Tourism Victoria membership still contentious for some cities

Not all municipalities willing to pay for Victoria-based tourist marketing

Not all municipalities willing to pay for Victoria-based tourist marketing

Talk to any district on the Island and you’ll hear pride swell as mayors and residents boast about their city’s prized attractions.

Oak Bay shines for its star park at Cattle Point, Langford puffs out its chest about hosting Rugby Canada, Colwood salutes its historic virtues of Fort Rodd Hill, while Sooke bows to its glorious natural reserves and Saanich brags about its Uptown shopping mecca.

And, of course, Victoria smooths back its regal quaff to draw a postcard-perfect picture of everything touristy in the capital city.

Tourism remains the biggest industry of the South Island region, yet a heated debate has trailed the 13 municipalities that rely on a tourist economy to host world-class exhibits – who pays to ensure tourists turn their heads?

Although Tourism Victoria catapults its power around the globe, not everyone thinks aligning with the group is beneficial.

“Tourism Victoria is a membership-based organization, and our approach to tourism is to market the destination in a holistic manner,” said Tourism Victoria board chair Dave Cowen.

“We promote the Craigdarroch Castle, Butchart Gardens, the Fisgard Lighthouse, and all of those places take visitors around the area and away from the downtown core.”

Victoria has had some form of tourism bureau since 1901, but Tourism Victoria in its current form has been around for almost 40 years. The not-for-profit is funded through membership fees, grants from Victoria and Saanich (at $47,000 and $36,000) and a special hotel tax from the two communities that bring in about $2 million annually. The Visitor Services portion of the organization also receives a provincial grant, giving Tourism Victoria an operating budget of $4.2 million.

Though it sounds like a lot of money, the organization creates more than glossy brochures — it markets the region around the world and facilitates partnerships with places as far as Europe and Asia.

“We are of the opinion that a strong tourist industry, that might appear to be centered in Victoria, is helpful to all the municipalities, and we think we have a responsibility to work together here,” said District of Saanich Coun. Susan Brice, chair of the finance committee. “Pooling our money with all the communities is the only way to focus our efforts effectively.”

The City of Victoria, District of Saanich, District of Oak Bay, Township of Esquimalt, Town of Sidney, Town of View Royal believe the cost is well worth the gains. But while the City of Langford also holds membership, the area mines a different philosophy – and collects a hotel tax which it does not contribute to Tourism Victoria.

“There is no real benefit for us, from our point of view,” said Langford Mayor Stew Young.

“Victoria’s focus is tourism, and they’re great at doing what they do down there, but we don’t have those kind of hotels and touristy things here. Our focus is on sports tourism, and making this the best possible community for the residents who already live here.”

Young said Langford’s hotel tax, which largely comes from pro sports teams and conferences that make their way to the Bear Mountain Arena, directly funds the Langford Sport Authority which markets the home of Rugby Canada and all the district’s sporting potential. Funds also support community-improvement projects and economic developments.

“Why would we give Victoria our money and then try to tell them to spend it on us?” said Young. “It’s not like Victoria is telling tourists ‘Go to Langford.’”

news@mondaymag.com

Next issue: the City of Victoria weighs in on the fairness of divided municipal support while Sooke shows concern for a lack of representation.

Just Posted

The Greater Victoria Rent Bank has seen an overwhelming need for financial assistance by renters. (Black Press Media file photo)
Funding will allow Greater Victoria Rent Bank to operate until March 2022

More than $300,000 distributed to 200 renters in program’s first 10 weeks

Kay Gallivan paints a mural on the east wall of North Park’s Tiny Home Village (Kiernan Green / Victoria News Staff)
North Park Tiny Home Village opens at Royal Athletic Park lot to 30 unhoused

Residents will settle into new private units and the North Park community over the weekend

Carey Newman resigned from the Greater Victoria School District’s Indigenous Ad Hoc Committee May 13, citing ‘a pattern of systemic racism.’ (Black Press Media file photo)
‘Pattern of systemic racism’: SD61 Indigenous committee member resigns, calls for change

More than 350 people had added their names in support by midday Friday

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of May 11

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
MISSING: Salt Spring RCMP find woman’s car, still seek Island resident

Sinikka Gay Elliott is 5’3” with a slim build and dark brown short hair

A Saanich man received almost 10 years in Supreme Court in Courtenay for a shooting incident from 2018. Record file photo
Shooting incident on Island nets almost 10-year sentence

Saanich man was arrested without incident north of Courtenay in 2018

Bradley Priestap in an undated photo provided to the media some time in 2012 by the London Police Service.
Serial sex-offender acquitted of duct tape possession in B.C. provincial court

Ontario sex offender on long-term supervision order was found with one of many ‘rape kit’ items

Rich Coleman, who was responsible for the gaming file off and on from 2001 to 2013, was recalled after his initial testimony to the Cullen Commission last month. (Screenshot)
Coleman questioned over $460K transaction at River Rock during B.C. casinos inquiry

The longtime former Langley MLA was asked about 2011 interview on BC Almanac program

Steven Shearer, <em>Untitled. </em>(Dennis Ha/Courtesy of Steven Shearer)
Vancouver photographer’s billboards taken down after complaints about being ‘disturbing’

‘Context is everything’ when it comes to understanding these images, says visual art professor Catherine Heard

Most Read