On the heels of Prince Rupert’s reportedly greatest tourism year in almost a decade, Tourism Prince Rupert is looking to change the structure of its organization to expand even further.
2014 brought 10,122 visitors to the Visitor Information Centre, the highest since 2006, and Chair of Tourism Prince Rupert, Scott Farwell presented a request to city council last Monday night to change the organization from a member-based group to a broader stakeholder model.
This would include revising the organization’s constitution and largely differ from the majority of Northern B.C. tourism organizations which are member-driven.
“The member-based model was used extensively throughout the province of B.C. and also on a regional level with the likes of Northern BC Tourism, where member businesses paid to be members of the organization,” said Farwell at the meeting.
In 2014-15, 38 businesses, ranging from hotels to restaurants to fishing charters and more, were part of Tourism Prince Rupert. In the past, paid memberships have ranged from a low of 18 to a high of 50 within the organization, mentioned Farwell.
But that’s not a wide enough representative look at what Prince Rupert has to offer, added the chair.
“At this point in time … if you were looking to travel to Prince Rupert [on our website], you would have seen that there are a number of hotels, I believe there are three fishing charter operators and a handful of restaurants – it may have served those members very well, however it didn’t serve the general community very well,” said Farwell.
“And it didn’t serve the visitor very well from the perspective of a community that only had three fishing charter operators, [the lack of options] didn’t look like a place you wanted to spend your family vacation.”
Tourism Prince Rupert has changed the direction of the bylaws to add all accommodation providers, as many restaurants as they could find, various charter operators, attractions and tours and traditional non-members of the organization to the offerings.
“You’d see roughly 150-200 businesses represented on there. Our board thinks that this is the best representation of the community and also serves our visitors well,” said Farwell.
In addition to the new model, the Tourism Prince Rupert representative told council their intention to reduce the number of board seats from nine to seven to adjust from a historical inability to consistently fill all nine seats.
Coun. Barry Cunningham found contradictions in some of the organization’s new bylaws and asked if they had been looked at legally. Farwell told him the new bylaws follow Northern BC Tourism guidelines.
The council notified Farwell that they would look over the changes in the near future and thanked him for his presentation.