that includes a five-year marketing plan and a nine-member advisory committee.

A call for tourism industry representatives to volunteer on the Tourism Advisory Committee (TAC) will be issued later this fall, and a request for proposals for professional tourism marketing services will be issued soon.

The new strategy is aimed at promoting year-round tourism opportunities and building on community partnerships to enhance visitors’ experiences.

Mayor Andy Adams said the goal is to raise awareness of Campbell River as a destination of choice and to increase the number of visits to and extend the length of stays in the community.

“Representatives of the tourism industry, council and the broader community have all confirmed the importance of creating a vibrant, year-round visitor economy that generates jobs, increases revenues for businesses and contributes to local quality of life,” Adams said. “We also recognize the significant economic, arts and cultural contributions of local First Nations and are working to ensure this new tourism strategy is a collaborative initiative that will also enhance and promote First Nations tourism.”

The new strategy includes increased funding for marketing through a three per cent local hotel tax, which was supported by the majority of local accommodation providers, according to Adams.

“The City of Campbell River has applied to the province to implement a three per cent tax on bookings for local hotel/motel rooms to raise additional revenue to support tourism initiatives,” Adams said. “Conservative estimates on annual funding generated through a local hotel tax is in the range of $250,000, an important boost for local tourism promotion. Campbell River is one of the last communities on Vancouver Island to generate this source of revenue, which will expand our capacity to market and promote Campbell River. This new additional funding will come from visitors rather than local taxpayers, and the city will continue to contribute $250,000 annually for local tourism marketing, programs and projects.”

The new tourism strategy was developed over the last six months with extensive input from interested community members, accommodation providers, tourism operators, arts/culture/heritage organizations, business improvement areas and partners such as BC Parks, the Chamber of Commerce and neighbouring communities. Opportunities for community consultation included drop-in open house events, workshops and an online survey.

“All of council appreciates the many members of our community who shared their ideas. All the feedback helped ensure the plan we have now is the best model for tourism services delivery in our community, a plan customized to the unique needs and circumstances of Campbell River,” Adams said.

City Manager Deborah Sargent reinforced that the city’s new tourism strategy was created in consultation with community stakeholders.

“This new plan is grounded in market research and the aspirations of Campbell River’s business owners and residents. It builds on the work by Tourism Campbell River and Region staff, whose dedication carried us through the peak 2016 season, and whose work will wrap up Dec. 31,” Sargent said.

The nine-member Tourism Advisory Committee will make recommendations on marketing investments. Members will be chosen based upon relevant skills.