The New Democratic Party would reinstate the industry-led tourism marketing program that used to exist in B.C., along with its foundational funding. This was promised by NDP tourism critic Spencer Chandra Herbert on Tuesday during the Northern BC Tourism Association's annual conference.
"The BC Liberals blew up our tourism marketer - it was a Crown corporation - and thought that a politician should be in charge," said Chandra Herbert at the Prince George event. "I want the industry to be in charge, that is a pledge we make if we form government, and I want you to have formula funding once again so you can have certainty year to year."
There was a rousing round of applause from the audience of tourism industry operators, hospitality managers, and their associated partners.
Chandra Herbert stopped short of criticizing the current government on missing some projections, like doubling the B.C. tourist count by 2015 based on the success of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. He acknowledged that the world's economic crises (mostly 2009 and '10) have played roles in the lower numbers than anticipated. But he insisted that the industry as a whole was being mismanaged.
"[Since becoming critic] I've had four tourism ministers and six deputy ministers," he said. "I've learned that it's important to have consistency."
He said the current model shunts tourism into the realm of topic instead of ministry, being handled off the side of ministerial desks across a number of government departments.
Thus, tourism values always fall to lower places than mining or petroleum or forestry values during the activities of those other ministries, he believed. The prime example is the ongoing issue of locating viable short-term timber to supply the sawmills and pellet factories. While the government has not advocated this, there has been talk of allowing logging in previously protected areas.
"We have vast swaths of the province in a debate about should we use that land for tourism purposes versus the forest sector's purposes," said Chandra Herbert. "We don't need a war between industries on the land base."