KELOWNA – A new, three-year base funding model for community visitor services centres in Kelowna and West Kelowna will ensure more stable and predictable funding and allow for greater flexibility and innovation.

Destination BC, the Province’s industry-led destination marketing organization, has announced the three-year base funding model for the 108 community visitor centres it helps support following extensive consultation with the community visitor services centre network.

The strategy includes a new minimum base funding of $10,000 annually for the next three years for small and rural community visitor centres as well as an innovation fund available in 2016 to assist communities with projects that help them adapt to the changing needs and expectations of visitors, including through the use of technology.

This is a positive increase for rural and small communities across B.C. and acknowledges their ongoing contributions to the tourism industry.

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” says Premier Christy Clark, MLA for Westside-Kelowna. “For a lot of visitors to Kelowna and West Kelowna, the community visitor centre is where they decide the next stop on their journey.”

“This new, stable base funding will help ensure better long-term planning for our communities,” says Steve Thomson, MLA for Kelowna-Mission. “In addition, the innovation fund will be available to help them adapt to changing visitor needs through innovative projects.”

“We’re lucky to live in these beautiful communities, and want visitors to experience all we have to offer,” says Norm Letnick, MLA for Kelowna-Lake Country. “Our government is committed to providing quality, world-class services now and in the future.”

As a key sector in the BC Jobs Plan, tourism is an important economic driver in the province. B.C.’s tourism sector is strong and growing, which is good news in light of fierce global competition for tourists. In 2013, the tourism industry generated $13.9 billion in revenue and a direct contribution to B.C.’s gross domestic product of $7.3 billion, accounting for 4% of the
Province’s total GDP.

Quick Facts:

  • In 2014, there were almost a quarter of a million (234,079) more visitors coming from outside the country than in 2013 – a 5.3% increase.
  • The Province supports Destination BC, an industry-led Crown corporation. Destination BC works closely with tourism stakeholders, marketing the province as a tourist destination and promoting the development and growth of the tourism industry.
  • Since 2003, tourism sector employment in B.C. has grown 17.6% and tourism wages and salaries have increased by more than 34.4% ($4.5 billion in 2013).
  • In 2013, the tourism sector employed 132,200 British Columbians – that’s about 1 in every 15 jobs in B.C – and the tourism industry paid $4.5 billion in wages and salaries to tourism workers, an increase of 3.8 % over the year before.
  • There are more than 19,200 tourism-related businesses in B.C., and over 17,000 (almost 93%) are small businesses with less than 50 employees.

For more information on the Visitor Services Network, please visit: www.destinationbc.ca/Programs/Visitor-Centre-Network.aspx.