EDITORIAL: Victoria’s tourism industry at a crossroads

Relative upswing in tourism, resignation of Tourism Victoria CEO, means organization must be even more selective about replacement boss

In recent years, a number of factors have come into play that have hindered the tourism industry in Greater Victoria.

Whether it’s a declining global economy, increased ferry fares to the Island, competition from Lower Mainland towns and cities, or U.S. President Barack Obama’s encouragement that American citizens travel more domestically, it’s been tough slugging for the thousands of people in our region who count on a healthy flow of visitors to make ends meet.

Our region saw a slow, gradual climb back from the dark days of 9-11 and was hit hard again by the financial hardships wrought by the global economic crisis of 2008.

While the picture hasn’t been entirely rosy since, there have been bright spots on the horizon for the local industry, as improved March visitor numbers showed.

With the prospects for further improvement very real as travellers settle back into holiday mode, it’s important that Tourism Victoria make the most of opportunities to market the region to them.

The recent announcement that president and chief executive officer Rob Gialloreto will be leaving the organization for a similar position at Consumer Protection B.C. should not surprise us – executive changes are inevitable.

But it’s critical at this time that the organization install a person with the combination of experience, foresight and vision to latch the region’s tourism wagon to any upswing in public desire to travel.

Diminished funding has hurt all tourism marketing organizations in B.C. In the case of Tourism Victoria, it has left them struggling to maintain the international reach it enjoyed in past years. It had to abandon the exit surveys that helped determine where visitors were coming from and forced it to primarily target visitors closer to home.

It’s still uncertain how newly created Crown corporation Destination B.C. will help matters.

Therefore, it’s even more important that Tourism Victoria find a leader who can help find creative ways to market the region to a wider audience, and bring the various players in the local hospitality industry closer together to present a unified front.

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