In 2014, when Mayors were asked to rate the level of importance of the value of tourism to their community on a scale of 1-10, the average response was 7.2/10.
There are a number of agencies in the Vancouver Island and Sunshine Coast area involved in some form of tourism-based economic development. The region has made a significant number of investments in this sector, and the direct value, in terms of tourism attraction has been well documented. However, investing in tourism related amenities is more than just about tourists: enhancements also help communities attract new investment and relocations and improve a region’s overall quality of life. An incomplete understanding of the full benefits of tourism has hampered the sector’s ability to achieve its full potential.
The objective of the project was to bring communities across the Island and Sunshine Coast together, with a focus on demonstrating the value of the “tourism engine” as a way to promote investment, resident and workforce attraction and retention as a component of community economic development strategies. The process included the development of a communications strategy to increase the awareness of the value of tourism in regional prosperity. The second phase identified the agencies active in some form of economic development activities in the region to assess duplication, gaps and avenues for collaboration. Those agencies were engaged in dialogue about potential ‘shared approaches’ to economic development where tourism is embedded in a more comprehensive way. A series of communications tools were developed and shared throughout the region.
Completed in 2014, the process resulted in a shared approach to economic development to reduce duplication and address gaps as well as the development of a series of common tools to support themes in investment. This included an interactive website, video vignettes and packaged multi-media presentations.