Tourism moves ahead with residents’ ideas

Area's strengths, weaknesses identified as part of three-year strategic plan.

Nanaimo residents have identified hundreds of tourism opportunities, now it’s up to the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation to determine which ones should be pursued.

The feedback will be considered by NEDC’s Tourism Leadership Committee, in partnership with Chemistry Consulting Group, during a three-year strategic plan to enhance the region’s tourism product.

During a recent survey, 110 residents and tourism stakeholders offered ideas like developing new products and attractions, creating more festivals and events, building new tourism infrastructure, and implementing new or different marketing and public relations programs.

Nanaimo’s tourism strengths, according to survey responses, include marine resources, heritage, environmental splendour, central location, our many parks and trails, outdoor activities and cultural assets.

Dan Brady, chairman of the Tourism Leadership Committee, said the volume of responses suggests residents are engaged in the process.

“The research clearly shows our residents share the tourism industry’s passion for our region,” said Brady.

The survey also revealed a variety of potential challenges facing Nanaimo on the tourism front, including the area’s past reputation and lack of attractions. Transportation costs were also identified as a negative.

Information was also gathered through interviews, phone calls, e-mails and media responses.

As part of the next step in the process, NEDC and the leadership committee will consider all of the input received and draft a list of priority tourism initiatives that can be implemented or initiated within the next two or three years.

The community will have an opportunity to review and comment on the selections at three open houses scheduled for Nov. 14-15 in north Nanaimo, south Nanaimo and Gabriola Island.

A final report will be released towards the end of the year.