Our reflection viewed by tourists

A woman discovered how difficult it is to find transportation to the region and how scarce info on the Alberni Valley is for travellers.

How many times have you stopped at a shelf full of tourism rack cards on BC Ferries or at an Island airport and looked for Alberni Valley-based information?

How many times have you absentmindedly thought there wasn’t much, then continued on to the cafeteria? Have you ever considered that if that information is not there, then as far as a first-time visitor is concerned, the Alberni Valley does not exist?

In today’s cover story, it’s taken a visitor to point out the obvious to us. An Ontario woman and her family arrived at one of the major transportation points on Vancouver Island—fortunately for us, with the intention of visiting Port Alberni—and discovered how difficult it is to not only find transportation to the region but how scarce information on the Alberni Valley is for travellers.

We spend a lot of time on social media, in public meetings extolling our virtues to anyone who will listen. But how much of that information is filtering over the Hump to the areas that really count?

Perhaps it is time we stopped looking at how we view ourselves and listen to how others view us. This is the perfect time for reflection: we have an entire year before we host the Tourism Association of Vancouver Island conference. An entire year to formulate a plan to market the Alberni Valley and follow through.

We talk about the million or so cars that pass through Port Alberni on their way to the West Coast, and what we can do to snare some of them. If we are to be serious about using tourism as a major economic driver for our community, that thinking is too narrow.

We need to purposefully, proactively plan a way to draw people to the Alberni Valley. And the first step is to look beyond our own borders.

— Alberni Valley News