Re: BIA plans baffle mayor, Oct. 3.
The news of the White Rock Business Improvement Association’s cut to tourism funding, I believe, is counter-productive to the community’s growth and well-being.
Tourism is often misunderstood and only seen from an economic perspective. Many believe tourism is just about enticing tourists to come to a community, spend their money in local restaurants and shops and then go home. However, tourism, at its core, is about longer-term community sustainability – not only as it relates to economic development but to cultural, social and environmental benefits for the well-being of residents.
It is a given that business needs a healthy economic environment to positively impact a community. If you take away the tourist spending, businesses may not be able to survive. Then it is the residents who suffer, with fewer restaurants, stores and services. It also translates into a smaller tax base and fewer jobs. But perhaps we need to reframe tourism as not just an economic driver?
Tourism, by nature, has the capability of enriching the lives of those living in the community by providing the resources for infrastructure improvements; by reinforcing cultural identify through festivals, arts, theatre and events; by encouraging traditions, heritage and preservation; by supporting sports and well-being, thereby improving our quality of life by enhancing what we love about this place.
White Rock Tourism does not exist solely for the benefit of businesses. Far from it. Tourism, if managed properly, provides much-needed additional economic inputs and, more importantly, provides residents with cultural, social and environmental enrichment.
The funding of Tourism White Rock needs to be recognized as a joint responsibility of not just the business community, but a responsibility of our community’s policy makers and its citizens.
Tourists have many wonderful and exciting destinations to choose from – other than White Rock – for a day-trip or a few days by the sea. If White Rock doesn’t want the added benefits, other communities will gladly take them. And that would be a shame for businesses and residents.
Barbara Smith, Surrey
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As a certified visitor-information counsellor with White Rock Tourism, it was with dismay that I read your article.
Since April, Betina Albornoz and her associate, Anne Fahlman, have hired enough volunteers to staff the beach-side information kiosk seven days a week and keep the office and information centre uptown open five.
We now have a booth at White Rock Farmers’ Market in conjunction with the White Rock Museum and, as a pilot project, brought in the free trolley for the summer to move visitors and locals between uptown and the beach.
We promote and have a presence at most festivals and special events in the city. We promote all businesses in White Rock without bias. We now have a beautiful White Rock Visitors Guide that is being shipped to information centres in not only our province, but also throughout Alberta, Washington State and beyond.
We have our own postcards, which are mailed all over the world. Our website is state-of-the-art and constantly updated to keep visitors, locals and businesses aware of opportunities available in our beautiful “City by the Sea.”
To realize all that has been accomplished in just six short months – and then to hear the BIA is cutting some of Tourism White Rock’s funding – is a travesty.
All summer long, as I spoke to countless visitors, I heard the same thing: “White Rock is one of the most beautiful places in the world, a highlight of our trip. Why are we not promoting overseas as a destination spot?”
All of these things give our White Rock a place on the map, encouraging people to visit here, move here, eat in our restaurants, shop in our boutiques and attend our festivals and special events. Tourism drives economic growth, and isn’t that what the BIA is all about.
Gini VanDer Meulen, Surrey