Revelstoke needs a tourism coordinator

David F. Rooney

Is Revelstoke a tourism-based resort town or a resource-based industrial town?

The answer depends in part on who you’re asking. For many, our city remains tied to logging, the CPR, BC Hydro and highway maintenance. But for others it has been moving inexorably towards a future that is increasingly tourism-based.

We are a long way from becoming a resort town. It will take decades before tourism is the main industry here. But like it or not, we are well on our way. And, despite what some may think, that is a goal we should be actively working towards.

That’s the major reason, to my mind, that the City should be working with the Chamber of Commerce and the Revelstoke Accommodation Association to ensure that we have an active tourism coordinator.

The City and the Columbia Shuswap Regional District did for several years jointly finance the $30,000 position but funding for that position has run out and there is not, at this particular moment in time, any money allocated for it in the 2011-2015 municipal budget.

How this came about can only be ascribed to a series of misunderstandings, miscues and what not over the last few years when the Chamber of Commerce went through a succession of executive directors.

What matters is not how it happened but what happens now. There are many businesses and institutions in town that are concerned about this, from the city’s museums and galleries to hotels, motels, guiding and outdoor recreational outfits.

Given the tenor of relations between City Council and the Chamber of Commerce it should come as no surprise that Council may be reluctant to pay for what it may regard as a responsibility best borne by the Chamber.

But the business community’s prosperity and the health of the tourism sector in Revelstoke should be a real concern for our elected officials.

That’s why the tourism coordinator position issue requires a solution that benefits everyone. But how can we do that?

The City of Rossland may provide a model. Recognizing that tourism is key to its health and prosperity, that community a stand-alone destination marketing organization separate from its Chamber of Commerce that is financed by the city government, the hotel-room tax and the Red Mountain Resort Association. Twenty per cent of the DMO’s financing ($130,000 including grants found by Rossland’s tourism coordinator) comes from the municipal government.

According to Deanne Steven, executive director of Tourism Rossland, there is no one model for a DMO.

“There are 43 DMOs in BC and all are different, all are funded differently,” she said.

What matters, though, is that given the economic importance of tourism having a marketing coordinator is something any self-respecting community serious about becoming a resort community should be doing — and let’s not forget that Revelstoke is an official resort community.

Perhaps Rossland’s approach is a model that Revelstoke should consider adopting.

Real tourism marketing is complex and multi-faceted. It involves the Internet, video and DVD production, dealing with TV and film producers, the news media, exploiting the potential of social media and much, much more. If we don’t do something focused and constructive who will do our tourism marketing?

We may soon learn what, if anything, will happen with regard to this issue.

Chamber President Brydon Roe is scheduled to appear before City Council on Tuesday, April 5, to make a presentation regarding funding for the tourism coordinator’s position.

Ideally, his arguments will strike a chord and all parties involved will agree on a solution to ensure that our community continues to benefit from top-notch tourism marketing.

Revelstoke needs a tourism coordinator.