Tourism continues to be a driving force in British Columbia

For some, a dream job would be a vacation planner – for themselves!

  • Tue Oct 23rd, 2012 6:00pm
  • Life

For some, a dream job would be a vacation planner – for themselves! Vacationing in B.C. can take so many forms that it would indeed be a full-time job.

The tourism and hospitality industry is an extremely diverse industry with more than 400 different occupations – including occupations that lead to longer-term careers, as well as those that fit well for those seeking part-time work, like students or older workers who are not yet ready to retire.

British Columbia’s tourism industry will be a leader in provincial job growth as businesses look to fill 101,000 new job openings by 2020, according to a study of labour demand and supply by go2, the B.C. tourism industry’s human resource association.

The Tourism Labour Market Strategy, released in the spring of 2012 by go2, sets out the plan to recruit, retain and train the workers needed to keep pace with the growth projected for the industry. Nearly half of the 101,000 openings will be new jobs created by the tourism industry across the province, adding 44,220 more jobs to the provincial workforce by 2020. The other approximately 57,000 openings are due to replacements (i.e. retirements).

“The labour strategy co-ordinated by go2 is a key pillar of industry growth in the province. Without it, we simply wouldn’t have the skilled workers in place to deliver the visitor experience throughout B.C.,” says Lana Denoni, Chair of TIABC, the Tourism Industry Association of British Columbia.

British Columbia’s location, bordered by the Rocky Mountains on the east and the Pacific Ocean on the west, makes it unique within Canada. Its mountain and coastal scenery, opportunities for summer sailing, winter skiing, and other activities such as fishing or sightseeing in coastal or inland waters or experiencing our vibrant cities all make us a world-class destination.

Tourism helps to diversify our economy and also brings new community services to permanent residents.

B.C.’s tourism and hospitality industry is now the single largest “primary resource industry” in the province, generating an annual real GDP of more than $6.4 billion in 2010, ahead of forestry, mining, oil and gas extraction, and agriculture.

Tourism and hospitality generated $13.4 billion in annual revenue in 2010. Overall, between 2004 and 2010, industry revenues grew by a total of 25.5 per cent, representing an average annual growth rate of 4.2 per cent.

The provincial government’s Gaining the Edge: A five-year Strategy for Tourism in British Columbia targets revenue growth of five per cent a year that will top $18 billion in tourism spending by 2016.

The fastest growing sectors for tourism job growth over the next decade are expected to be recreation and entertainment and travel services.

There are an estimated 17,943 tourism-related businesses across the province, employing about 260,000 workers, or 10.8 per cent of B.C.’s total labour force of 2.4 million people.

More than 80 per cent of tourism’s new job openings are projected to come in Food and Beverage Services (43,410 openings), Recreation and Entertainment (20,530 openings) and the Accommodation sector (18,920 openings).

“After several years of slow labour growth, the tourism industry is poised to expand,” said Arlene Keis, Chief Executive Officer of go2.

“Labour shortages are already being felt in places like Northern B.C., the Thompson Okanagan and in the Rockies regions. By 2016, the crunch will be more acute throughout the province.”

“The tourism industry often provides people with their important first job and sets them on their career path,” said Keis. “Tourism is also the largest employer of youth, with one in four British Columbians under the age of 24 working in the industry.”

“This anticipated growth in tourism reinforces the need to plan carefully and ensure that there are enough workers with the right skills in the right communities to meet the tourism industry’s future labour needs,” said Keis.

Boomer Gaye Dolezal of Sidney, B.C. says “Working part-time in Tourism Information was a fun way for me to use my great knowledge of Canadian cities. I often astound visitors with the connections I could make to their hometowns.”  She adds “People like to feel like welcome guests, not just tourists.”

Tourism Golden Marketing Manager. Joanne Sweeting said, “Yes there are other ski resorts, other mountain towns, other rivers; but nowhere is there the accumulation of all of those things in one place.”

Sweeting added, “Tourism touches many points in the community either directly or indirectly. It is an economic driver and major employer.”

She went on to explain that Golden has the resources to be a year round destination.

“Product development, we can build on our current position to increase the attraction of Golden as a year round destination. Year-round product and visitation will lead to more revenue and an increase in sustainable permanent employment.”