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Chamber backs B.C. tourism change

Destination BC, the new tourism corporation announced this week by the Premier Christy Clark was welcomed by Chilliwack’s Chamber of Commerce.

“Destination BC will ensure that the marketing of B.C.’s tourism sector will be led by tourism professionals in the private sector, in combination with protected funding from the B.C. Legislature,” said Patti MacAhonic, executive director of the Chilliwack Chamber.

She said the creation of Destination BC was “due to heavy lobbying” by Chambers of Commerce across the province for predictable, legislated funding for a destination marketing organization with leadership by tourism professionals.

“The funding model and sector-based leadership of this new Crown corporation flow directly from policy of the BC Chamber of Commerce,” she said.

Three years ago, the B.C. Liberal government scrapped Tourism BC, citing administrative costs and the coming Olympic Games.

But on Monday, Premier Clark reversed that decision, apparently after complaints raised by the tourism industry.

Clark said the new organization was designed by tourism operators “who know first-hand how a tourism marketing organization should be structured to help them grow their industry and create jobs.

“With Asia’s middle-class rapidly expanding and becoming more and more interested in tourism opportunities, this is our time to get out there and start marketing British Columbia,” she said.

Destination BC’s structure will provide more responsiveness to the tourism industry and increase accountability to taxpayers, according to a government news release.

The Destination BC board will be required to establish a Tourism Marketing Committee, with three nominees from each of the six regional marketing associations in B.C., to advise directors on marketing priorities, performance indicators and cost-sharing formula to leverage the corporation’s investments.

BC Tourism Minister Pat Bell said in the release that there is “fierce global competition for each and every tourist dollar” and the new Crown corporation will help the tourism industry work better with government to market B.C. as “a world-class destination.”

Tourism Chilliwack officials were not available for comment at press time.

Starting April 1, Destination BC will get all the funding that government was spending on tourism marketing, and future funding will be based on a percentage of annual sales tax.

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