The virtual 2021 BC Tourism and Hospitality Conference meets virtually March 8 to 12.

The virtual 2021 BC Tourism and Hospitality Conference meets virtually March 8 to 12.

B.C. tourism sector targets ‘Mission Possible’ during virtual conference

Tourism Industry Association of BC and the BC Hotel Association co-host conference March 8 to 12

As members of British Columbia’s travel industry gather virtually this week for the 2021 BC Tourism and Hospitality Conference, the message is one of resiliency and hope, but also of the vast work still to come in the wake of COVID-19.

Co-hosted by the Tourism Industry Association of BC and the BC Hotel Association March 8 to 12, the theme of this year’s conference is Mission Possible, referencing the resilience and overall tenacity the industry has demonstrated.

Joining industry leaders from across the province are representatives of government, local businesses and organizations, exploring topics ranging from the economic impact of COVID and possible ways forward to how Indigenous Tourism BC is transforming marketing and destination development efforts to support reconciliation.

COVID’s impact on travel and hospitality is exacerbated by the length of time businesses have been – and continue to be – impacted.

“Tourism in Canada was first hit, the hardest hit and will be the last to recover,” said Marsha Walden, President & CEO of Destination Canada.

In research released earlier this week, the organization noted that “the current situation facing the tourism sector is the worst ever seen, more dire than the impact experienced after 9/11, SARS and the 2008 economic crisis combined.”

While the industry has seen a number of positives, including various government programs and a collaborative approach among stakeholders, governments and others, segments like the hotel sector remained concerned about the year ahead.

Susie Grynol, President & CEO of the Hotel Association of Canada, said factors like the vaccination timeline will play a role in her sector’s potential recovery in addition to ongoing limitations for international, convention and business travel.

Overall, business travel is expected to have a much slower recovery than leisure travel, partially because people have become comfortable with technology like video conferencing, and partly because businesses may take a conservative approach to having staff travel, several speakers noted.

Further, some who lost their jobs during the pandemic may not return, having found work in other sectors, Walden said. That could prove challenging as the industry looks to return to pre-COVID activity.

Still, people are looking forward to a brighter outlook for spring and summer, with the ongoing vaccination announcements buoying hope that the world will return to some sense of “normal.”

And B.C., which weathered COVID relatively well compared to other provinces, is poised for forecasted economic growth of about 4.2 per cent in 2021, according to the Business Council of British Columbia.

The council’s Jock Finlayson also noted that Canadians have been saving during the pandemic. He cited a recent CIBC survey that found that 36 per cent of households with an annual income above $100,000 indicated that travel is the No. 1 thing they would spend those savings on, once permitted.

The assumption is that travel will open within British Columbia first, before gradually broadening to other provinces and territories, then to North American and international travel.

However, the overall recovery of the industry is expected to take several years.

As the sector enters year two of COVID restrictions, Walden underscored the importance domestic travellers can have in that recovery.

If Canadians shift two-thirds of their planned international leisure travel dollars toward domestic tourism, it can make up for the estimated $19 billion shortfall currently facing the visitor economy, help sustain 150,000 jobs and accelerate recovery by one year.

Conference sessions continue through this week. To learn more about this year’s conference, visit bctourismandhospitalityconference.com

British ColumbiaTourism

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The old Stanley Gordon school in Lake Cowichan. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette file)
Editorial: Old school properties represent potential for our areas

There are opportunities, often sitting right in the middle of our small communities.

Sweet gum trees like this one in City Square will be replaced over the next three years. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Duncan plans big tree replacement project for downtown

Sweet gums in City Square and along Station Street will go over the next three years

Cowichan Valley Capitals defenceman Logan Rands pokes the puck away from Alberni Valley Bulldogs forward Talon Duff. (Elena Rardon/Black Press Media)
Offence sags as Cowichan Capitals reach midway mark

Caps score one goal in three games as pod season continues

BCYP Minister for the Southern Interior, Aislinn Dressler of Fernie said the Youth Parliament being virtual was a great way to learn about how the BC Parliament was operating. (Photo contributed by Aislinn Dressler)
Applications open for Islands Youth Parliament

Applications must be received by April 23

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

A teacher-librarian in Nanaimo was fired in 2019 for checking out an age-inappropriate graphic novel to a student. The discipline agreement was published Wednesday, April 21. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo teacher-librarian fired for checking out too-graphic graphic novel to student

Teacher had been previously disciplined and suspended on two occasions

Aria Pendak Jefferson cuddles ChiChi, the family cat that ran away two years ago in Ucluelet. The feline was missing until Courtney Johnson and Barry Edge discovered her in the parking lot of the Canadian Princess earlier this month. Aria and her parents were reunited with ChiChi in a parking lot in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
An Island girl’s wish is answered as her cat came back

Courtenay family reunited with cat that went missing in Ucluelet in 2019

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Vancouver Island Connector and Tofino Bus is putting a 41-passenger electric bus through its paces in a three-month trial run between Nanaimo and Victoria. (Photo submitted)
Electric bus on trial run serving Victoria-to-Nanaimo route

Vancouver Island Connector and Tofino Bus trying out 41-seat electric coach for three months

The Coastal Fire Centre is looking ahead to the wildfire season on Vancouver Island. (Phil McLachlan – Western News)
Coastal Fire Centre looking ahead at wildfire season on Vancouver Island

‘We’re asking people in the spring to be very careful’

Chum Salmon fry being examined with multiple motile and attached sea lice on Vargas Island. (Cedar Coast Field Station photo)
Study: Tofino fish farm sea lice infestations add fuel to push to remove open pens

Ahousaht First Nation asking for higher standards than what DFO requires

FILE – The Instagram app is shown on an iPhone in Toronto on Monday, March 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Judge acquits B.C. teen boy ‘set up’ on sex assault charge based on Instagram messages

The girl and her friends did not have ‘good intentions’ towards the accused, judge says

Kai Palkeinen recently helped a car stuck on the riverbed near the Big Eddy Bridge. While the car could not be saved, some of the driver’s belongings were. It’s common for vehicles to get stuck in the area due to significantly changing river levels from Revelstoke Dam. (Photo by Kai Palkeinen)
“I just sank a car’: Revelstoke resident tries to save vehicle from the Columbia River

Although it’s not permitted, the riverbed near the city is popular for off roading

Most Read