Vancouver Island Visitor Centre, Comox Valley. (Supplied by Discover Comox Valley)
Visitor Centres across the province, including on Vancouver Island, are getting a financial shot in the arm from Destination BC.
Each will benefit from $130,000 (up to $1,000 per Visitor Centre) to ensure physical distancing and heightened sanitation measures within their facilities.
There are 130 community-owned Visitor Centres throughout the province that make up the Visitor Services Network Program.
Last year, they served over 2.9 million visitors at their locations, and around their communities.
According to Destination BC, Visitor Centre staff “are important front line advocates for tourism and provide practical advice to locals – to show them how to be a tourist in their hometown, to reignite interest in their museums, galleries, and cultural sites, to direct residents to open parks, beaches, and outdoor spaces, and to support the small tourism businesses that are the foundation of our industry – all while adhering to the provincial health directives that are in place to protect us all.”
“As we head toward summer, we want Visitor Centres in communities all around BC to feel ready and willing to showcase their local areas, when the time is right,” said Marsha Walden, CEO of Destination BC.
“This one-time grant to support health and safety measures ensures visitors, staff, and volunteers can feel comfortable interacting with others. Visitor Centres provide British Columbians with travel information as they explore locally. We want to help ensure our communities continue to reap the economic benefits of tourism, and this funding supports the well-being of all British Columbians as they continue to explore local.”
The Visitor Services Network was created in 1986 with a mandate to ensure that exemplary visitor services are delivered, using a multi-channel approach, based on our visitors’ information needs when and where they are needed.
In 2019, roughly 50 per cent of visitation to Visitor Centres were from British Columbians.
Destination BC will continue to support BC’s tourism industry by providing access to resources and tools, training programs, program modifications, and insights for small- and medium-sized enterprises, throughout the transition.
British Columbia’s tourism industry generated revenue of $20.5 billion in 2018, an increase of 4.9 per cent over 2017, and a 53.3 per cent increase from 2008.
There were 19,329 tourism-related businesses in B.C., in 2018, employing over 161,500 people and paying $6 billion in wages and salaries.
In 2019, the majority of BC’s visitation was domestic: 74 per cent of all visitors to BC were Canadians. These domestic visitors contributed 49 per cent of tourism revenues in our province. Most tourism businesses buy goods locally, hire locally, and retain their profits locally.
In this region, you can find visitor centres in Courtenay, Campbell River, Powell River, and Port Hardy.