May 24–30, 2020 is Tourism Week! This year is less celebratory, so instead, we focused on four themes: How Tourism is Helping Communities, Virtual Travel Experiences, Training Opportunities for BC’s Tourism Industry, and educating British Columbians on the value of BC’s tourism industry. More than ever, British Columbians need to know about the importance of BC’s visitor economy, how it enriches all our lives by contributing to our collective social, cultural, environmental and economic well-being, and why they should travel within their own province.
Throughout the week, we posted tourism stories relating to these themes on our corporate Twitter and LinkedIn channels, encouraging BC tourism partners and stakeholders to join in and show that #BCTourismMatters. All the stories references in our social media posts can be found in the following Tourism Week articles on our website:
Tourism Has Heart: The Mighty Efforts of Our Industry During COVID-19
Tourism Training Week: Training Resources for COVID-19 and More
Virtual Travel: Online Tours, Cultural Experiences, and Nature Moments Across BC
You can find more resources and information on our Tourism Week 2020 page.
To kick off this year’s Tourism Week, we began sharing stories of how tourism and hospitality businesses are giving back during COVID-19. The Victoria Pedicab Company is delivering essential goods by donation, the Chinese Restaurant Awards’ Chopsticks To Heroes has donated over 5,000 meals from over 40 Asian restaurants to front-line workers, and Steamworks Brewing Company released a 7 O’clock Cheer pale ale, with 100% of net proceeds going to fighting COVID-19. These are just a few of the ways #TourismHelps in BC.
In terms of virtual travel experiences, we highlighted some of BC’s best parks, outdoors spaces and rec areas which can be enjoyed from the comforts of home thanks to Access BC’s website—a Spinal Cord Injury BC initiative. The resource provides accessibility audits of 450+ outdoor spaces in BC, as well as virtual tours and videos. We also transported British Columbians to bask in a beautiful sea foam blizzard in Ucluelet, courtesy of Tourism Ucluelet. Finally, with all field trips to Keremeos Grist Mill cancelled, the old waterwheel powered flour mill—with its apple orchard, restaurant, gift shop, and campground—has been holding daily virtual trips around the mill featuring hatching chicks, butter making, and bread-baking!
On day two of Tourism Week 2020, we highlighted our Road to Recovery webinar series. Tourism businesses trying to navigate the COVID-19 business landscape won’t want to miss this series, covering topics including: Business After Re-opening: A Look at the Post-closure Traveller, Planning for Doors Open, Managing Expectations and Reputation through Effective Communication, and more! We also encouraged registration for upcoming webinars, including: Using Social Media to Support Re-opening (May 26) and Building a Digital Marketing Strategy for Re-opening (May 28).
Today’s virtual travels took us to the Polygon Gallery with a fascinating podcast that explores the artists behind the art, to Barkerville where we uncovered the beginnings of Chinese-Canadian heritage, and to Quail’s Gate Winery where a blind taste-test confirmed the quality of BC wines. Join us tomorrow for flowers, forests, and furry bear cubs.
We also looked at how #TourismHelps once again. Starting with Indigenous Tourism BC, who is providing funding relief to 71 Indigenous tourism businesses across the province. Other stories highlighted were the Burrard Hotel, for offering rooms to St. Paul’s Hospital staff who need to quarantine, take a shower and a nap, or just relax on their break, and Phillips Brewing, for using its facilities to make face shields for front-line health workers. Tune in tomorrow to hear more stories of how tourism is giving back during COVID-19.
Today in Tourism Helps, we highlighted go2HR for opening up their Job Board to the healthcare, retail, and agriculture sectors to help tourism and hospitality employees facing work shortages, and BeerVan, a Vancouver-based beer collective for providing work to brewery employees through delivering beer and other beverages around Greater Vancouver.
Our virtual travels for the day brought us through the blooming orchard of the Milner Gardens, located in Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island, over to the untouched wilderness of the Great Bear Rainforest courtesy of Spirit of the West Adventures, and through the Rockies to Kimberley Alpine Resort to watch two wrestling bear cubs.
Finally, today’s tourism training focused on Applying Insights, with guides and courses on uncovering Instagram Analytics, useful for understanding customer behaviour on the App, and gathering insights. We also explored the Google Digital Garage, an online hub packed with courses and webinars for beginners to experts on content development, online advertising, social media, and lots more. Our third tourism training highlight went to Google’s free Analytics Academy, where tourism businesses can gain the knowledge to better understand their website’s performance, with insights that will help improve online presence and boost business.
Wednesday’s tourism training is all about employee and entrepreneur development! With an impressive array of free webinars, courses, and tools available to anyone with an internet connection, BC tourism businesses and employees have an unprecedented opportunity to learn new skills. Destination BC, go2HR, Small Business BC, BC Tourism Resiliency Network, emerit, and others are currently offering free resources during COVID-19, so take advantage while you can.
Our highlights for how tourism helps, included examples from: Lyft, who is giving ride credit to volunteers delivering meals and helping transport cancer patients to treatment safely; Helijet International Inc, who is giving free rides to healthcare responders between Vancouver and Vancouver Island; and Brewery & the Beast, who is supporting hospitality workers and local charities with a sizzling online cooking series.
Virtually, we took our audiences through the natural wonders of the Great Bear Rainforest, down to the Thompson Okanagan for BC wine tasting, and over to Whistler for the Train Wreck Trail. With heritage sites, cultural demonstrations, and more of BC’s natural world on stunning display, tomorrow’s explorations are just as certain to thrill.
Tourism Helps in many ways. On May 28, we exploreed how Element Vancouver Metrotown opened all 169 guest rooms to health workers for free; Evo Car Share allocated free cars for health workers; and FRanville Island Brewing made self-isolation commercials and donated to the Actor’s Fund of Canada to support our local film industry. Hear more stories of our tourism heroes tomorrow and for the rest of Tourism Week!
The tourism training focused on digital marketing, with tutorials for completing an online self-audit, refreshing your website, and optimizing your TripAdvisor page. But don’t stop there! Our Industry Development team offers plenty of additional resources for maximizing the potential of your online presence, including Facebook, Instagram and Google My Business. Visit our Learning Centre for a treasure trove of courses, articles and webinars to get your business digitally ready.
Our virtual travels took us to Northern BC for a panoramic look at the North Pacific Cannery then down to Whistler’s Squamish Lil’Wat Cultural Centre enriching demonstrations on everything from cedar rope-making to medicine bags. Next, we headed to Kamloops for a short but stunning trip through the Kamloops hoodoos.
Friday’s tourism training focused the importance of accessibility and inclusivity, especially during COVID-19. We look at tips and tricks to becoming a more accessible business, explore the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival’s transformation into a leading accessible event, and show how even small businesses can make a big difference.
Our virtual travels explored Stanley Park for some indulging in a soothing nature meditation; up untouched peaks for virtual reality heli-skiing with CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adevnture, and onward to the Osoyoos Desert Centre for a view of the Okanagan’s gorgeous grassland deserts.
On day 6 of sharing Tourism Helps stories as part of Tourism week and still, there was plenty to share! Accent Inns and Hotel Zed are keeping essential workers rested and safe by offering highly discounted rates, which community members have offered to donate to. Oliver Osoyoos Wine Country is supporting hospitality workers who are out of work with the Helping Our People Eat fund. And Parallel 49 Brewing Company, Wayward Distillery, Shelter Point Distillery, and others are making hand sanitizer to help the province keep up with demand.
In our final day of Tourism Week, we visited Prince George where Bon Voyage Inn and Carmel Inn are offering respite to essential transportation workers; onward to West Kootenay, where some of our favourite hiking trails were brought to life in a colouring book for charity by area artist Abby Wilson; and then to Persephone Brewing Company, which is delivering groceries as it debuts the thirst-quenching Isolation Nation pale ale. Our last virtual travels took us to Naikoon Park in Haida Gwaii; to Hornby Island for a pole-raising ceremony by the K’omoks First Nation; and to the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast through a forest of giants.
Thank you to everyone for joining us throughout the week as we celebrated countless heroes of tourism, travelled with us cross British Columbia, and engaged with out tourism training tips and resources. Keep learning, keep growing, and keep inspiring all of us to be our best!
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