The BC Tourism Industry Conference 2024, organized by the Tourism Industry Association of BC (TIABC), was held last week in Victoria, BC. Over 460 delegates from around the province attended, ready to tackle issues and discuss opportunities for the industry under the theme 'Shaping our Future Together.'  

Plenary sessions at the conference included updates and presentations from national industry associations, Destination Canada and the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada. Destination British Columbia (DBC) showcased its Invest in Iconics Strategy in a plenary session and fireside chat, as well as through a workshop session. Other in-depth learning sessions covered topics such as tourism innovation, employee mental health and wellness, gender equity, DEIA, sustainability, the impact of AI, and more.

TK Team at BCTIC 2024
Pictured (left to right): Julia Garner, Business Development; Carla Bechard, Marketing Programs & Partnerships; Chris Lewis, Director of Destination Development

Premier David Eby, The Honourable Lana Popham, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture & Sport, and The Honourable Soraya Martinez Ferrada, Minister of Tourism and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, were on hand to participate in plenary and workshop sessions. 

In addition to the professional development sessions, some of BC's top tourism talent was honoured at the annual BC Tourism Industry Awards. Our organization was one of three finalists in the Community Contribution & Impact category, while the Rotary Centre for the Arts was a finalist in the Remarkable Experience category. We congratulate our fellow category nominee, Prince of Whales Whale & Marine Wildlife Adventures, who took home the Community Contribution & Impact Award, and all of this year's award winners. We were honoured to be nominated alongside so many deserving nominees.

Key Takeaways

  • Destination British Columbia’s Iconics Strategy has launched with the Rainforest to Rockies (Vancouver Coast & Mountains & Thompson Okanagan) and The Great Wilderness Route (Northern BC). The Iconics program is designed to create geographical dispersion throughout the province. Although the Rainforest to Rockies route does not directly feature the Okanagan Valley, it has connected elements. Five more Iconics routes will be launched in the coming years.
  • DBC's Destination Development grant program is underway, where $3,000 microgrants will be given out to selected businesses for product development.
  • Sustainability and Stewardship, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and Indigenous Reconciliation were at the core of every session, workshop, and session and will be major topics of all future grants and development.
  • The Province of British Columbia is rewriting many of its emergency response legislation in the coming years. Emergency Management BC's four focus areas are Mitigation, Preparation, Response, and Recovery.
  • Premier David Eby acknowledged that tourism is the largest sector in British Columbia, larger than oil & gas, mining, and others.
  • Topics discussed in the sessions and Q&A periods with the Provincial and Federal Ministers included the development of international relationships and the New Mexican Visa program, sustainability, including economic, environmental, and social/cultural aspects, short-term rentals, and much-needed support for the hospitality/restaurant sector and the BC wine industry.
  • During question periods with various levels of government, I raised additional topics besides those mentioned above, including invasive species, air route development, the tourism sector in the new BC budget, short-term rentals, and much-needed community infrastructure.

Next year's conference will be held in Vancouver; anyone in the province's tourism industry is invited and encouraged to attend.