Kermodei Tourism forges on

A Terrace area tourism marketing body is tackling cost-saving strategies after losing a major revenue source.

Despite losing nearly half of its operating revenue this year, a local tourism marketing body is forging ahead.

Kermodei Tourism lost an estimated $125,000 in revenues annually, when a two per cent tax on hotel and motel room rates wasn’t renewed as of June 2012.

Money for marketing and running its visitor info centre will now come mostly from the City of Terrace and through advertising revenues generated through a tourism magazine.

Two staff positions have been combined as a cost saving measure, said tourism board member Seth Downs.

“Our budget now contains much lower marketing expenses in last half of 2012 and entire 2013 budget,” he said.

For next year’s budget, a large portion has been shaved off of the marketing side, he said.

“Revenue lost equals $125,000 per year that was used solely for marketing Terrace and area as a tourism destination,” he said. “We will now only spend approximately $20,000 – $25,000 in 2013 on marketing activities.”

This will result in less advertising of the area, although there are efficiencies to be made by combining efforts with other local and regional tourism bodies.

For example, Kermodei Tourism will share a booth at the Vancouver Adventure Outdoor Show with northwest counterparts.

The society does plan to lobby local hotels and motels to reinstate the two per cent tax but for now,  sometimes forced change creates fresh perspective and insight, said Downs.

Part of that will come from new executive director Tyler Clarke.

His position combines what had been two jobs – one running the info centre and one  concentrating on marketing and events.

Clarke says he’s pumped to take on the challenge and plans to use social media as a low-cost marketing tool.

“What I’m hoping to bring is some change, youth and energy,” said Clarke. “What I want is to get the youth in Terrace excited about tourism.”

Part of this plan is to  ramp up a volunteer program.

“I want to work with the city of Terrace as well as with the high school to get some volunteers in here,” said Clarke, adding this will help students add to their resumes build volunteer hours and gain work experience.

He hopes it also means extended hours for the Visitor Info centre and that font-of-the-line hosts will be at the airport to greet people arriving to the Terrace-Kitimat, letting them know about regional activities and destinations.

And this year, marketing efforts will have a more regional focus.

“Our focus and strategy will definitely be on locals, not only in Terrace but around B.C.,” said Downs.

Other strategies for the year include more participation in local events like parades and getting more players in the local tourism industry to start talking about strategies and ideas.

As part of this, the society has recently put a call out for three directors to sit on the society’s board with hopes of attracting hoteliers to sit ‘round the society’s planning table.

Also, the society plans to beef up retail at the local Visitor Info Centre, which in 2012 saw a ten per cent increase in the number of visitors from last year, and a 13 per cent jump from 2010.

This year’s operating revenue comes from a  yearly operating grant from the City of Terrace amounting to $126,545, and advertising revenues from a tourism magazine called Visit Terrace.