Crown corporation for tourism marketing announced

Destination BC to be run by tourism industry

A new Crown corporation has officially been formed to lead tourism destination marketing for the province of British Columbia.

The government has officially incorporated destination B.C. and on Monday (Nov. 5) Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training Pat Bell along with Premier Christy Clark announced the major change in direction for tourism marketing in the province.

Clark said tourism is one of eight export-oriented sectors of the provincial economy that drives growth and it is her goal to increase annual tourism revenues to $18 billion by 2016 from the $13.3 billion in revenues tourism accounted for in 2011.

"Today I am happy to announce Destination BC, a new Crown corporation to market tourism," she said during press conference at the Tourism Industry Association of B.C. (TIABC) conference in Vancouver. "I promised that we would listen to the industry, because I know the best way to make sure tourism in British Columbia works and achieves its potential is to do it together.

"Today I am proud to keep that promise with the establishment of Destination BC."

She said the establishment of an industry-led Crown corporation to market tourism is an example of government taking ideas from the ground up and not the top down. Clark said the new corporation's marketing strategies would reflect the industry's needs and judgments with funding based on performance indicators.

The organizational model was chosen from the recommendations of an industry task force established by TIABC for a new tourism marketing organization.

Chair of the task force Dave Butler said destination marketing is a priority issue for the tourism industry of B.C. and it is pleased with the announcement.

"My colleagues on TIABC's task force, working with government, have expended significant time and resources over the last 15 months to make this a reality. We are excited that this new Crown corporation will now have the opportunity to truly show the world what super, natural B.C. is all about," Butler said.

Bell said what is important about the announcement is that the strategy and plan for Destination BC came from the tourism industry.

"B.C. faces fierce global competition for each and every tourist dollar," Bell said. "But we also have an incredible opportunity as new markets, especially in Asia, emerge. Our new tourism Crown corporation will help the tourism industry take advantage of this opportunity by working better with each other, and with government, to market B.C. as a world-class destination."

Clark said there could not be a better time to start marketing British Columbia, especially in emerging markets like China and India, which have a growing middle class who want to travel and spend money.

"Let's make sure they spend it here in our province," said the premier.

Destination BC will officially take responsibility for operations on April 1, 2013 and for the first year will receive the full funding that government has used for tourism marketing.

After that funding will be set based on a percentage of annual sales tax activity and be included in legislation government the corporation.

The government will approve the organization's goals, objectives and performance measures, service plans and service plan reports. A letter of expectation will establish a mandate and expectations of Destination BC, while government will provide guidelines for executive compensation and board remuneration as with other Crown corporations.

Organizational performance measures will be established related to administrative costs, stakeholder support, satisfaction surveys and tourism performance measure with relation to growth in visits and ratio of leveraging for marketing investments.

Destination BC's board will be required to establish a tourism marketing committee to advise it on priorities, performance indicators and a cost sharing formula to leverage the corporation's investments.

The committee will include three members from each of the six regional marketing associations in the province while performance expectation will be set out in formal contracts between the corporation and the regional organizations.

"This is great news and is a huge step forward for tourism in this province," said TIABC board chair Lana Denon. "This has been - and continues to be - a priority issue for the tourism industry in this province, and we are very pleased that the new organization will be business-led, fully accountable to industry and taxpayers, with formula investments."

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