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Council removes tourism from Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation’s responsibilities

NANAIMO – City council makes in-camera decisions tied to NEDC, conference centre and Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Association.

Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation will no longer handle tourism, destination and conference marketing.

Nanaimo city council made an in-camera decision to give tourism, destination marketing and conference marketing services, previously under the NEDC umbrella, to one or more “alternative service providers,” according to a city report by chief administrative officer Tracy Samra. Economic development services would continue to be handled by the economic development corporation.

According to the report on the agenda of tonight’s (Oct. 17) council meeting, a series of decisions tied to the NEDC as well as the Vancouver Island Conference Centre and Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Association have now been made by city council. The move comes on the heels of a market feasibility study on the conference centre and hotel, and a core review, which made recommendations about the taxpayer-funded organizations, and consultations with the groups over the past four months.

A recent market feasibility study, for example, had claimed that despite a mission to promote meetings and convention business the destination marketing organization hasn’t strategically planned or implemented any marketing activities specifically directed at meeting and convention markets and there’s collaborative marketing plan between Tourism Nanaimo, the conference centre and its hotel partners. Tourism and development of the city as a conference and leisure destination face a “variety of challenges,” the city report says, and a newly organized and coordinated approach is required.

“Despite the challenges identified via the supplied reports, consultation and reviews, the city acknowledges the NEDC is led by a committed board whose membership and work has Nanaimo’s best interests in mind with respect to the success of the city’s economic development function and its tourism potential,” said the report, authored by Tracy Samra, chief administrative officer. “While the board’s guidance of economic development is very well suited, challenges surrounding the complexity of the organizational interconnections associated with tourism and destination marketing require renewed attention.”

Nanaimo city council has also agreed to have staff members put an accountability strategy into effect for the NEDC, Vancouver Island Conference Centre and Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Association that involves adopting a new partnership agreement with NEDC and for staff members to come up with option for administrative efficiencies and “enhanced value for money” for all three organizations by Oct. 31.

Politicians are also looking to invite the trio of organizations, all taxpayer-funded, to present annual operating budgets by the end of the November, and have given staff members the same timeline to pitch 2017 funding levels for the trio of organizations and make recommendations on the delivery of tourism and conference marketing services.

More to come.

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