The Tourism Advisory Council’s recently released stage report outlined the current progress of the council’s tourist initiative for the Similkameen valley.
The council’s goals are wide ranging, including the marketing of a valley wide “brand” that the group hopes will identify the Similkameen to the world as an exclusive tourist market. It’s an ambitious plan that has a totally taxpayer funded budget of $53,146 this year and a projected budget of $58,000 for 2013.
The initiative has been a labour intensive effort for those involved in its implementation to date – no doubt involving many long meetings and unpaid volunteer time spent.
Nevertheless, while we are sure that those efforts are being put forward with the best interests of the local business community in mind, we found it a bit disconcerting – and disappointing to say the least – to see a remark in the TAC report regarding the group’s plans to publish a valley wide tourist guide suggest the following:
“The premise of our publication is vastly different – our goal is to promote tourism in the region. Their goal is to make money for Black Press.”
We would like to remind the Tourism Advisory Council that the two community newspapers in the Similkameen – the Similkameen Spotlight and the Review – have provided the Similkameen valley with tourist guides for more than 10 years, long before the two businesses became Black Press newspapers.
As a matter of fact, we are in business to make money – as we would expect every private enterprise is. That was the case with these newspapers prior to their affiliation with the Black Press chain – so nothing has changed in that regard.
We believe the real issue here centres on the fact that these two publications have never cost taxpayers a dime – they are the result of private business ventures that have never relied on public dollars, successfully serving their purpose in promoting the valley as a wonderful place to visit.
Our tourist publications have also garnered respect within our industry, having won two awards in recent years.
The Spotlight and the Review have a reliable, professional and consistent track record spannning several years of tourist promotion through their privately funded publications; that’s why we seriously question the Tourism Advisory Council’s attempt to compete with private enterprise while using our own (taxpayer’s) money to do so.