Tourism Prince Rupert was first established as a Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) in the 1930s – it is one of the oldest in the province – although marketing Prince Rupert to visitors stretches back to the days of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway.
We are one of the original seven “grandfathered” two per cent communities. Whistler was the first municipality to begin collecting the additional hotel tax, in 1988, and Prince Rupert followed in 1990.
As the 1990s progressed, it became clear that Prince Rupert faced an increasingly competitive global marketplace. Tourism was becoming a more and more complex industry, and gone were the days of simply opening up a visitors’ bureau and trusting to enthusiasm and luck.
In 1998 Tourism Prince Rupert was created as an advisory board that quickly identified that inadequate staffing and budget at the CVB prevented the effective tourism marketing in Prince Rupert, and that we needed to join the growing number of communities with Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs). Tourism Prince Rupert was incorporated as a non-profit society on November 8, 1999, replacing the CVB, as Prince Rupert’s tourism marketing agency.
Tourism Prince Rupert is membership-driven, representing both the community at large and the businesses impacted by the tourism industry. Four of our volunteer directors are elected by the membership, with the remaining five appointed by City Council.
Our Chair is Corey Kitchen (elected) of the Pacific Inn, and our Vice-Chair is Murray Sheppard (appointed) of the Alaska Marine Highway System. Our Treasurer is Captain Keith Hopkins (appointed), BC Ferries, and Secretary to the Board is Whitney Magliocchi (elected), of Seashore Charters.
The remainder of our Directors are Sam Bryant (appointed) of the Museum of Northern BC, Hans Buchholz (appointed), Studio 9 / Pineridge B&B, Judy Carlick-Pearson (appointed), Prince Rupert City Council, Rodney Proskiw (elected), Foggy Point Charters, and Phil Westoby (elected), Prince Rupert Port Authority. Gord Howie, City of Prince Rupert, and Margo Cullen, Past Chair, act as Ex-Officio Directors.
I was hired in 2003, having spent almost thirty years in print and broadcast media, to serve as CEO. Monika Clifton, who spent five seasons in the Prince Rupert Visitor Centre before joining Tourism Prince Rupert, has now been Director of Marketing for four years.
Of course, we have limited resources, particularly when compared to the diverse product that we have here to market. Tourism is so multi-faceted, and with so many different sectors, that there are almost as many opinions about where we should devote these limited resources as there are industry stakeholders.
Our marketing efforts are driven by the Prince Rupert Tourism Plan. This was created through a Tourism BC program which provided a skilled facilitator and gathered together a large group of Prince Rupert tourism stakeholders. After conducting a detailed study of tourism here, this group considered available resources and the community’s priorities. They decided which community groups would be responsible for each tactic, and built a manageable plan with clear, measurable goals.
On the marketing side many of the tactics that were the responsibility of TPR have either been accomplished since the Tourism Plan was implemented in 2008, or have been made impractical by changes in marketing. More importantly the local tourism landscape has changed. This year the Board of Directors will gather a working group to create a new multi-year Tourism Plan that reflects today’s realities. We don’t have the money or manpower to do everything, but through working together within the community we can continue to make ourselves better able to compete with each passing year.