Alberni no help for tourism: McRuer

A local tourism operator who has gone out of business thinks city hall hasn’t done a good job with how it handles tourism.

A local tourism operator who has gone out of business thinks city hall hasn’t done a good job with how it handles tourism.

Port Alberni resident Sandy McRuer, who operated Rainbird Excursions for six years, took aim at the city at Monday’s council meeting, saying the city should be attracting visitors and permanent residents, McRuer said. “In this respect, the city has failed,” he said.

The city’s responsibility for tourism includes attracting visitors and permanent residents yet doing so isn’t a high priority backed with money, he said—something that isn’t congruent with elsewhere on the Island, McRuer said.

“Other cities in our region…help fund the external marketing organizations (but) the city subsidizes tourism attractions like McLean Mill,” he said.

The city helps underwrite the visitor centre, “But these funds aren’t attracting people to the town,” McRuer said. “These people have already arrived. The visitor information centre is merely directing traffic.”

The city hasn’t grown in 20 years and it retains some of the lowest housing prices on the Island. The retirement population is growing every year and is a driver of economies from Courtenay to Nanaimo, he said.

Despite this, Alberni’s website doesn’t mention any of the infrastructure in the Alberni Valley that would be attractive to seniors, or would capture long-stay visitors.

The Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce and Alberni Valley Tourism don’t collect comprehensive enough data to get any more than a thumbnail glance at who visitors are, McRuer said.

Room revenue stats are collected, “but they miss all the B&Bs and campgrounds,” he said.

And while the visitor’s centre collects its own data it is part of a provincial stats package and for funding purposes,” McRuer said.

“This gives the impression that tourism is thriving in the Valley.

However, they are misleading in that many of the visitors aren’t stopping, but going on to the west coast of the Island,” he said.

It’s not as though the city doesn’t have the resources to do a better job of tourism. “But we are spending $850,000 on average per year between the mill, the museum and on heritage,” McRuer said. The city has gone over budget on this nine times over seven years for a total of $1 million.

“I think city council needs to recognize its role in promoting and supporting tourism in this community and do so within the context of the Vancouver Island brand,” McRuer said.

Coun. Jack McLeman asked how McRuer attracted customers to his business. McRuer replied that they came mostly through his website, now taken down. He received no referrals from the visitors centre and few from hotels, although he referred many customers to hotels, he said.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

Twitter.com/AlberniNews

Just Posted

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

The remains of the Mid-Island Co-op in Whiskey Creek along the Alberni Highway on Friday, June 18, after a blaze the day before devastated the gas station. (Michael Briones photo)
VIDEO: Whiskey Creek gas station destroyed by fire after camper van explosion

Nine fire departments responded to the incident, no injuries reported

New Vancouver Island University chancellor Judith Sayers was sworn in at a virtual ceremony June 17. (Submitted photo)
VIU’s new chancellor seeks innovation and equality in post-secondary education

Judith Sayers officially sworn in as Vancouver Island University chancellor

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

British Columbia’s premier says he’s received a second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. (Twitter/John Horgan)
B.C. premier gets 2nd dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

John Horgan shared a photo of himself on social media Friday afternoon holding a completed vaccination card

A lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS
No winning ticket sold for Friday’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot

The huge jackpot has remained unclaimed for several weeks now

Karl and Stephanie Ann Johanson were thrilled to spot a pair of Sandhill Cranes in the Panama Flats this month, an unusual appearance for such birds. (Photo by Stephanie Ann Johanson)
WATCH: Sandhill cranes an unusual, joyful sight in South Island parkland

These birds don’t often touch down on their way between northern B.C. and Mexico

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

(V.I. Trail/Google Maps)
Now 90% complete, Vancouver Island trail forges new funding parnership

Victoria Foundation takes on Vancouver Island Trail Association; fund valued at $40,000

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read