The Tourism Cowichan Society is preparing to move quickly with extensive plans for destination marketing of the valley.
The Cowichan Valley Regional District approved a five-year agreement with the society in which it will receive $120,000 per year to deliver regional tourism marketing on behalf of the CVRD.
The agreement also allows the society to pursue the implementation of a hotel tax on the valley’s accommodation industry to help pay for destination marketing.
The TCS had also been earmarked for $138,000 in funding from Destination BC, but that came with the condition that the money must be leveraged with funding from other local agencies and stakeholders, so the funding from the CVRD secures it for the society.
Janet Docherty, chairwoman of the society, said it’s the first time the TCSS has had substantial core funding for its plans for destination marketing in the valley.
“It’s incredibly exciting,” she said of the funding.
“The various tourism strategies in the valley have been fragmented for a long time, but now the society will encourage all stakeholders to work together. Tourism is a major economic driver in the valley and we want to see it increase. As tourism increases, so will the economic well being of everybody in the valley.”
But Docherty said that while the funding will allow the society to finally begin to devise and implement a number of tourism strategies, it’s still not enough to market the whole valley.
She said implementing a hotel tax is one way of increasing revenues for the tourism initiative.
She said the Cowichan Valley is “at a disadvantage” with many other jurisdictions on Vancouver Island who already have hotel tax policies in place to assist their local tourism initiatives.
“At first blush, the hotels we talked to are supportive of the tax if it helps bring more tourists here,” Docherty said.
“The money from the tax doesn’t come from the hotels themselves, but from the tourists who stay in them. We’ll be working with Tourism Vancouver Island in the coming months to discuss this with the local accommodation industry. The businesses will have a spot on our governance board so they will have a say as to how the money is spent.”
Docherty said the society will be hosting at least four town hall meetings over the next nine months, and all stakeholders in the valley’s tourism will be invited to attend.
She said information on the society, its plans for destination marketing and how to get involved will be provided at the meetings.
The first meeting is scheduled for May 25 at 5 p.m. at 1230 Merridale Rd, the next is May 26 at 5 p.m. at the Best Western Hotel in Duncan, followed by a meeting on May 31 at 5 p.m. at the Chemainus Theatre and another June 1 at 4 p.m. at the Country Grocer, 83 Cowichan Lake Rd.