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Laurel Cronk joins city’s tourism advisory committee

Longtime bike tour operator focused on expanding ‘experiential’ tourism
Laurel Cronk, founder of bike tour company Island Joy Rides, is the newest member of Campbell River’s Tourism Advisory Committee. Photo by Sean Feagan / Campbell River Mirror.

At a time when Campbell River’s tourism industry is looking to right its course from pandemic turmoil, there is a new hand on deck.

Laurel Cronk, a 30-year resident of Campbell River who has operated a bike touring company for the past decade, is the newest member of the city’s Tourism Advisory Committee.

Cronk founded her company, Island Joy Rides, as a way of sharing with others her passion: experiencing local sights, sounds, and culinary triumphs by bike.

“I started it as an opportunity to bring together all the really cool things that happen in an area — take people to those highlights, and share with them the food and other things that make it so special,” she said.

The past two years have been devastating for the tourism industry globally — and Campbell River is no exception. Despite this, local tourism outfits have shown they are resilient and adaptive, she said.

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But as local businesses and operators look to recover as the pandemic (hopefully) wanes, forming strong partnerships will be key, she said. This is something Cronk is versed in, as developing such relationships has been key to the success of her own company.

“I’ve always had to have partners, because I’m just the link to all of these great things they provide,” she said.

Cronk thinks the pandemic has changed what many tourists value — and businesses should be ready to respond.

“People are going to be different,” she said. “They are going to have a higher demand for customer service, and they’re going to have a higher demand for cleanliness as well,” she said.

Tourists are also increasingly seeking more immersive experiences, rather than just visits to the typical hotspots for a quick look around.

“Immersion enhances our senses — and that is really what we remember,” she said.

Cronk said a chance to experience natural wonders will continue to be Campbell River’s main selling point for tourists.

“They’re coming for nature — they want photography opportunities, they want to get out to see the whales, and they want to see salmon swimming up the river,” she said.

But so too will be the city’s culture.

“We can focus on our community, our diversity, our Indigenous cultures — there are so many opportunities here,” she said. “We’re small enough that visitors can meet our locals, meet our community, and be shown all these extra-special, little things.”

The Tourism Advisory Committee provides advice and recommendations to city council to deliver the community’s tourism vision and promote the city as a destination.

“Committee members generously share their time, experience and expertise to enhance committee discussions, and we value their input and recommendations,” said Mayor Andy Adams, in a Jan. 25 news release announcing Cronk’s appointment.

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