With a board of directors in place, the new provincial tourism marketing agency is one step closer to opening its doors.
Tourism Prince George CEO Aidan Kelly said he's looking forward to the launch of Destination B.C. in April because it will bring stability to an increasingly competitive sector. The Liberal government announced the new agency last year, three years after cutting funding to its predecessor Tourism B.C.
"It's been a bit difficult within in the industry since 2009 when the previous Tourism B.C. was taken apart," Kelly said. "With Destination B.C., we're hoping it brings back that stability and allows for that growth in profile of British Columbia as a true world class destination which then has spin-offs for us here in the northern part of the province."
Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training Pat Bell announced the inaugural board of directors Thursday. The nine-member group will be chaired by former Vancouver Olympics organizing committee vice-president Andrea Shaw, but doesn't include any members from the north.
Bell said the lack of a northern voice at the table is because "the board is not a stakeholder board, it's a professional board" and all regions will be represented when the marketing board is named in the coming weeks.
Kelly said he understands the province's reasoning, but would have liked to see a northerner on the governance board.
"It definitely would have been nice to see some representation from the north," he said. "But it's a relatively small board and with the number of members that they have it was obviously a challenge for them to have representation from the whole province."
Joining Shaw on the new board are Whistler Blackcomb general counsel and corporate secretary Susan Tamiko Doi; CedarCreek Estate Winery president Gordon Fitzpatrick; hereditary chief of the Squamish Nation Gibby Jacob; Absolute Spa Group president Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia; London Drugs chief financial officer Laird Miller; Bell Canada vice-president of marketing Loring Phinney; Coast Hotels & Resorts president Robert Pratt and Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality Mayor Al Raine.
Bell said the first tasks for the new board will be to hire a CEO and name an 18-member marketing board. The six regions of the province, including the north, will each have three seats at that table.
"Historically if you go back to the old Tourism B.C. model, you might have one member from northern British Columbia on the board out of a board of a dozen or more," Bell said. "This model, with the marketing board, means there will be three out of 18."
Bell said the tourism sector in this region still has a lot of growth potential.
"I think it continues to be a priority for us and it's one of the areas where I think we can see the biggest percentage gains," he said.