Tourism Surrey to guide White Rock

Smaller city commissions neighbour to manage information kiosk, provide 'expertise.'

White Rock's tourism services will be taken over by Tourism Surrey.

White Rock has commissioned the help of Tourism Surrey to run the city’s tourism services.

A news release from the city last Thursday announced the partnership, noting Tourism Surrey will take over the waterfront information kiosk, which reopened over the weekend.

Coun. Bill Lawrence, chair of the Tourism White Rock board, told Peace Arch News Monday that the city sees the agreement as a “positive thing” and is looking forward to benefiting from Tourism Surrey’s “expertise.”

“We’re looking at the advantages Tourism Surrey has, specifically with… the number of strategic alliances that they have built throughout the years, and basically taking advantage of economies of scale,” Lawrence said. “Especially when it comes down to their involvement with the kiosks they have at both Peace Arch and the Pacific Highway crossing, they’re well-suited for providing a lot of White Rock information so that they can steer people in the direction of White Rock.”

In addition to running the kiosk on Marine Drive, Tourism Surrey will be responsible for creating marketing strategies for the city, which Lawrence said the White Rock board would approve before they’re implemented.

Lawrence said the parties agreed to a one-year contract. Asked how much the city will pay Tourism Surrey, he confirmed with city staff Tuesday that the 2016 cost is $120,000.

In October, council voted to adopt a new tourism strategy, which included ceasing funding of the existing Tourism White Rock, forcing the organization to close its doors at the end of 2015.

Among the changes council approved was the closing of the uptown visitor centre and previous headquarters of Tourism White Rock at 1459B Johnston Rd. Following that decision, an 11-member tourism advisory committee was formed to develop a marketing plan and direction; Lawrence said that committee has now “run its mandate.”

Prior to the city cutting off funding, Tourism White Rock’s former executive director, Betina Albornoz, had expressed concern about the organization’s financial security, telling city officials more funding was needed in early 2015. Mayor Wayne Baldwin responded that Tourism White Rock’s projected operating costs of $300,000 were “a bit excessive.”

According to the news release, the city will be relaunching Tourism White Rock with a “fresh, new outlook on marketing our City by the Sea.”

The relaunch will also include the announcement of the tourism body’s new name, which was subject of a community poll earlier this year.