Destination BC is born

Far more than a remake of Tourism BC, task force chair Dave Butler says

What’s in a name? Premier Christy Clark announced this week that a new Crown corporation to market British Columbia as a tourist destination has been created — Destination B.C.

But Columbia River – Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald (NDP) says that it is simply Tourism BC reborn, by the same BC Liberals who scrapped it three years ago.

At the time, Gordon Campbell was Premier and Tourism BC was folded into the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Arts in order to reduce administrative costs, allow for better co-ordination of marketing initiatives and make it easier to ensure the entire province benefits from the 2010 Olympic Games.

That certainly didn’t happen, Macdonald says.

“Marketing that should have been done wasn’t done,” he said.  “Destination BC is the same thing as Tourism BC. They’ve gone back to it after realizing that folding it was a mistake.”

Premier Clark told CBC News that she wasn’t in office, but disagreed with the move at the time.

However, Dave Butler of Cranbrook, who is chair of the Tourism Industry of BC Provincial Destination Marketing Organization Task Force, which worked on developing Destination BC for 15 months, says the new Crown corporation has some significant differences from Tourism BC.

One of those changes will be far more accountability.

“We took the best of the old model,” Butler said. “But Destination BC will be run by a business board focused on fiduciary responsibility. There were some problems with the last couple of models. The challenge in the current ministry model is that government staff was making marketing decisions. We said ‘Look, we need to look at all the previous models and find what worked and what didn’t.”

The Board will be business led and made up of people who meet a certain skills matrix, Butler said.

“This is a business board that runs the organization, not necessarily all tourism people,” he said. “We might need someone with significant understanding of financial matters, we might need a lawyer, maybe someone with significant experience in board governance. Those are the type of skills we will be looking for.”

It’s a multi-million dollar corporation, he said, and must be managed as such.

Butler’s task force will identify likely prospects for the Board and give the Ministry 27 names from which a nine-person board will be created.

Funding will flow from Destination BC to regional destination marketing organizations (DMO) such as Kimberley-based Kootenay Rockies Tourism, Butler said. Regional DMOs will also have the opportunity to sit on another key piece of the new Crown corporation — a new Tourism Marketing Committee.

“Funding for regional DMOs like Kootenay Rockies Tourism will flow down from Destination BC to the regions. That will be done in a transparent, contractual way. There will be a contract with expectations on both sides with annual and regular reporting.”

So it is not in fact, a revival of Tourism BC, but a new entity that the tourism industry has been working hard to achieve, Butler says.

“This is a huge step forward. We are very pleased. It’s a whole new level of marketing.”

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