The North Island College campus in Port Alberni is located on Roger Street. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

The North Island College campus in Port Alberni is located on Roger Street. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

North Island College plans tourism networking event

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on Vancouver Island’s tourism industry

North Island College (NIC) and Vancouver Island University (VIU) are partnering with Tourism Vancouver Island (TVI) for an interactive virtual networking event.

The event, called CONNECT, will take place Wednesday, March 3 from 3-5 p.m.. The goal of the event is to build connections between employers, industry professionals, students and faculty, while bringing together key stakeholders in the industry to share up-to-date information on research, support programs and the future of tourism on Vancouver Island.

“Tourism, as a vital part of the Vancouver Island economy, is being severely shaken through the pandemic,” said Dave Pinel, NIC coordinator for adventure guiding and Indigenous ecotourism, in a press release. “I’ve been impressed by the long-term vision and values-based leadership of Tourism Vancouver Island for supporting immediate sector needs while positioning where and how we land on our feet and recover with shared intention. I welcome this event as a chance to connect tourism students with respected industry partners while together learning and contributing to some of the TVI initiatives for destination recovery, development and management in ways that work well for visitors and residents.”

Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on Vancouver Island’s tourism industry. As tourism operators, organizations, First Nations and governments work to ensure the industry’s recovery, it is becoming clear that the pandemic will leave lasting changes.

“The past year has brought immense challenges to Vancouver Island’s tourism industry,” said Calum Matthews, Director of Destination Development at Tourism Vancouver Island. “Together we will get through this and rebuild towards a more sustainable and balanced tourism economy that ensures ample space for businesses, communities and ecosystems to thrive.”

The CONNECT event will be split into two different parts. Part 1 will bring together industry stakeholders with a presentation from Matthews that will highlight the ongoing efforts to ensure the industry’s recovery while discussing the future of tourism on Vancouver Island. This will be followed by an open Q&A from industry partners and professionals. Part 2 is a networking component to facilitate introductions, conversations and create connections between students and industry partners.

“Collaboration and connection are critical in supporting both employers and students in this time of economic recovery, as VIU and NIC have discovered through our partnership to create the Vancouver Island Work-Integrated Learning (VIWIL) hub,” said Brittany Parker, Interim Director for VIU’s Centre for Experiential Learning. “While there is still so much uncertainty for the tourism and hospitality industries this summer, we feel that connecting talented students with industry will lead to employer needs being met, and additional opportunities for students.”

The VIWIL hub is a free service for all tourism and hospitality operators and employers to use to connect with student talent from NIC and VIU.

Registration for the event is open now. Visit NIC CONNECT or VIU CONNECT for more information.

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