New tourism sustainability and resilience program for British Columbia

A new tourism sustainability and resilience program is offering training and mentoring opportunities to BC destinations with the aim of supporting a thriving future for tourism across the province.

The program formally kicked off on March 16, 2023, with an introductory webinar on the global picture of tourism and today’s challenges. The webinar featured keynote speakers including the Travel Foundation’s CEO, Jeremy Sampson, and Director of Global Programmes, Elke Dens, as well as other key members of the Travel Foundation team. Throughout the discussion, planning concepts and tips were shared to an audience of more than 60 community stakeholders from across the province. More than 25 communities are participating in the workshop series that starts today and will continue through June 2023.

The program is being delivered by the Travel Foundation in partnership the BC Regional Tourism Secretariat (comprised of 4VI (Vancouver Island), Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association, Kootenay Rockies Tourism Association, Northern BC Tourism Association, and the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association), as well as the Vancouver, Coast & Mountains region of British Columbia.

The capacity-building program aims to ensure that destinations and communities across BC can maximise the benefits of tourism for people and place, supporting organisations of all sizes and with varying mandates to create a strong, resilient, and just future for tourism in the province. This includes advice and guidance that will enable participants to identify and manage potential risks relating to tourism, as well as how to respond to resident, customer, and investor expectations. 

The program involves a series of four online workshops as well as one-to-one coaching for participants who receive access to a comprehensive handbook and workbook exercises, covering topics such as:

  • understanding and managing tourism’s impacts,
  • destination stewardship principles including climate action, diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility,
  • how to support tourism businesses to adapt, and
  • product development and marketing for future-proofing destinations.  

The handbook and training are tailored to BC destinations, providing relevant case studies, examples and responses to the challenges and opportunities facing the province.

Kelly Galaski, program lead from the Travel Foundation said, “At the Travel Foundation, our mission is to work with destinations to ensure that communities can fully benefit from tourism, so we’re excited to be collaborating with tourism leaders across BC on this wide-reaching initiative. The pandemic taught us that for tourism to flourish, we need to be prepared for change, and this includes being prepared for changes to visitor flows and patterns caused by climate change and other future shocks.  This program is both an answer to that need and a chance for destination stakeholders to come together to solve common challenges and ensure a better outcome for diverse communities and livelihoods, as well as the nature that we all depend on.”

Brian Cant, Acting President and CEO of 4VI said, “Communities across the province are already impacted by climate change, which has affected the tourism services and experiences being offered. Through this fully funded program, communities will be able to face these challenges by building a sustainability strategy that looks to adapt and mitigate the global and local impacts of climate change.”

The funding for this initiative is from a multi-million-dollar community revitalisation and tourism relief fund from the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada, which is supporting 21 projects across Vancouver Island and the Coast. The six tourism regions are also contributing to the costs of developing and executing the program.

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