The Vancouver Island Visitor Centre was packed with about 145 enthusiastic Comox Valley businesspeople last Wednesday for the annual Tourism Industry Forum.
Hosted by Discover Comox Valley, the event provided a chance for Valley businesses big and small to learn about regional marketing and tourism development initiatives, provide input and network with each other.
“It’s interesting to see … all the different players that are here,” said Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce board chair Tracey McGinnis, noting she saw people from the hotel industry to food to recreation at the forum. “It feels like they’re talking to all the groups and saying, ‘What do you need? What do you want to see?’ They’re trying to get input from everybody. It sounds like a really positive move forward.”
Bill Anglin, chair of the newly formed Comox Valley Destination Marketing Advisory Committee, urged attendees to let committee members know of any ideas they have before he introduced the keynote speaker, Destination BC board chair Andrea Shaw.
She gave an update on the newly formed Crown corporation in her keynote speech, noting committees, including a 19-member Tourism Marketing Committee, have now been established and the board expects to have a CEO hired by the end of October at the latest. Immediately after that, she said, strategic planning will begin, and she expects the vision will be bold.
“I think that we have to have a bold and daring and courageous vision that will set us apart, and take the product that’s in our backyard and absolutely showcase it to the world, to Canada, to our province,” she told the packed room. “And I think, together, we can absolutely do that.
“We want to work with you and really develop and capitalize on the opportunity that sits right before all of us.”
Sponsored by Dawn Ringrose & Associates Inc., the event featured information stations like Tourism Vancouver Island, Tourism Mount Washington, Comox Valley Land Trust, Downtown Courtenay Business Improvement Association, 2014 Visitor Services Program, Comox Valley Gateway Signage Committee and culinary/agritourism event opportunities.
Attendee Dawn McRae, owner of Custom Gourmet Catering and Personal Chef Services, said she was glad she went to the event, noting the culinary opportunities in the Valley are immense.
“I think just the way that — getting tourism here to combine the food and farm together into one, with all the hotels and everything else that we have going on, and all the wineries, it’s a great opportunity,” she said. “Today, I’ve met some key players that are in those positions that will help bring us to that next level that we need to take it to.”
Island Mountain Rides owner/operator Martin Ready was also pleased he went to the forum, noting the networking opportunities.
“It’s good for me to know other people in the community, whether it’s hoteliers or people that are doing adventure tours, or whatever, just to let them know that I’m operating, that there’s an option for mountain bike tours in the Valley,” he said, adding that because his marketing is mostly web-based many local businesses don’t know it exists.
“So it’s nice for me to get out and meet people personally, and if they’re, say the manager of a hotel or restaurant, and they get people in that are doing mountain biking, that they can recommend my business to them.”
The Comox Valley Economic Development Society’s five-year strategic plan was also on display at the forum. To view the strategic plan, visit www.investcomoxvalley.com.
The new 11-member Comox Valley Destination Marketing Advisory Committee had its first meeting in early April, and is focused on updating a draft 2014 Destination Marketing Tactical Plan.