The B.C. government might have scrapped Tourism BC just three years ago, but it has now created a new Crown corporation to market the province as a tourism destination.
Premier Christy Clark announced Monday the opening of Destination BC, which will target the expanding market for visitors to B.C. from Asia.
"With Asia's middle class rapidly expanding and becoming more and more interested in tourism opportunities, this is our time to get out there and start marketing British Columbia," said Clark on Monday morning in Vancouver.
The move reverses a decision by the Gordon Campbell Liberal government in 2009 to scrap Tourism BC. That Crown corporation was folded into the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Arts.
Then-minister Kevin Krueger said scraping the independent operator would reduce administrative costs, allow for better co-ordination of marketing initiatives and make it easier to ensure the entire province benefits from the 2010 Olympic Games.
But the tourism industry has since complained that politics was getting in the way of proper tourism management.
When asked on Monday morning why the government did away with Tourism BC, Clark responded that she wasn't in office, but disagreed with the move at the time.
"What's most exciting about this new organization is that it was designed by tourism operators who know first-hand how a tourism marketing organization should be structured to help them grow their industry and create jobs," said Clark.
Destination BC has the support of several tourism industry heavyweights, including Dave Butler, of CMH Heli-Skiing, who chaired the task force that helped set it up.
"This is a priority issue for B.C.'s tourism industry and we are extremely pleased with Premier Clark's announcement today of a new provincial tourism marketing organization," said Butler.
Starting on April 1, the new Crown corporation will receive the full funding that government was using for tourism marketing. After that, funding will be set based on a percentage of annual sales tax activity and enshrined in legislation.