Speaker Reflection

“Wild by Nature” is how the District of Sooke illustrates itself (Sooke, 2010). It was brought to my attention, on April 15, 2010, by Evan Parliament, Chief Administrative Officer, that to develop a city’s tourism industry is a complex and patient process. Before I attended Royal Roads University and the International Hotel Management program, I was unaware of the existence of destination marketing. I never thought that a concept like destination marketing could maintain its own department; I always assumed that tourism just happened. This was a big mistake, as I discovered through Mr. Parliament’s presentation. Destination marketing fascinates me and I believe it is an evolving industry with great career potential. Canada is a resource industry country, and it is those resources, which support its economy. However, Canadian fish stocks are shrinking, forestry employment is decreasing, and since 1999, the mining industry has reduced output by 25% (Statistics Canada, 2006).  In my opinion, I think tourism is the future industry of both small and large Canadian cities and it is up to destination marketing organizations (DMO) to secure business.

Sooke has decided to brand itself as an eco-tourism destination and Evan Parliament seems to be the official with the vision. His passion for Sooke’s community was electric, and the moment he began speaking about his experience creating a DMO interested me. As Mr. Parliament explains “Tourism doesn’t just happen, it must be created” and I now understand the importance behind that quote (personal communication, April 15, 2010). I was surprised how simple the ideas were that began Sooke’s tourism industry. “Just bring hoteliers to Sooke, the beauty will do the rest” explained Even Parliament (personal communication, April 15, 2010). Mr. Parliament realised he had an amazing product, furthermore, to build a successful eco-tourism brand, Sooke required the infrastructure to support a tourism population; hotels provide the infrastructure to grow tourism. In the business world, which seems more competitive by the day, it didn’t surprise me how much effort it took for the District of Sooke and Evan Parliament to secure a hotel. First, Mr. Parliament offered hoteliers an all-inclusive trip to Sooke, in an effort to display what the municipality had. Since Sooke was to base tourism on the local natural beauty, Evan Parliament needed to tell the story of Sooke. Marketing Sooke’s eco-toursim industry will base its success on generating customer engagement; hotelier or end-customer there must be a desire to Visit Sooke. Since hotels are needed to accommodate guests, and guests are needed to occupy hotel rooms, these interconnected stakeholders will support each other. Evan Parliament managed to secure Prestige Hotels through illustrating a consumer demand for Sooke’s eco-tourism industry.

Evan Parliament had some amazing ideas, which assisted his development of Sooke as a eco-tourism destination. A hotel conference center, as Mr. Parliament discussed encourages consistent tourism activities. Through additional research, I discovered, conferences actually promote business, and during a recession it remains a steady source of income for the host hotel or city (Conference Bay, 2008). I think that it is a very smart idea to incorporate a conference center in a small city like Sooke. It establishes a reason for companies to visit Sooke during a slow economic time, and provides the individuals who enjoyed Sooke, a reason to return. Furthermore, in the partnership agreement, which the District of Sooke and Prestige Hotels completed, allowed Sooke to entice not-for-profit businesses to book conferences free of charge. This creative way of stimulating business in a small town during a recession amazed me.

In conclusion, I found the dynamic experience of creating a tourism industry very interesting. It opened my eyes to the evolving world of tourism. Furthermore, it illustrated how important tourism is to a small resource based town. In my previous reflection paper, I spoke about how Mr. Walker altered the way I thought about my career and I it would seem that Mr. Parliament had a similar effect on me. It is encouraging to see so much career opportunity in tourism. There are jobs in the tourism industry which don’t focus all their effort on hotel operations. In fact, I think I would like to experience working at a DMO once in my career. I think the experience would expand my experience on social responsibility, additionally, working for a DMO will allow demonstrate my passion for a local community. In my opinion, to be involved in a DMO establishes a legacy in the area, which one works. I think it would be neat to tell someone later in my career that it was my ideas, which helped, assert a community’s tourism industry.

References

Department Contacts.(2009). Retrieved April 16, 2010, from http://www.sooke.ca/EN/main/contacts/feedback.php

Statistics Canada. (2006). Primary Industries. Retrieved April 16, 2010, from http://www41.statcan.ca/2006/1664/ceb1664_000-eng.htm

Conference Bay. (2008). Visiting Conferences during a Recession. Retrieved April 16, 2010, from http://conferencebay.wordpress.com/2008/11/03/visiting-conferences-during-a-recession/

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