White Rock votes for tourism task force

City working to development tourism strategy to help attract more visitors.

The City of White Rock took another step towards developing a Tourism Strategy last week, when council voted to put together a task force to “enhance tourism economic activity” throughout the city.

On the recommendation of city staff, the task force will consist of two members of council, representatives from Tourism White Rock, the South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce, White Rock Business Improvement Association and Tourism Surrey, as well as local “business stakeholders” in the tourism industry.

The task force will work under the direction of a consultant – for which $20,000 has been set aside in the city’s 2015 budget – and will undertake a number of initiatives, including identifying potential tourism attractions around the city, analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of the current tourism sector and making recommendations for securing long-term funding sources for the tourism industry in White Rock.

After a report to council by Eric Stepura, the city’s director of recreation and culture, Coun. Megan Knight expressed concern about the efficiency of adding a 10-person task force to a nine-member Tourism White Rock board of directors. (The board currently sits at six members, as of this week.)

“It just seems to me that’s going to be a lot of people to get anything accomplished,” Knight said. “Should we not just look at hiring a consultant, getting a report back and then look at putting together a task force?”

Stepura responded that the consultant would need input from local representatives in order to provide guidance and undertake the initiatives laid out.

“The consultant would provide some basic information about tourism from other areas… but it’s imperative that we have local representation,” Stepura said. “It speeds things up if we work with a consultant who can work us through the process.”

Stepura admitted that time is of the essence in getting the Tourism Strategy underway; the city is aiming to have it completed by early October 2015, in time for consideration for the city’s five-year financial plan.

“It’s going to be a tight time frame, but I believe it’s achievable,” Stepura said.

Couns. Lynne Sinclair and Helen Fathers were appointed to the task force to represent the city, with Sinclair assuming the role of chair.

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