An overview of Vancouver’s first ever Tourism Master Plan was debuted yesterday by Mayor Gregor Robertson, Tourism Vancouver board chair R. Gordon Johnson and president and CEO Rick Antonson at Tourism Vancouver’s 110th annual general meeting. The AGM took place at the Vancouver Playhouse and was attended by more than 300 members of the regional tourism industry.
The Tourism Master Plan is a joint effort by Tourism Vancouver, the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Economic Commission to guide the development of the city’s tourism industry in a coordinated and forward-looking way. The plan is intended to analyze gaps, identify opportunities and establish priorities to ensure the tourism industry grows in an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable manner.
The planning process started over a year ago and has involved more than 180 one-on-one interviews with tourism industry members and stakeholders, a comprehensive online survey of more than 2,000 people (both residents and industry), two open houses, and a review of more than 400 documents and reports. Resonance Consultancy, a world-recognized leader in destination planning and strategy, was engaged to lead the process under the guidance of a steering committee made up of senior city and tourism officials. The final plan will be released to the public in July.
Yesterday’s AGM introduced the recommendations that came out of the Tourism Master Plan’s eight areas of focus: product development, events, visitor experience design, neighbourhoods, tourism infrastructure development, transportation, advocacy and public affairs, and partnerships and alliances.
These recommendations included establishing a product development strategy to support existing attractions and create new tourism concepts; creating a dedicated events organization to lead, organize and manage citywide efforts in delivering year-round events; and creating a neighbourhood marketing council with Business Improvements Areas to promote the diversity of neighbourhoods in Vancouver.
The eight recommendations from the plan cover these areas:
- The initiation of a product development strategy in 12 areas of opportunity
- The establishment of an events organization to facilitate the delivery of cultural, sports and signature events around the year, particularly in Q1 and Q4
- The comprehensive assessment of the visitor experience, including journey mapping, digital visitor experience, hosting, sustainability and wayfinding.
- The creation of a neighbourhood marketing council with BIAs to promote cultural diversity and consider key neighbourhoods as tourism destinations
- The planning and backing of key development opportunities for tourism infrastructure, including Granville Island, NE False Creek and the creation of a “Tourism Corridor” on Georgia Street.
- The incorporation of the needs of visitors into public and private transportation, particularly with regards to late night public transportation and walkability issues.
- The alignment of advocacy interests of tourism partners for the benefit of visitors and the industry, particularly on issues such as liquor and alcoholic beverages, tourism workforce development and aviation.
- The formalization of an ongoing group of city, industry and tourism partnership to oversee master plan actions and report back to industry and residents.
“Tourism is one of Vancouver’s most exciting and significant industries, supporting over 28,000 jobs in our city” said Mayor Gregor Robertson at yesterday’s event. “Building on the incredible success of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, it is an industry with vast potential for growth and one that merits the full ongoing support of government partners. It is important that we come together to ensure coordinated development that meets the future needs of residents, visitors, investors and other stakeholders in showcasing Vancouver to the world.”
“The tourism sector is a 2.7 billion dollar industry for Vancouver,” said Joan Elangovan, CEO of the Vancouver Economic Commission. “It showcases the city’s innovative culture, its entrepreneurial spirit and investor-friendly business climate. We look forward to continuing to work with Tourism Vancouver and our business community to continue to grow our local economy.”
The action for a Tourism Master Plan came out of Rethink Vancouver, a Tourism Vancouver-led industry collaboration started in 2010 that identified steps to help Vancouver achieve its goal of becoming a “World City.”
“Rethink Vancouver and the Tourism Master Plan are monumental steps for Vancouver,” said Rick Antonson, Tourism Vancouver’s president and CEO. “The Tourism Master Plan sets both future benchmarks and shared ambitions that will help guide the tourism planning process in years to come. We are particularly heartened by how closely the interests of local residents align with the tourism industry.”
The AGM also introduced Tourism Vancouver’s 2013/14 Board of Directors. Incoming chair Bob Lindsay, owner/operator of Lift Bar, Grill, View will lead a 15-member board made up of prominent members of the tourism industry.
Tourism Vancouver’s focus is on building exceptional customer relationships with meeting planners, travel influencers, travel media and independent tourists. The organization’s brand essence is about “exceeding expectations.”
Image by C. Foster