When we speak of Tofino, we think of storm watching; Campbell River and salmon fishing; Victoria and the Butchart Gardens and quaint English traditions. When we speak of Comox we think of the military base. When we speak of Cumberland and Courtenay? Not much comes to mind.
We are not well marketed and we are not focused as a destination.
Prior to moving to the Comox Valley, as a Canadian from east of the Rockies I had heard of Comox in relation to the base but I had no idea where Courtenay was located or even that it was on Vancouver Island. Marketing is about tourism and tourism means jobs. Places like Banff, Alberta, Tofino and Whistler rely heavily on tourism to support their economies. I ask you what they have that we don’t? Beautiful vistas? We’ve got that. Downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, showshoeing? We’ve got that. Fishing, boating, kayaking? Yes we have that as well. Hiking, biking, golf and curling? Have I missed anything? We’ve got it all. So why hasn’t the world heard about us and why aren’t they coming here in large numbers? Because we are fragmented in our approach and thus we are poorly marketed as a destination, perhaps?
So how do we attract the world to our door?
We approach tourism like we approach our provincial and federal governments in a piecemeal manner. Think of our strength if we were to speak with one voice. We need, perhaps even demand that our local governments explore ways to amalgamate. As one large municipality with a ward representation based on population, we can eliminate the huge waste currently happening with duplicated services. Instead of speaking to the provincial government from a population of 28,000 people, we can speak as a population of 70,000 people. They might even listen to us.
If we are serious about reducing taxes; increasing opportunities for youth to find jobs here at home; expanding facilities for seniors and the homeless and supporting business in our downtown cores we have to come together with one voice.