Tourism New Westminster executive director Tej Kainth was attending a conference on Monday in Vancouver when she got the best news she could be hoping for.
Premier Christy Clark announced that come April 1, 2013, Destination B.C., a new Crown corporation to market the province as a tourism destination, would be starting up.
The move comes just three years after the government scrapped Tourism B.C., which was folded into the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Arts.
"This is awesome," said Kainth, who said that the conference for travel and hospitality stakeholders had participants high-fiving and cheering when they heard Clark's announcement. "Tourism is the second-largest industry in the province and this is a clear sign that the government is looking at ways to increase revenues from this sector."
Kainth said the new corporation signals a willingness on behalf of the province to work closely with regions and communities to grow the tourism pie.
"This means good things for communities," she said. "This allows us to work on partnerships and target the areas that will help everybody. ... We've needed an organization to do the overall marketing for the province. We live in the greatest place in the world and our story needs to be told. This will allow that story to be told."
"With Asia's middle class rapidly expanding and becoming more and more interested in tourism opportunities, this is our time to get out there and start marketing British Columbia," Clark said during her Monday announcement in Vancouver.
Kainth said the best thing about the new corporation is that is has been designed by tourism industry professionals. But there's still a lot of work to be done by next April.
"There still has to be a board (of directors) formed and this still has to go through legislation," she said.
But if that goes through, come April 1, the new Crown corporation will receive the full funding that government was using for tourism marketing.
One thing Kainth would like to see for the Royal City is the establishment of a two per cent hotel tax, which currently doesn't exist in the city, even though it does in neighbouring Burnaby.
"We're still hoping for that hotel tax to come in," said Kainth. "Maybe that's a conversation that can be had."