Real-time information sharing during emergencies is one of the tools being developed to keep visitors to the Okanagan safer this summer.
“The last two summers of unprecedented wildfires were hard on tourism-dependent communities,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture. “We know that one of the biggest challenges the industry faced was getting accurate, up-to-date information to visitors. This year, we’re helping the tourism sector prepare to keep visitors safe during emergencies and making sure tourism in affected areas can rebound quickly.”
The B.C. government is providing a total of $200,000 in one-time grants to support regional destination marketing organizations’ emergency preparedness, including $25,000 to the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association.
“Timely, accurate information is essential in emergencies,” said Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness. “The tourism sector can play a critical role in keeping people safe, especially in rural and remote areas. This investment is helping the industry plan ahead so people can get the information they need, when they need it, keeping visitors safe and local economies strong.”
The regional destination marketing organizations will use this funding to create a common set of communications tools, emergency management training for regional teams and co-ordinators, and expand their tourism database to enable real-time information sharing in the event of an emergency. Together, these activities will help mitigate the effects of natural disasters on B.C.’s tourism reputation through better preparedness, co-ordination and communication.
“On behalf of the Thompson Okanagan Region, we applaud the Province in recognizing the importance of improving our crisis management and in providing emergency management funds in order to make this a reality,” said Glenn Mandziuk, president and CEO, Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association. “In a short time, we will announce the addition of a crisis management co-ordinator in the Thompson Okanagan to work closely with our other regional partners. Through this process, we envision accurate, timely and concise information will be more readily available to residents and tourists alike during emergency situations.”
The government announced the grants as part of B.C. Tourism Week, May 26-June 2, 2019, which highlights the industry’s vital importance to B.C.’s economy by creating jobs, strengthening communities and promoting year-round tourism in all four corners of the province.
Learn how tourism operators can prepare for emergencies:
Learn more about how to personally prepare for an emergency:
Read the minister’s statement on B.C. Tourism Week:
A backgrounder follows.