The Planning Process

A tourism plan serves as the embodiment of the overall vision and economic goals, and provides a roadmap for the years ahead. A tourism plan should ideally encompass three to five years and be flexible enough to take new, unexpected opportunities into consideration during implementation.

Key Points in the Planning Process

Through the planning process, think about measureable achievements and how they fit into tourism development. Prioritize planned actions in a way that provides clarity, generates discussion and achieves buy-in from stakeholders.

  1. Defines the business situation – past, present and future
  2. Defines the tourism-related opportunities and problems facing the community or sector
  3. Establishes specific and realistic business objectives
  4. Defines strategies and tactics required to accomplish the objectives
  5. Establishes a timetable and pinpoints responsibility for execution of programs
  6. Establishes control and review procedures to monitor effectiveness of programs and performance against the defined objectives

Think about the planning process as a cycle that is iterative and builds over time so that as you gain more experience in how successful different activities are, this learning can be applied to the next plan. This means that the plan evolves each time.

The Strategic Planning Cycle

The strategic planning cycle typically takes place over a year. An updated plan is prepared annually to incorporate learning from the past year’s activities to enhance planning for the following year.

Principles of successful tourism development include:

Visitor Needs

B.C. businesses, communities and sectors must be responsive to the needs of their visitors. They must understand visitor needs first, develop tourism experiences to meet those needs, and then market the tourism experience to the appropriate type of visitor.


To address the issues and opportunities facing the tourism industry, consultation and collaboration across all areas of the province and all levels of the industry is needed to form the basis of a plan.

Effective Partnerships

Tourism is a fragmented industry and effective partnerships among tourism operators, sectors, destination marketing organizations, educational institutions, and all levels of government are essential to building a cohesive, strong and sustainable tourism industry in British Columbia.


Tourism in B.C. should be developed in a manner that recognizes the need for economic, social, cultural and environmental sustainability.

Stakeholder Support

To be successful, tourism development needs to be supported by the majority of stakeholders including businesses, local government, and residents.