With a sunny and clear-skied backdrop atop the Sea to Sky Gondola, the federal government announced more funding for tourism in the province.
Member of Parliament for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country, Patrick Weiler, announced, at the news conference on Oct. 11 in Squamish, that over $1 million would be shared among the Indigenous Tourism Association of British Columbia (ITBC), BC Parks Foundation and Tourism Bowen Island
“Canada has what the world wants to experience,” said Weiler. “We’ve got a world-class tourism destination with something for everyone.”
The projects supported by the investment vary.
About $500,000 will be allocated to the ITBC to develop the Invest in Iconics strategy to grow Indigenous tourism. Another $360,000 will go to technology development for tours and information about B.C. Parks. Lastly, $158,000 will help develop a sustainable destination management plan for Bowen Island
“In many cases, tourism is actually busier than before, so this gave us time to rethink what tourism should be in our communities,” said Weiler. “How does tourism not lead us to loving our trails too much? How do we make sure that tourism actually supports our communities?”
It was these questions that guided the development of the current tourism growth strategy, he continued.
“In fact, promoting sustainability was one of the most important things we heard in consultation during this strategy.”
All of the projects have an eye toward sustainability.
The Invest in Iconics strategy hopes to “increase tourism revenue and visitation responsibly and sustainably” across the province, according to ITBC's website. This includes respect and support for Indigenous perspectives.
Andrew Day, the CEO of the BC Parks Foundation, said they also have sustainability in mind.
Although it is still in its testing stage, the development of discoverparks.ca already has some information to peruse. Day said the site will help people find self-guided tours in B.C. Parks or programs put on by ambassadors.
It will also share information about the area, learn ways to take care of the environment and give back. Day said the goal is to connect people more meaningfully to the region.
“Sharing our values, sharing our stories, sharing our passion is what will enable residents and other visitors who enjoy these places to feel connected to them and to give back,” said Day. “It's that reciprocity that will make the tourism industry more sustainable.”
Lastly, Weiler said the funding for Tourism Bowen Island is about ensuring that tourism supports the community.
All the funds came from the federal Tourism Relief Fund, which invested $500 million starting in 2021 to help tourism after COVID-19.