Management of the visitors information centre on White Rock’s waterfront is no longer a function of the South Surrey White Rock Chamber of Commerce.
The mandate has been passed to Tourism White Rock.
“It’s something we’ve been working on since the inception of the tourism society,” Mayor Wayne Baldwin said of the move. “(Tourism White Rock) was formed… to sort of look after all the tourism function in the city.”
The step was disclosed last week – during council’s last meeting of the year – as information released from an in-camera meeting. The process leading to it was discussed behind closed doors because it involved contracts, Baldwin told Peace Arch News.
Chamber officials are “totally in support” of the hand-over, executive director Cliff Annable told PAN, noting the Semiahmoo Peninsula organization was one of few that had both a chamber and a tourism component.
The kiosk, located just east of the museum, has been run by the chamber since Bill Reid led the organization in the ’80s.
Reid, a former MLA and minister of tourism (and who is now executive director of the Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce), knew how to get through the system to leverage whatever funds the city put into the chamber to get more money from the province, Baldwin said. The city entered into a contract for the service in order to facilitate that leverage, he said.
At the time, with the majority of chamber membership hailing from White Rock, the arrangement “made sense,” said Baldwin.
Over the years, however, that has reversed.
“It’s about 75, 80 per cent Surrey… so it doesn’t make sense for them to take it full on any longer because it doesn’t meet the needs of their membership, primarily.
“That’s not really their core business.”
While details are still being worked out, and chamber staff may be called on to handle some aspects of tourism, Baldwin said Tourism White Rock has the lead.
In addition to creating a “more coherent” system, the move will save the city money, Baldwin said.
Tourism director executive director Betina Albornoz said she won’t be able to comment until she returns from holiday next week.
Director of financial services Sandra Kurylo said last Thursday that she did not yet know what those savings might be, as details are still being worked out.
The city gave the chamber $61,200 for tourism services in 2012, she said, with the majority of that earmarked for operating the kiosk. Tourism White Rock received $20,000 in city funds this year.