A Sailboat navigates through the Nanaimo harbour on a summer afternoon. The City of Nanaimo is changing its tourism strategy in an effort to attract more visitors.

A Sailboat navigates through the Nanaimo harbour on a summer afternoon. The City of Nanaimo is changing its tourism strategy in an effort to attract more visitors.

Editorial: Tourism change a leap of faith

The City of Nanaimo decided this month on a significant shakeup of its tourism strategy.

The City of Nanaimo wants more tourists to come here, but it isn’t entirely sure, yet, how to make that happen.

The municipality decided this month on a significant shakeup of its tourism strategy, pulling the file away from the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation. The city doesn’t exactly have an alternative plan in place, though it does have notions of one or more private interests providing tourism services along with conference centre management and marketing. It will begin seeking expressions of interest by month’s end.

Part of the reason for the shakeup seems to be change for the sake of change, but there is some other rationale. Two different reports in recent months – the core services review and a conference centre hotel feasibility study – have pointed out the lack of a comprehensive tourism strategy in Nanaimo. There’s certainly supporting evidence of a lack of communication and co-operation between tourism partners.

That said, a new, broader, more collaborative tourism strategy could have still been implemented under the leadership of the NEDC, theoretically. For one reason or another, the city is determined to go in a different, unknown direction.

We can speculate why tourism will be separated from economic development. An audit of the NEDC, which hasn’t been publicly released, might have raised new accountability concerns that factored into the decision.

We know city council wants to consider all recommendations of the core review. Making changes to tourism structure checks one of those boxes, albeit by taking a chance that something better is bound to turn up. Either way, calling for expressions of interest regarding tourism delivery will provide Nanaimo with new ideas and will force, at some point, leadership and decision-making.

There always have been and always will be a lot of good reasons to come to Nanaimo. We should continually be evaluating how we’re getting that message across.