Introduction to Tourism and Hospitality in BC

Introduction to Tourism and Hospitality in BC

Morgan Westcott, Editor

Don Webster, Donna Owens, Eugene Thomlinson, Geoffrey Bird, Griff Tripp, Heather Knowles, Keith Henry, Kelley Glazer, Lynda Robinson, Micki McCartney, Morgan Westcott, Peter Briscoe, Ray Freeman, Rebecca Wilson-Mah, and Terry Hood


Victoria, B.C.



About BCcampus Open Education

Introduction to Tourism and Hospitality in B.C. was created by a team of authors led by Morgan Westcott. This creation is a part of the B.C. Open Textbook Project.

BCcampus Open Education began in 2012 as the B.C. Open Textbook Project with the goal of making post-secondary education in British Columbia more accessible by reducing students’ costs through the use of open textbooks and other OER. BCcampus supports the post-secondary institutions of British Columbia as they adapt and evolve their teaching and learning practices to enable powerful learning opportunities for the students of B.C. BCcampus Open Education is funded by the British Columbia Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills & Training, and the Hewlett Foundation.

Open educational resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research resources that, through permissions granted by the copyright holder, allow others to use, distribute, keep, or make changes to them. Our open textbooks are openly licensed using a Creative Commons licence, and are offered in various e-book formats free of charge, or as printed books that are available at cost.

For more information about open education in British Columbia, please visit the BCcampus Open Education website. If you are an instructor who is using this book for a course, please fill out our Adoption of an Open Textbook form.




A smooth lake with mountains rising up in the background.
Figure 1.0 Super, Natural British Columbia is one of the world’s premier tourism destinations. Together, we’ll learn how the industry works and help prepare you for a career in tourism and hospitality.

Welcome! If you’re reading this book, then you likely have a strong interest in pursuing a career in BC’s tourism and hospitality industry. Perhaps you are already working in the the industry and would like to enhance your skills. No matter what your background, we’re happy to share this collaborative work that pulls together decades of industry experience and academic know-how.

An Introduction to the Industry

No textbook could cover, in depth, the tourism industry in BC and the global context for its development. This textbook is intended to be a stepping stone for further resources, and is written with a first year college and university audience in mind.

Created through Collaboration

The book you’re reading was created through a collaborative process managed by LinkBC. It involved input from educators at multiple institutions, industry leaders, employers, and past graduates of BC’s tourism and hospitality management programs.

Chapter Organization

Each chapter is organized thematically, and moves from a global, to a national, to a provincial context. Some chapters will be quite global in focus while others will concentrate primarily on British Columbia. Chapter content is based on available data and research, and input from collaborators.

Additional Resources

Each chapter features “Spotlight On” text boxes that highlight an organization, business, or other key component of the chapter’s theme. “Take a Closer Look” features encourage students to do further reading on particular subjects.

At the end of each chapter, key terms are presented in alphabetical order to help students gain confidence with terminology; these terms are summarized in a Glossary at the end of the textbook.. These are followed by chapter exercises and a case study for in-depth exploration of the subject matter.

For Instructor Resources or More Information

To learn more about the creation of this textbook, or for instructor resources, please contact LinkBC: the tourism & hospitality education network, by visiting its website at or sending a tweet to @linkBC.


Figure 1.0 The Lions – Lake Capilano, BC by Jason Mrachina is used under a CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.


Chapter 1. History and Overview

Learning Objectives

  • Specify the commonly understood definitions of tourism and tourist
  • Classify tourism into distinct industry groups using North American Industry Classification Standards (NAICS)
  • Define hospitality 
  • Gain knowledge about the origins of the tourism industry
  • Provide an overview of the economic, social, and environmental impacts of tourism worldwide
  • Understand the history of tourism development in Canada and British Columbia
  • Analyze the value of tourism in Canada and British Columbia
  • Identify key industry associations and understand their mandates

What Is Tourism?

Before engaging in a study of tourism, let’s have a closer look at what this term means.

Definition of Tourism

There are a number of ways tourism can be defined, and for this reason, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) embarked on a project from 2005 to 2007 to create a common glossary of terms for tourism. It defines tourism as follows:

Tourism is a social, cultural and economic phenomenon which entails the movement of people to countries or places outside their usual environment for personal or business/professional purposes. These people are called visitors (which may be either tourists or excursionists; residents or non-residents) and tourism has to do with their activities, some of which imply tourism expenditure (United Nations World Tourism Organization, 2008).

Using this definition, we can see that tourism is the movement of people for a number of purposes (whether business or pleasure).

Definition of Tourist

Building on the definition of tourism, a commonly accepted description of a tourist is “someone who travels at least 80 km from his or her home for at least 24 hours, for business or leisure or other reasons” (LinkBC, 2008, p.8). The United Nations World Tourism Organization (1995) helps us break down this definition further by stating tourists can be:

  1. Domestic (residents of a given country travelling only within that country)
  2. Inbound (non-residents travelling in a given country)
  3. Outbound (residents of one country travelling in another country)

The scope of tourism, therefore, is broad and encompasses a number of activities.

Spotlight On: United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

UNWTO is the United Nations agency responsible “for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism” (UNWTO, 2014b). Its membership includes 156 countries and over 400 affiliates such as private companies and non-governmental organizations. It promotes tourism as a way of developing communities while encouraging ethical behaviour to mitigate negative impacts. For more information, visit the UNWTO website:

NAICS: The North American Industry Classification System

Given the sheer size of the tourism industry, it can be helpful to break it down into broad industry groups using a common classification system. The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) was jointly created by the Canadian, US, and Mexican governments to ensure common analysis across all three countries (British Columbia Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training, 2013a). The tourism-related groupings created using NAICS are (in alphabetical order):

  1. Accommodation
  2. Food and beverage services (commonly known as “F & B”)
  3. Recreation and entertainment
  4. Transportation
  5. Travel services

These industry groups are based on the similarity of the “labour processes and inputs” used for each (Government of Canada, 2013). For instance, the types of employees and resources required to run an accommodation business — whether it be a hotel, motel, or even a campground — are quite similar. All these businesses need staff to check in guests, provide housekeeping, employ maintenance workers, and provide a place for people to sleep. As such, they can be grouped together under the heading of accommodation. The same is true of the other four groupings, and the rest of this text explores these industry groups, and other aspects of tourism, in more detail. 

Figure 1.1 Welcoming storefronts in Nelson

The Hospitality Industry

When looking at tourism it’s important to consider the term hospitality. Some define hospitality as “the business of helping people to feel welcome and relaxed and to enjoy themselves” (Discover Hospitality, 2015, ¶ 3). Simply put, the hospitality industry is the combination of the accommodation and food and beverage groupings, collectively making up the largest segment of the industry. You’ll learn more about accommodations and F & B in Chapter 3 and Chapter 4, respectively. 

Before we seek to understand the five industry groupings in more detail, it’s important to have an overview of the history and impacts of tourism to date.

Global Overview

Origins of Tourism

Travel for leisure purposes has evolved from an experience reserved for very few people into something enjoyed by many. Historically, the ability to travel was reserved for royalty and the upper classes. From ancient Roman times through to the 17th century, young men of high standing were encouraged to travel through Europe on a “grand tour” (Chaney, 2000). Through the Middle Ages, many societies encouraged the practice of religious pilgrimage, as reflected in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and other literature.

The word hospitality predates the use of the word tourism, and first appeared in the 14th century. It is derived from the Latin hospes, which encompasses the words guest, host, and foreigner (Latdict, 2014). The word tourist appeared in print much later, in 1772 (Griffiths and Griffiths, 1772). William Theobald suggests that the word tour comes from Greek and Latin words for circle and turn, and that tourism and tourist represent the activities of circling away from home, and then returning (Theobald, 1998).

Tourism Becomes Business

Cox & Kings, the first known travel agency, was founded in 1758 when Richard Cox became official travel agent of the British Royal Armed Forces (Cox & Kings, 2014).  Almost 100 years later, in June 1841, Thomas Cook opened the first leisure travel agency, designed to help Britons improve their lives by seeing the world and participating in the temperance movement. In 1845, he ran his first commercial packaged tour, complete with cost-effective railway tickets and a printed guide (Thomas Cook, 2014).

The continued popularity of rail travel and the emergence of the automobile presented additional milestones in the development of tourism. In fact, a long journey taken by Karl Benz’s wife in 1886 served to kick off interest in auto travel and helped to publicize his budding car company, which would one day become Mercedes Benz (Auer, 2006). We take a closer look at the importance of car travel later this chapter, and of transportation to the tourism industry in Chapter 2.

Fast forward to 1952 with the first commercial air flights from London, England, to Johannesburg, South Africa, and Colombo, Sri Lanka (Flightglobal, 2002) and the dawn of the jet age, which many herald as the start of the modern tourism industry. The 1950s also saw the creation of Club Méditérannée (Gyr, 2010) and similar club holiday destinations, the precursor of today’s all-inclusive resorts.

The decade that followed is considered to have been a significant period in tourism development, as more travel companies came onto the scene, increasing competition for customers and moving toward “mass tourism, introducing new destinations and modes of holidaying” (Gyr, 2010, p. 32).

Industry growth has been interrupted at several key points in history, including World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II. At the start of this century, global events thrust international travel into decline including the September 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center in New York City (known as 9/11), the war in Iraq, perceived threat of future terrorist attacks, and health scares including SARS, BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy), and West Nile virus (Government of Canada, 2006).

At the same time, the industry began a massive technological shift as increased internet use revolutionized travel services. Through the 2000s, online travel bookings grew exponentially, and by 2014 global leader Expedia had expanded to include brands such as, the Hotwire Group, trivago, and Expedia CruiseShip Centers, earning revenues of over $4.7 million (Expedia Inc., 2013).

A more in-depth exploration of the impact of the online marketplace, and other trends in global tourism, is provided in Chapter 14. But as you can already see, the impacts of the global tourism industry today are impressive and far reaching. Let’s have a closer look at some of these outcomes.

Tourism Impacts

Tourism impacts can be grouped into three main categories: economic, social, and environmental. These impacts are analyzed using data gathered by businesses, governments, and industry organizations.

Economic Impacts

According to a UNWTO report, in 2011, “international tourism receipts exceeded US$1 trillion for the first time” (UNWTO, 2012). UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai stated this excess of $1 trillion was especially important news given the global economic crisis of 2008, as tourism could help rebuild still-struggling economies, because it is a key export and labour intensive (UNWTO, 2012). 

Four students dressed in formal business attire.
Figure 1.2 Students visiting Vancouver for a conference

Tourism around the world is now worth over $1 trillion annually, and it’s a growing industry almost everywhere. Regions with the highest growth in terms of tourism dollars earned are the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific, and Africa. Only the Middle East posted negative growth at the time of the report (UNWTO, 2012).

While North and South America are growing the fastest, Europe continues to lead the way in terms of overall percentage of dollars earned (UNWTO, 2012):

Global industry growth and high receipts are expected to continue. In its August 2014 expenditure barometer, the UNWTO found worldwide visitation had increased by 22 million people in the first half of the year over the previous year, to reach 517 million visits (UNWTO, 2014a). As well, the UNWTO’s Tourism 2020 Vision predicts that international arrivals will reach nearly 1.6 billion by 2020. Read more about the Tourism 2020 Vision:

Social Impacts

A First Nations totem pole.
Figure 1.3 First Nations art on display at Vancouver Island University

In addition to the economic benefits of tourism development, positive social impacts include an increase in amenities (e.g., parks, recreation facilities), investment in arts and culture, celebration of First Nations people, and community pride. When developed conscientiously, tourism can, and does, contribute to a positive quality of life for residents.

However, as identified by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP, 2003a), negative social impacts of tourism can include:

Some of these issues are explored in further detail in Chapter 12, which examines the development of Aboriginal tourism in British Columbia.

Environmental Impacts

Tourism relies on, and greatly impacts, the natural environment in which it operates. Even though many areas of the world are conserved in the form of parks and protected areas, tourism development can have severe negative impacts. According to UNEP (2003b), these can include:

The environmental impacts of tourism can reach outside local areas and have an effect on the global ecosystem. One example is increased air travel, which is a major contributor to climate change. Chapter 10 looks at the environmental impacts of tourism in more detail.

Whether positive or negative, tourism is a force for change around the world, and the industry is transforming at a staggering rate. But before we delve deeper into our understanding of tourism, let’s take a look at the development of the sector in our own backyard.

Canada Overview

Origins of Tourism in Canada

Tourism has long been a source of economic development for our country. Some argue that as early as 1534 the explorers of the day, such as Jacques Cartier, were Canada’s first tourists (Dawson, 2004), but most agree the major developments in Canada’s tourism industry followed milestones in the transportation sector: by rail, by car, and eventually, in the skies.

Railway Travel: The Ties That Bind

A train.
Figure 1.4 Canadian Pacific 4-4-0 A-2-m No 136

The dawn of the railway age in Canada came midway through the 19th century. The first railway was launched in 1836 (Library and Archives Canada, n.d.), and by the onset of World War I in 1914, four railways dominated the Canadian landscape: Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), Canadian Northern Railway (CNOR), the Grand Trunk Railway (GTR), and the Grand Trunk Pacific (GTP). Unfortunately, their rapid expansion soon brought the last three into near bankruptcy (Library and Archives Canada, n.d.).

In 1923, these three rail companies were amalgamated into the Canadian National Railway (CNR), and together with the CPR, these trans-continentals dominated the Canadian travel landscape until other forms of transportation became more popular. In 1978, with declining interest in rail travel, the CPR and CNR were forced to combine their passenger services to form VIA Rail (Library and Archives Canada, n.d.).

The Rise of the Automobile

The rising popularity of car travel was partially to blame for the decline in rail travel, although it took time to develop. When the first cross-country road trip took place in 1912, there were only 16 kilometres of paved road across Canada (MacEachern, 2012). Cars were initially considered a nuisance, and the National Parks Branch banned entry to automobiles, but later slowly began to embrace them. By the 1930s, some parks, such as Cape Breton Highlands National Park, were actually created to provide visitors with scenic drives (MacEachern, 2012).

It would take decades before a coast-to-coast highway was created, with the Trans-Canada Highway officially opening in Revelstoke in 1962. When it was fully completed in 1970, it was the longest national highway in the world, spanning one-fifth of the globe (MacEachern, 2012).

Early Tourism Promotion

As early as 1892, enterprising Canadians like the Brewsters became the country’s first tour operators, leading guests through areas such as Banff National Park (Brewster Travel Canada, 2014). Communities across Canada developed their own marketing strategies as transportation development took hold. For instance, the town of Maisonneuve in Quebec launched a campaign from 1907 to 1915 calling itself “Le Pittsburg du Canada.” And by 1935 Quebec was spending $250,000 promoting tourism, with Ontario, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia also enjoying established provincial tourism bureaus (Dawson, 2004).

National Airlines

Our national airline, Air Canada, was formed in 1937 as Trans-Canada Air Lines. In many ways, Air Canada was a world leader in passenger aviation, introducing the world’s first computerized reservations system in 1963 (Globe and Mail, 2014). Through the 1950s and 1960s, reduced airfares saw increased mass travel. Competitors including Canadian Pacific (which became Canadian Airlines in 1987) began to launch international flights during this time to Australia, Japan, and South America (Canadian Geographic, 2000). By 2000, Air Canada was facing financial peril and forced to restructure. A numbered company, owned in part by Air Canada, purchased 82% of Canadian Airline’s shares, with the result of Air Canada becoming the country’s only national airline (Canadian Geographic, 2000).

Parks and Protected Areas

A look at the evolution of tourism in Canada would be incomplete without a quick study of our national parks and protected areas. The official conserving of our natural spaces began around the same time as the railway boom, and in 1885 Banff was established as Canada’s first national park. By 1911, the Dominion Forest Reserves and Parks Act created the Dominion Parks Branch, the first of its kind in the world (Shoalts, 2011).

The systemic conservation and celebration of Canada’s parks over the next century would help shape Canada’s identity, both at home and abroad. Through the 1930s, conservation officers and interpreters were hired to enhance visitor experiences. By 1970, the National Park System Plan divided Canada into 39 regions, with the goal of preserving each distinct ecosystem for future generations. In 1987, the country’s first national marine park was established in Ontario, and in the 20 years that followed, 10 new national parks and marine conservation areas were created (Shoalts, 2011).

The role of parks and protected areas in tourism is explored in greater detail in Chapter 5 (recreation) and Chapter 10 (environmental stewardship).

Global Shock and Industry Decline

As with the global industry, Canada’s tourism industry was impacted by world events such as the Great Depression and the World Wars.

More recently, global events such as 9/11, the SARS outbreak, and the war in Iraq took their toll on tourism receipts. Worldwide arrivals to Canada dropped 1% to 694 million in 2003, after three years of stagnant growth. In 2005, spending reached $61.4 billion with domestic travel accounting for 71% (Government of Canada, 2006).

Tourism in Canada Today

In 2011, tourism created $78.8 billion in total economic activity and 603,400 jobs. Tourism accounted for more of Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP) than agriculture, forestry, and fisheries combined (Tourism Industry Association of Canada, 2014).

Spotlight On: The Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC)

Founded in 1930 and based in Ottawa, the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) is the national private-sector advocate for the industry. Its goal is to support policies and programs that help the industry grow, while representing over 400 members including airports, concert halls, festivals and events, travel services providers, and businesses of all sizes. For more information, visit the Tourism Industry Association of Canada’s website:

Unfortunately, while overall receipts from tourism appear healthy, and globally the industry is growing, according to a recent report, Canada’s historic reliance on the US market (which traditionally accounts for 75% of our market) is troubling. Because three out of every four international visitors to Canada originates in the United States, the 55% decline in that market since 2000 is being very strongly felt here. Many feel the decline in American visitors to Canada can be attributed to tighter passport and border regulations, the economic downturn (including the 2008 global economic crisis), and a stronger Canadian dollar (TIAC, 2014).

Despite disappointing numbers from the United States, Canada continues to see strong visitation from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Australia, and China. In 2011, we welcomed 3,180,262 tourists from our top 15 inbound countries (excluding the United States). Canadians travelling domestically accounted for 80% of tourism revenues in the country, and TIAC suggested that a focus on rebounding US visitation would help grow the industry (TIAC, 2014).

Spotlight On: The Canadian Tourism Commission

Housed in Vancouver, Destination Canada, previously the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC), is responsible for promoting Canada in several foreign markets: Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It works with private companies, travel services providers, meeting professionals, and government organizations to help leverage Canada’s tourism brand, Canada. Keep Exploring. It also conducts research and has a significant image library (Canadian Tourism Commission, 2014). For more information, visit Destination Canada website:

As organizations like TIAC work to confront barriers to travel, the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) is active abroad, encouraging more visitors to explore our country. In Chapter 8, we’ll delve more into the challenges and triumphs of selling tourism at home and abroad.

The great news for British Columbia is that once in Canada, most international visitors tend to remain in the province they landed in, and BC is one of three provinces that receives the bulk of this traffic (TIAC, 2012). In fact, BC’s tourism industry is one of the healthiest in Canada today. Let’s have a look at how our provincial industry was established and where it stands now.

British Columbia Overview

Origins of Tourism in BC

As with the history of tourism in Canada, it’s often stated that the first tourists to BC were explorers. In 1778, Captain James Cook touched down on Vancouver Island, followed by James Douglas in 1842, a British agent who had been sent to find new headquarters for the Hudson’s Bay Company, ultimately choosing Victoria. Through the 1860s, BC’s gold rush attracted prospectors from around the world, with towns and economies springing up along the trail (PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2009).

Railway Travel: Full Steam Ahead!

The development of BC’s tourism industry began in earnest in the late 1800s when the CPR built accommodation properties along itsnewly completed trans-Canada route, capturing revenues from overnight stays to help alleviate their increasing corporate debt. Following the 1886 construction of small lodges at stops in Field, Rogers Pass, and Fraser Canyon, the CPR opened the Hotel Vancouver in May 1887 (Dawson, 2004).

As opposed to Atlantic Canada, where tourism promotion centred around attracting hunters and fishermen for a temporary infusion of cash, in British Columbia tourism was seen as a way to lure farmers and settlers to stay in the new province. Industry associations began to form quickly: the Tourist Association of Victoria (TAV) in February 1902, and the Vancouver Tourist Association in June of the same year (Dawson, 2004).

Many of the campaigns struck by these and other organizations between 1890 and 1930 centred on the province’s natural assets, as people sought to escape modern convenience and enjoy the environment. A collaborative group called the Pacific Northwest Travel Association (BC, Washington, and Oregon) promoted “The Pacific Northwest: The World’s Greatest Out of Doors,” calling BC “The Switzerland of North America.” Promotions like these seemed to have had an effect: in 1928, over 370,000 tourists visited Victoria, spending over $3.5 million (Dawson, 2004).

The Great Depression and World War II

As the world’s economy was sent into peril during the Great Depression in the 1930s, tourism was seen as an economic solution. A newly renamed Greater Victoria Publicity Bureau touted a “100 for 1” multiplier effect of tourism spending, with visitor revenues accounting for around 13.5% of BC’s income in 1930. By 1935, an organization known as the TTDA (Tourist Trade Development Association of Victoria and Vancouver Island) looked to create a more stable industry through strategies to increase visitors’ length of stay (Dawson, 2004).

In 1937, the provincial Bureau of Industrial and Tourist Development (BITD) was formed through special legislation with a goal of increasing tourist traffic. By 1938, the organization changed its name to the British Columbia Government Travel Bureau (BCGTB) and was granted a budget increase to $105,000. This was soon followed by an expansion of the BC Tourist Council designed to solicit input from across the province. And in 1939, Vancouver welcomed the King and Queen of England and celebrated the opening of the Lions Gate Bridge, activities that reportedly bolstered tourism numbers (Dawson, 2004).

The December 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii had negative repercussions for tourism on the Pacific Rim and was responsible for an era of decreased visitation to British Columbia, despite attempts by some to market the region as exciting. From 1939 to 1943, US visits to Vancouver (measured at the border) dropped from over 307,000 to approximately 183,600. Just two years later, however, that number jumped to 369,250, the result of campaigns like the 1943 initiative aimed at Americans that marketed BC as “comrades in war” (Dawson, 2004).

Post-War Rebound

We, with all due modesty, cannot help but claim that we are entering British Columbia’s half-century, and cannot help but observe that B.C. also stands for BOOM COUNTRY. – Phil Gagliardi, BC Minister of Highways, 1955 (Dawson, 2004, p.190)

A burst of post-war spending began in 1946, and although short-lived, was supported by steady government investment in marketing throughout the 1950s. As tourism grew in BC, however, so did competition for US dollars from Mexico, the Caribbean, and Europe. The decade that followed saw an emphasis on promoting BC’s history, its “Britishness,” and a commodification of Aboriginal culture. The BCGTB began marketing efforts to extend the travel season, encouraging travel in September, prime fishing season. It also tried to push visitors to specific areas, including the Lower Fraser Valley, the Okanagan-Fraser Canyon Loop, and the Kamloops-Cariboo region (Dawson, 2004).

A table setting in a fancy restaurant.
Figure 1.5 Dining at the Culinary Institute of Vancouver Island

In 1954, Vancouver hosted the British Empire Games, investing in the construction of Empire Stadium. A few years later, an increased emphasis on events and convention business saw the Greater Vancouver Tourist Association change its name in 1962 to the Greater Vancouver Visitors and Convention Bureau (PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2009).

The ski industry was also on the rise: in 1961, the lodge and chairlift on Tod Mountain (now Sun Peaks) opened, and Whistler followed suit five years later (PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2009). Ski partners became pioneers of collaborative marketing in the province with the foundation of the Ski Marketing Advisory Committee (SMAC) supported by Tod Mountain and Big White, evolving into today’s Canada’s West Ski Area Association (Magnes, 2010). This pioneer spirit was evident across the ski sector: the entire sport of heliskiing was invented by Hans Gosmer of BC’s Canadian Mountain Holidays, and today the province holds 90% of the world’s heliskiing market share (McLeish, 2014).

The concept of collaboration extended throughout the province as innovative funding structures saw the cost of marketing programs shared between government and industry in BC. These programs were distributed through regional channels (originally eight regions in the province), and considered “the most constructive and forward looking plan of its kind in Canada” (Dawson 2004, p.194).

Tourism in BC continued to grow through the 1970s. In 1971, the Hotel Room Tax Act was introduced, allowing for a 5% tax to be collected on room nights with the funds collected to be put toward marketing and development. By 1978, construction had begun on Whistler Village, with Blackcomb Mountain opening two years later (PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2009). Funding programs in the late 1970s and early 1980s such as the Canada BC Tourism Agreement (CBCTA) and Travel Industry Development Subsidiary Agreement (TIDSA) allowed communities to invest in projects that would make them more attractive tourism destinations. In the mountain community of Kimberley, for instance, the following improvements were implemented through a $3.1 million forgivable loan: a new road to the ski resort, a covered tennis court, a mountain lodge, an alpine slide, and nine more holes for the golf course (e-Know, 2011).

Around the same time, the “Super, Natural British Columbia” brand was introduced, and a formal bid was approved for Vancouver to host a fair then known as Transpo 86 (later Expo 86). Tourism in the province was about to truly take off.

Expo 86 and Beyond

By the time the world fair Expo 86 came to a close in October 1986, it had played host to 20,111,578 guests. Infrastructure developments, including rapid rail, airport improvements, a new trade and convention centre at Canada Place (with a cruise ship terminal), and hotel construction, had positioned the city and the province for further growth (PricewaterhouseCooopers, 2009). The construction and opening of the Coquihalla Highway through to 1990 enhanced the travel experience and reduced travel times to vast sections of the province (Magnes, 2010).

Take a Closer Look: The Value of Tourism

Tourism Vancouver Island, with the support of many partners, has created a website that directly addresses the value of tourism in the region. The site looks at the economics of tourism, social benefits of tourism, and a “what’s your role?” feature that helps users understand where they fit in. Explore the Tourism Vancouver Island website:

By 2000, Vancouver International Airport (YVR) was named number one in the world by the International Air Transport Association’s survey of international passengers. Five years later, the airport welcomed a record 16.4 million passengers (PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2009).

Going for Gold

A crowd of people dressed in red and white Canadian jerseys cheer.
Figure 1.6 Canada vs Switzerland

In 2003, the International Olympic Committee named Vancouver/Whistler as the host city for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Infrastructure development followed, including the expansion of the Sea-to-Sky Highway, the creation of Vancouver Convention Centre West, and the construction of the Canada Line, a rapid transport line connecting the airport with the city’s downtown.

As BC prepared to host the Games, its international reputation continued to grow. Vancouver was voted “Best City in the Americas” by Condé Nast Traveller magazine three years in a row. Kelowna was named “Best Canadian Golf City” by Canada’s largest golf magazine, and BC was named the “Best Golf Destination in North America” by the International Association of Golf Tour Operators. Kamloops, known as Canada’s Tournament City, hosted over 100 sports tournaments that same year, and nearby Sun Peaks Resort was named the “Best Family Resort in North America” by the Great Skiing and Snowboarding Guide in 2008 (PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2009).

By the time the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games took place, over 80 participating countries, 6,000 athletes, and 3 billion viewers put British Columbia on centre stage.

Spotlight On: Destination British Columbia

Destination BC is a Crown corporation founded in November 2012 by the Government of British Columbia. Its mandate includes marketing the province as a tourist destination (at home and around the world), promoting the development and growth of the industry, providing advice and recommendations to the tourism minister on related matters, and enhancing public awareness of tourism and its economic value to British Columbia (Province of British Columbia, 2013b).

Tourism in BC Today

Building on the momentum generated by hosting the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, tourism in BC remains big business. In 2012, the industry generated $13.5 billion in revenue.

The provincial industry is made up of over 18,000 businesses, the majority of which are SMEs (small to medium enterprises), and together they employ approximately 127,300 people (Tourism Industry Association of BC, 2014). It may surprise you to learn that in British Columbia, tourism provides more jobs than high tech, oil and gas, mining, and forestry (Porges, 2014).

Spotlight On: The Tourism Industry Association of BC

Founded in 1993 as the Council of Tourism Associations, today the Tourism Industry Association of BC (TIABC) is a not-for-profit trade association comprising members from private sector tourism businesses, industry associations, and destination marketing organizations (DMOs). Its goal is to ensure the best working environment for a competitive tourism industry. It hosts industry networking events and engages in advocacy efforts as “the voice of the BC tourism industry.” Students are encouraged to join TIABC to take advantage of their connections and receive a discount at numerous industry events. For more information, visit the Tourism Industry Association of BC’s website:

One of the challenges for BC’s tourism industry, it has long been argued, is fragmentation. Back in September 1933, an article in the Victoria Daily Times argued for more coordination across organizations in order to capitalize on what they saw as Canada’s “largest dividend payer” (Dawson, 2004). Today, more than 80 years later, you will often hear BC tourism professionals say the same thing.

On the other hand, some experts believe that the industry is simply a model of diversity, acknowledging that tourism is a compilation of a multitude of businesses, services, organizations, and communities. They see the ways in which these components are working together toward success, rather than focusing on friction between the groups.

Many communities are placing a renewed focus on educating the general public and other businesses about the value of tourism and the ways in which stakeholders work together. The following case study highlights this in more detail:

Take a Closer Look: Tourism Pays in Richmond, BC

The community of Richmond, BC, brings to life the far-reaching positive economic effects of tourism in action. Watch the short video called “Tourism Pays” to see what we mean!:

The entry to a Board Room in the Canadian Tourism College with a small air plane statue outside.
Figure 1.7 Canadian Tourism College

Throughout the rest of this textbook, you’ll have a chance to learn more about the history and current outlook for tourism in BC, with in-depth coverage of some of the triumphs and challenges we’ve faced as an industry. You will also learn about the Canadian and global contexts of the tourism industry’s development.


As we’ve seen in this chapter, tourism is a complex set of industries including accommodation, recreation and entertainment, food and beverage services, transportation, and travel services. It encompasses domestic, inbound, and outbound travel for business, leisure, or other purposes. And because of this large scope, tourism development requires participation from all walks of life, including private business, governmental agencies, educational institutions, communities, and citizens.

Recognizing the diverse nature of the industry and the significant contributions tourism makes toward economic and social value for British Columbians is important. There remains a great deal of work to better educate members of the tourism industry, other sectors, and the public about the ways tourism contributes to our province.

Given this opportunity for greater awareness, it is hoped that students like you will help share this information as you learn more about the sector. So let’s begin our exploration in Chapter 2 with a closer look at a critical sector: transportation.

Key Terms

  • British Columbia Government Travel Bureau (BCGTB): the first recognized provincial government organization responsible for the tourism marketing of British Columbia
  • Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR): a national railway company widely regarded as establishing tourism in Canada and BC in the late 1800s and early 1900s
  • Destination BC: the provincial destination marketing organization (DMO) responsible for tourism marketing and development in BC, formerly known as Tourism BC
  • Destination Canada: the national government Crown corporation responsible for marketing Canada abroad, formerly known as the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC)
  • Destination marketing organization (DMO): also known as a destination management organization; includes national tourism boards, state/provincial tourism offices, and community convention and visitor bureaus
  • Diversity: a term used by some in the industry to describe the makeup of the industry in a positive way; acknowledging that tourism is a diverse compilation of a multitude of businesses, services, organizations, and communities
  • Fragmentation: a phenomenon observed by some industry insiders whereby the tourism industry is unable to work together toward common marketing and lobbying (policy-setting) objectives
  • Hospitality: the accommodations and food and beverage industry groupings
  • North American Industry Classification System (NAICS): a way to group tourism activities based on similarities in business practices, primarily used for statistical analysis
  • Tourism: the business of attracting and serving the needs of people travelling and staying outside their home communities for business and pleasure
  • Tourism Industry Association of BC (TIABC): a membership-based advocacy group formerly known as the Council of Tourism Associations of BC (COTA)
  • Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC): the national industry advocacy group
  • Tourist: someone who travels at least 80 kilometres from his or her home for at least 24 hours, for business or pleasure or other reasons; can be further classified as domestic, inbound, or outbound
  • United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO): UN agency responsible for promoting responsible, sustainable, and universally accessible tourism worldwide


  1. List the three types of tourist and provide an example of each.
  2. What is the UNWTO? Visit its website, and name one recent project or study the organization has undertaken.
  3. List the five industry groups according to the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). Using your  understanding of tourism as an industry, create your own definition and classification of tourism. What did you add? What did you take out? Why?
  4. In 2011, how much money was generated by tourism worldwide? What percentage of this money was collected in Europe? Where was the least amount of money collected?
  5. According to UNEP, what are the four types of negative environmental tourism impact? For each of these, list an example in your own community.
  6. What major transportation developments gave rise to the tourism industry in Canada?
  7. Historically, what percentage of international visitors to Canada are from the United States? Why is this an important issue today?
  8. Name three key events in the history of BC tourism that resonate with you. Why do you find these events of interest?
  9. Watch the video in the “Take a Closer Look” feature on Richmond. Now think about the value of tourism in your community. How might this be communicated to local residents? List two ways you will contribute to communicating the value of tourism this semester. 
  10. Choose one article or document from the reference list below and read it in detail. Report back to the class about what you’ve learned.

Case Study: Tourism – Canada’s Surprise Blind Spot

In a 2014 episode of the Voice of Canadian Business, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s podcast, host Mary Anne Carter sat down with Greg Klassen, the CTC’s president and CEO, and Michele Saran, executive director of Business Events Canada. Their discussion highlighted the reasons Canada is struggling to remain competitive within the sector, and underscores the role and impact Canada’s tourism industry has on the economy.Listen to the 14-minute podcast on tourism in Canada and answer the following questions:

  1. Why are governments around the world starting to invest in tourism infrastructure? What does this mean for the competitive environment for Canada’s tourism product?
  2. How do we compare to the United States as a destination for business travel?
  3. According to Greg, why is the $200 million investment in Brand USA a “double-edged sword” for tourism in Canada? What is beneficial about this? Why does it make things more difficult?
  4. What is the relationship between tourism and people’s understanding of a country’s image?
  5. What ranking is Canada’s brand? What other industries are affected by this brand?
  6. Describe one activity the CTC participates in to sell Canadian tourism product abroad.
  7. Name two “sectors of excellence” for Canada. Why is the CTC focussing their business events sales strategies on these industries?
  8. What does the CTC consider to be the benefits of Vancouver hosting the 2014 and 2015 TED conferences?


Brewster Travel Canada. (2014). About Us – Brewster History. Retrieved from

British Columbia Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training. (2013a).BC Stats: Industry Classification. Retrieved from

British Columbia Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training. (2013b). Bill 3 – 2013: Destination BC Corp Act. Retrieved from

Canadian Geographic. (2000, September). Flying through time: Canadian aviation history. Retrieved from

Canadian Tourism Commission. (2014). About the CTC. Retrieved from

Chaney, Edward. (2000). The evolution of the grand tour: Anglo-Italian cultural relations since the Renaissance. Portland OR: Routledge.

Cox & Kings. (2014). About us – History. Retrieved from

Dawson, Michael. (2004). Selling British Columbia: Tourism and consumer culture, 1890-1970. Vancouver, BC: UBC Press.

Discover Hospitality. (2015). What is hospitality? Retrieved from

e-Know. (2011, November). Ogilvie’s past in lock step with last 50 years of Kimberley’s history. Retrieved from’s-past-in-lock-step-with-last-50-years-of-kimberley’s-history/

Expedia, Inc. (2013). Expedia: Annual report 2013. [PDF] Retrieved from

Flightglobal. (2002). Sixty years of the jet age. Retrieved from

Globe and Mail, The. (2014, March 28). Ten things you don’t know about Air Canada. Retrieved from

Government of Canada. (2006). Building a national tourism strategy. [PDF] Retrieved from$FILE/tourism_e.pdf

Government of Canada. (2013, July 5). Appendix E: Tourism industries in the human resource module. Retrieved from

Griffiths, Ralph, Griffiths, G. E. (1772). Pennant’s tour in Scotland in 1769. The Monthly Review; or, Literary Journal XLVI: 150. Retrieved from Google Books

Gyr, Ueli. (2010, December 3). The history of tourism: Structures on the path to modernity. European History Online (EHO). Retrieved from

Latin definition for hospes, hospitis. (2014).In Latdict – Latin Dictionary and Grammar Resources.  Retrieved from

Library and Archives Canada. (n.d.). Ties that bind: Essay. A brief history of railways in Canada. Retrieved from

LinkBC. (2008). Transforming communities through tourism: A handbook for community tourism champions. [PDF] Retrieved from

MacEachern, A. (2012, August 17). Goin’ down the road: The story of the first cross-Canada car trip. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from

McLeish. (2014, July 23). History of heliskiing in Canada. Retrieved from

Magnes, W. (2010, May 26). The evolution of British Columbia’s tourism regions: 1970-2010 [PDF]. Retrieved from

Porges, R. (2014, September). Tell me something I don’t know: Promoting the value of tourism. Tourism Drives the Provincial Economy. Presentation hosted by the Tourism Industry Association of BC, Vancouver, BC.

PricewaterhouseCooopers, LLC. (2009). Opportunity BC 2020: Tourism sector. [PDF] Prepared for the BC Business Council. Retrieved from

Shoalts, A. (2011, April). How our national parks evolved: From Grey Owl to Chrétien and beyond, 100 years of Parks Canada. Canadian Geographic. Retrieved from

Theobald, William F. (1998). Global Tourism (2nd ed.). Oxford, England: Butterworth–Heinemann, pp. 6-7.

Thomas Cook Group of Companies. (2014). Thomas Cook history. Retrieved from

Tourism Industry Association of BC. (2014). Value of tourism toolkit: Why focus on the value of tourism? Retrieved from

Tourism Industry Association of Canada. (2014, October 14). Travel industry poised to boost Canadian exports: US market and border efficiencies central to growth potential. Retrieved from

Tourism Industry Association of Canada, HLT Advisory. (2012). The Canadian tourism industry: A special report [PDF]. Retrieved from

United Nations and World Tourism Organization. (1995). Recommendations on tourism statistics. [PDF] Retrieved from

United Nations Environment Programme. (2003a). Negatives Socio-cultural impacts from tourism. Retrieved from

United Nations Environment Programme. (2003b). Tourism’s three main impact areas. Retrieved from

United Nations World Tourism Organization. (2008). Understanding tourism: Basic glossary. Retrieved from

United Nations World Tourism Organization. (2012, May 7). International tourism receipts surpass US$ 1 trillion in 2011. Retrieved from

United Nations World Tourism Organization. (2014a). UNWTO world tourism barometer, 12 [PDF] (1). Retrieved from

United Nations World Tourism Organization. (2014b). Who we are. Retrieved from


Figure 1.1 Selkirk College and Nelson by LinkBC is used under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

Figure 1.2 Capilano University’s Team by LinkBC is used under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

Figure 1.3 Vancouver Island University by LinkBC is used under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

Figure 1.4 Canadian Pacific 4-4-0 A-2-m No 136 by Peter Broster is used under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

Figure 1.5 Vancouver Island University by LinkBC is used under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

Figure 1.6 Switzerland vs. Canada by s.yume is used under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

Figure 1.7 CTC’s Boardroom by LinkBC is used under a CC-BY 2.0 license.


Chapter 2. Transportation

Morgan Westcott

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the role of transportation in the tourism industry
  • Recognize milestones in the development of the air industry and explain how profitability is measured in this sector
  • Report on the historic importance of rail travel and challenges to rail operations today
  • Describe water-based transportation segments including cruise travel and passenger ferries
  • Recognize the importance of transportation infrastructure in tourism destinations
  • Specify elements of sightseeing transportation, and explain current issues regarding rental vehicles and taxis
  • Identify and relate industry trends and issues including fuel costs, environmental impacts, and changing weather


The transportation sector is vital to the success of our industry. Put simply, if we can’t move people from place to place — whether by air, sea, or land — we don’t have an industry. This chapter takes a broad approach, covering each segment of the transportation sector globally, nationally, and at home in British Columbia.

Let’s start our review by taking a look at the airline industry.


According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), in 2014, airlines transported 3.3 billion people across a network of almost 50,000 routes generating 58 million jobs and $2.4 trillion in business activity (International Air Transport Association, 2014a).

Spotlight On: International Air Transport Association

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is the trade association for the world’s airlines, representing around 240 airlines or 84% of total air traffic. It supports many areas of aviation activity and helps formulate industry policy on critical aviation issues (IATA, 2014b). For more information, visit the International Air Transport Association website:

The first commercial (paid) passenger flight took place in Florida on New Year’s Day 1914 as a single person was transported across Tampa Bay (IATA 2014a). There have been a number of international aviation milestones since that flight, as illustrated in Table 2.1.

Table 2.1: Milestones in the commercial aviation industry.
[Skip Table]
Year Milestone
1919 KLM Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij or Royal Dutch Airlines) starts operations, making it the oldest airline still in operation.
1930 Boeing Air Transport (now known as United) introduces the first flight attendant.
1934 The first piece of airmail travels across the Atlantic via Deutsche Luft Hansa (now Lufthansa).
1939 The first passenger flight travels across the Atlantic on Pan American airlines.
1944 The Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation [PDF] takes place, giving rise to the aviation industry as we know it.
1952 The first passengers travel by commercial jet on British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC).
1971 The first low-cost carrier is introduced as Southwest Airlines enters the market.
1976 The Concorde enters service as the first supersonic aircraft.
1978 The United States deregulates the air industry.
1981 American Airlines introduces the first frequent flyer program.
2007 Singapore Airlines introduces passenger service aboard the Airbus A380 (currently the world’s largest passenger aircraft).
2011 KLM operates the first passenger biofuel flights.
Data source: IATA, 2014a

Rules and Regulations

Aviation is a highly regulated industry as it crosses many government jurisdictions. This section explores key airline regulations in more detail.

Open Skies

The contrail from a plane streaks across a blue sky.
Figure 2.1 Open skies

The term open skies refers to policies that allow national airlines to fly to, and above, other countries. These policies lift restrictions where countries have good relationships, freeing up the travel of passengers and goods.

Take a Closer Look: The 1944 Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation

This document contains the original statements from the convention that created the airline industry as we know it, providing a preamble statement as well as detailed articles pertaining to a range of issues from cabotage to pilotless aircraft. Read the 1944 Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation [PDF]:

Canada’s approach to open skies is the Blue Sky Policy, first implemented in 2006. The National Airlines Council of Canada (NACC) and Canadian Airports Council (CAC) support the Blue Sky Policy.

While opening up air transport agreements (ATAs) with other jurisdictions is important, the Canadian government doesn’t provide blanket arrangements, instead negotiating “when it is in Canada’s overall interest to do so” (Government of Canada, 2014a). Some suggest the government should be more liberal with air access so more competitors can enter the market, potentially attracting more visitors to the country (Gill and Raynor, 2003).

Taxes and Fees

According to a 2012 Senate study on issues related to the Canadian airline industry, Canadian travellers are being grounded by airline fees, fuel surcharges, security taxes, airport improvement fees, and other additional costs. Airports are charged rental fees by the Canadian government ($4.8 billion from 1992 to 2004), which they pass on to the airlines, who in turn transfer the costs to travellers. Some think eliminating rental fees would make Canadian airports more competitive, and view rental and other fees as the reason 5 million Canadians went south of the border for flights in 2013, where passenger fees are 230% lower than in Canada (Hermiston and Steele, 2014).


Running an airline is like having a baby: fun to conceive, but hell to deliver. – C. E. Woolman, principal founder of Delta Air Lines (The Economist, 2011).

As the quote above suggests, airlines are faced with many challenges. In addition to operating in a strict regulatory environment, airlines yield extremely small profit margins. In 2013 the industry accumulated $10.6 billion worldwide in revenues, although global profit margins were just 1.5% (IATA, 2014a). To put that into perspective, while the average airline earned 1.5%, Apple’s profit margins were almost 14 times that at 20.15% (YCharts, 2014).

Passenger Load Factor

Key to airline profitability is passenger load factor, which relates how efficiently planes are being used. Load factor for a single flight can be determined by dividing the number of passengers by the number of seats.

A two-decker plane picks up speed on a runway.
Figure 2.2 An Airbus 380-800 takes off

Passenger load factors in the airline industry reached a record high in 2013, at just under 80%, which was attributed to increased volumes and strong capacity management in key sectors (IATA, 2104a). One way of increasing capacity is by using larger aircraft. For instance, the introduction of the Airbus A380 model has allowed up to 40% more capacity per flight, carrying up to 525 passengers in a three-class configuration, and up to 853 in a single-class configuration (Airbus, 2014). 

Low-Cost Carriers

Another key factor in profitability is the airline’s business model. In 1971, Southwest Airlines became the first low-cost carrier (LCC), revolutionizing the industry. The LCC model involved charging for all extras such as reserved seating, baggage, and on-board service, and cutting costs by offering less legroom and using non-unionized workforces. Typically, an LCC has to run with 90% full planes to break even (Owram, 2014). The high-volume, lower-service system is what we have become used to today, but at the time it was introduced, it was groundbreaking.

Ancillary Revenues

The LCC model, combined with tight margins, led to today’s climate where passengers are charged for value-added services such as meals, headsets, blankets, seat selection, and bag checking. These are known in the industry as ancillary revenues. Profits from these extras rose from $36 billion in 2012 to $42 billion in 2013, or more than $13 a passenger. An average net profit of only $3.39 per passenger was retained by airlines (IATA, 2014a).

As you can see, airlines must strive to maintain profitability, despite thin margins, in an environment with heavy government regulation. But at the same time, they must be responsible for the safety of their passengers.

Air Safety and Security

IATA encourages airlines to view safety from a number of points, including reducing operational risks such as plane crashes, by running safety audit programs. They also advocate for improved infrastructure such as runway upgrades and training for pilots and other crew. Finally, they strive to understand emerging safety issues, including the outsourcing of operations to third-party companies (IATA, 2014a).

In terms of security, coordination between programs such as the Interpol Stolen and Lost Travel Documents initiative and other databases is critical (IATA, 2014a). As reservations and management systems become increasingly computerized, cyber-security becomes a top concern for airlines, who must protect IT (information technology) because their databases contain information about flights and passengers’ personal information. Unruly passengers are also a cause of concern, with over 8,000 incidents reported worldwide every year (IATA, 2014a).

Now that we have a better sense of the complexities of the industry, let’s take a closer look at air travel in Canada and the regional air industry.

Canada’s Air Industry

Figure 2.3 An Air Canada Jazz plane readies for takeoff

In 1937, Trans-Canada Air Lines (later to become Air Canada) was launched with two passenger planes and one mail plane. By the 1950s, Canadian Pacific Airlines (CP Air) entered the marketplace, and an economic boom led to more affordable tickets. Around this time CP Air (which became Canadian Airlines in 1987) launched flights to Australia, Japan, and South America (Canadian Geographic, 2000). In 2001, Canadian Airlines International was acquired by Air Canada (Aviation Safety Network, 2012).

In 1996, the marketplace changed drastically with the entry of an Alberta-based LCC called WestJet.  By 2014, WestJet had grown to become Canada’s second major airline with more than 9,700 staff flying to 88 destinations across domestic and international networks (WestJet, 2014).

As it grew, WestJet began to offer services such as premium economy class and a frequent-flyer program, launched a regional carrier, and introduced transatlantic flights with service to Dublin, Ireland, evolving away from the LCC model (Owram, 2014). With those changes, and in the absence of  a true low-cost carrier, in 2014, some other companies, such as Canada Jetlines and JetNaked, sought to raise upward of $50 million to bring their airlines to market.

However, outside of Air Canada and WestJet, airlines in Canada have found it very challenging to survive, and some examples of LCC startups like Harmony Airways and Jetsgo have fallen by the wayside.

Challenges to Canada’s Air Industry

When looking at these failed airlines in Canada, three key challenges to success can be identified (Owram, 2014):

  1. Canada’s large geographical size and sparse population mean relatively low demand for flights.
  2. Canada’s higher taxes and fees compared with other jurisdictions (such as the United States) make pricing less competitive.
  3. Canada’s two dominant airlines are able to price new entrants out of the market.

In addition to these factors, the European debt crisis, a slow US economic recovery, more cautious spending by Canadians, and fuel price increases led to a $900 million industry loss in 2011 (Conference Board of Canada, 2012) prior to the industry returning to profitability in 2013.

Take a Closer Look: One Size Doesn’t Fit All

In 2013, a special report to the Canadian Senate explored the concept that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to competitiveness in the country’s airline industry. The report contains general observations about the industry as well as a number of recommendations to stakeholders, including airport managers. Read the report: “One Size Doesn’t Fit All: the Future Growth and Competitiveness of Canadian Air Travel” [PDF]:

Today, the Canadian airline industry directly employs roughly 141,000 people and is worth $34.9 billion in gross domestic product. It supports 330 jobs for every 100,000 passengers and contributes over $12 billion to federal and provincial treasuries, including over $7 billion in taxes (Gill and Raynor, 2013).

Let’s now turn our attention to the regional air market, focusing on British Columbia.

Regional Airlines

Transportation in BC has always been difficult: incomplete road systems and rugged terrain historically made travel between communities almost impossible. In 1927, a number of businessmen promised to change all that when they opened British Columbia Airways in Victoria with the purchase of a commercial airliner (Canadian Museum of Flight, 2014).

As commercial flying became more popular, and the province grew, regional airports started to spring up around BC as a means of delivering surveying equipment, forestry supplies, and workers. Many of these airports were legacies of Canada’s strategic position for the military. Fort Nelson’s airport, for instance, was established so the US Air Force could fuel aircraft bound for Russia in World War II (Northern Rockies Regional Airport, 2014).

In 1994, Transport Canada transferred all 150 airports under its control to local authorities under the National Airports Policy (NAP). This policy is considered to have been a turning point in the privatization of the airline industry in Canada. A 2004 study showed that after 10 years, 48% of these airports were not able to cover annual costs of operation, leading to concerns about the viability of small local airports in particular (InterVISTAS, 2005).

In 2012, the BC government released its aviation strategy, entitled Connecting with the World, which acknowledged the economic challenges for airports large and small. These range from Vancouver International Airport (YVR), which supports more than 61,000 jobs and creates more than $11 billion in economic activity each year, through to regional and local airports. The strategy outlined a framework to remove barriers to aviation growth including potentially eliminating the two-cent-per-litre International Aviation Fuel Tax (British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, 2012).

Given a highly complex regulatory environment, razor-thin profit margins, and intense competition, the airline industry is constantly changing and evolving at global, national, and regional levels. But one thing is certain: air travel is here to stay.

On the other hand, the rail industry has been faced with significant declines since air travel became accessible to the masses. Let’s learn more about this sector.


Figure 2.4 CPR Mount Steven House in Field, BC (1909)

In Chapter 1, we looked at the historic significance of railways as they laid the foundation for the modern tourism industry. That’s because in many places, including Canada and British Columbia, trains were an unprecedented way to move people across vast expanses of land. With the Canadian Pacific company opening up hotels in major cities, BC’s hospitality sector was born and a golden age of rail travel emerged.


However, starting in the 1940s and 1950s, the passenger rail industry began to decline sharply. In 1945, Canadian railways carried 55.4 million passengers, but just 10 years later passenger traffic had dropped to 27.2 million. The creation of VIA Rail in 1977 as a Canadian Crown corporation was an attempt by the government to ensure rail travel did not disappear, but in the years since its founding VIA has struggled, relying heavily on federal subsidies in order to continue operations.

Between 1989 and 1990, VIA lost over 45% of its ridership when it cut unprofitable routes, focusing on areas with better potential for revenue and passenger volumes. From there, annual ridership has stabilized at around 3.5 million to 4.0 million passengers per year, slowly increasing throughout the 1990s and 2000s (Dupuis, 2011).

Despite this slight recovery, there are a number of challenges for passenger rail in Canada, which will likely require continued government support to survive. Three key challenges to a successful passenger rail industry are:

  1. Passenger rail must negotiate with freight for right-of-use of tracks.
  2. There is limited potential of routes (with the highest volume existing in the Quebec-Windsor corridor).
  3. Fixed-cost equipment is aging out, requiring replacement or upgrading.

High-speed rail seems like an attractive option, but would be expensive to construct as existing tracks aren’t suitable for the reasons given above. It’s also unlikely to provide high enough returns to private investors (Dupuis, 2011). This means the Canadian government would have to invest heavily in a rapid rail project for it to proceed. As of 2014, no such investment was planned.

Spotlight On: Rocky Mountaineer Rail Tours

Founded in 1990, Rocky Mountaineer offers three train journeys through BC and Alberta to Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper, and Calgary, and one train excursion from Vancouver to Whistler. In 2013, Rocky Mountaineer introduced Coastal Passage, a new route connecting Seattle to the Canadian Rockies that can be added to any two-day or more rail journey (Rocky Mountaineer, 2014). For more information, please visit the Rocky Mountaineer website:

While the industry overall has been in a decline, touring companies like Rocky Mountaineer have found a financially successful model by shifting the focus from transportation to the sightseeing experience. The company has weathered financial storms by refusing to discount their luxury product, instead focusing on the unique experiences. The long planning cycle for scenic rail packages has helped the company stand their ground in terms of pricing (Cubbon, 2010).

Rail Safety

In Canada, rail safety is governed by the Railway Safety Act, which ensures safe railway operation and amends other laws that relate to rail safety (Government of Canada, 2014b). The Act is overseen by the Minister of Transport. It covers grade crossings, mining and construction near railways, operating certifications, financial penalties for infractions, and safety management.

The Act was revised in late 2014 in response to the massive rail accident in July 2013 in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec. A runaway oil train exploded, killing 47 people, and subsequently MM&A Railway and three employees, including the train’s engineer, were charged with criminal negligence (CBC News, 2014).

In addition to freight management issues, a key rail safety concern is that of crossings. As recently as April 2014, Transport Canada had to issue orders for improved safety measures at crossings in suburban Ottawa after a signal malfunctioned in the area (CTV News, 2014a). According to Operation Lifesaver Canada (2014), in 2011, there were 169 crossing collisions across Canada, with 25 fatalities and 21 serious injuries. In general, however, Canada’s 73,000 kilometres of railway tracks safely transport both people and goods. And while railways in Canada, and elsewhere, are being forced to innovate, companies like Rocky Mountaineer (see Spotlight On above) give the industry glimmers of hope.

The rail industry shares some common history with the cruise sector. Let’s now turn our focus to the water and learn about the evolution of travel on the high seas.


Figure 2.5 A cruise ship at sunset at Ogden Point, Victoria

Travel by water is as old as civilization itself. However, the industry as we know it began when Thomas Newcomen invented the steam engine in 1712. The first crossing of the Atlantic by steam engine took place in 1819 aboard the SS Savannah, landing in Liverpool, England, after 29 days at sea. Forty years later, White Star Lines began building ocean liners including the Olympic-class ships (the Olympic, Britannic, and Titanic), expanding on previously utilitarian models by adding luxurious amenities (Briggs, 2008).

A boom in passenger ship travel toward the end of the 1800s was aided by a growing influx of immigrants from Europe to America, while more affluent passengers travelled by steamship for pleasure or business. The industry grew over time but, like rail travel, began to decline after the arrival of airlines. Shipping companies were forced to change their business model from pure transportation to “an experience,” and the modern cruise industry was born.

The Cruise Sector

We’ve come a long way since the Olympic class of steamship. Today, the world’s largest cruise ship, MS Oasis of the Seas, has an outdoor park with 12,000 plants, an 82-foot zip wire, and a high-diving performance venue. It’s 20 storeys tall and can hold 5,400 passengers and a crew of up to 2,394 (Magrath, 2014). A crew on a cruise ship will include the captain, the chief officer (in charge of training and maintenance), staff captain, chief engineer, chief medical officer, and chief radio officer (communication, radar, and weather monitoring).

Spotlight On: Cruise Lines International Association

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) is the world’s largest cruise industry trade association with representation in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Australasia. CLIA represents the interests of cruise lines and travel agents in the development of policy. CLIA is also engaged in travel agent training, research, and marketing communications (CLIA, 2014). For more information on CLIA, the cruise industry, and member cruise lines and travel agencies, visit the Cruise Lines International Association website:

Cruising the World

According to CLIA, 21.7 million passengers were expected to travel worldwide on 63 member lines in 2014. Given increased demand, 24 new ships were expected in 2014-15, adding a total capacity of over 37,000 passengers.

Over 55% of the world’s cruise passengers are from North America, and the leading destinations (based on ship deployments), according to CLIA, are:

  • The Caribbean (37%)
  • The Mediterranean (19%)
  • Northern Europe (11%)
  • Australia/New Zealand (6%)
  • Alaska (5%)
  • Asia (4%)
  • South America (3%)

River Cruising

While mass cruises to destinations like the Caribbean remain incredibly popular, river cruises are emerging as another strong segment of the industry. The key differences between river cruises and ocean cruises are (Hill, 2013):

  1. River cruise ships are smaller (400 feet long by 40 feet wide on average) and can navigate narrow passages.
  2. River cruises carry fewer passengers (about 10% of the average cruise, or 200 passengers total).
  3. Beer, wine, and high-end cuisine are generally offered in the standard package.

The price point for river cruises is around the same as ocean trips, with the typical cost ranging from $2,000 to $4,000, depending on the itinerary, accommodations, and other amenities.

From 2008 to 2013, river cruises saw a 10% annual passenger increase. Europe leads the subcategory, while emerging destinations include a cruise route along China’s Yangtze River. As the on-board experience differs greatly from a larger cruise (no play areas, water parks, or on-board stage productions), the target demographic for river cruises is 50- to 70-year-olds. According to Torstein Hagen, founder and chairman of Viking, an international river cruising company, “with river cruises, a destination is the destination,” although many river cruises are themed around cultural or historical events (Hill, 2013).

Figure 2.6 Uniworld River Cruises River Beatrice in Passau, Germany

Cruising in Canada

According to a study completed for the North West & Canada Cruise Association (NWCCA) and its partners, in 2012, approximately 1,100 cruise ship calls were made at Canadian cruise ports generating slightly more than 2 million passenger arrivals throughout the six-month cruise season (BREA, 2013). The study found three key cruise itineraries in Canada:

  1. Canada/New England
  2. Quebec (between Montreal and Quebec City and US ports)
  3. Alaska (either departing from, or using, Vancouver or another BC city as a port of call)

These generated $1.16 billion in direct spending. Cruising also generated almost 10,000 full- and part-time jobs paying $397 million in wages and salaries. The international cruise industry also generated an estimated $269 million in indirect business and income taxes in Canada, and the majority of this spending was in British Columbia (BREA, 2013).

Cruising BC

BC’s rail history and cruise history are intertwined. As early as 1887, Canadian Pacific Railway began offering steamship passage to destinations such as Hawaii, Shanghai, Alaska, and Seattle. Ninety-nine years later, Vancouver’s Canada Place was built, with its cruise ship terminals, allowing the province to attract large ships and capture its share of the growing international cruise industry (Cruise BC, 2014).

Spotlight On: Cruise BC

Cruise BC is a partnership between BC port destinations designed to provide a vehicle for cooperative marketing and development of BC’s cruise sector. Their vision is that the West Coast and British Columbia’s coastal communities are recognized and sought out globally by cruise lines and passengers as a destination of choice. For more information, visit the Cruise BC website:

This potential continues to grow as Nanaimo, Prince Rupert, Victoria, and Vancouver accounted for 57% of the Canadian cruise passenger traffic with 1.18 million passengers in 2012 (BREA, 2013).

Cruising isn’t the only way for visitors to experience the waters of BC. In fact, the vast majority of our water travel is done by ferry. Let’s take a closer look at this vital component of BC’s transportation infrastructure.


Ferry service in British Columbia dates back to the mid-1800s when the Hudson’s Bay Company ran ships between Vancouver Island and the Mainland. Later, CP Rail and Black Ball ferries ran a private service, until 1958 when Premier W.A.C. Bennett announced the BC Ferry Authority would consolidate the ferries under a provincial mandate.

Figure 2.7 BC ferry:  Spirit of Vancouver Island

The MV Tsawwassen and the MV Sidney began regular service on June 15, 1960, and BC Ferries was officially launched with two terminals and around 200 employees. Today, there are 35 vessels, 47 destinations, and up to 4,700 employees in the summer peak season (BC Ferries, 2014).

BC isn’t the only destination where ferries make up part of the transportation experience. In 2011, Travel + Leisure Magazine profiled several notable ferry journeys in the article, “World’s Most Beautiful Ferry Rides” including:

  • An 800-mile ferry voyage through Chile’s Patagonian fjords
  • A three-mile trip from the Egyptian Spice Market to Istanbul, Turkey
  • Urban ferry rides including Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour, Australia’s Sydney Harbour, and New York City’s Staten Island Ferry

The article also featured the 15-hour trip from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert on British Columbia’s coast (Orcutt, 2011).

While cruising is often a pleasant and relaxing experience, there are a number of safety concerns for vessels of all types.

Cruise and Ferry Safety

One of the major concerns on cruise lines is disease outbreak, specifically the norovirus (a stomach flu), which can spread quickly on cruise ships as passengers are so close together. The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) vessel sanitation program ( is designed to help the industry prevent and control the outset, and spreading, of these types of illnesses (Briggs, 2008).

Accidents are also a concern. In 2006, the BC Ferries vessel MV Queen of the North crashed and sank in the Inside Passage, leaving two passengers missing and presumed dead. The ship’s navigating officer was charged with criminal negligence causing their deaths (Keller, 2013). More recently, a “hard landing” at Duke Point terminal on Vancouver Island caused over $4 million in damage. BC Ferries launched a suit against a German engineering firm in late 2013, alleging a piece of equipment failed, making a smooth docking impossible. The Transportation Safety Board found that staff aboard the ship didn’t follow proper docking procedures, however, which contributed to the crash (Canadian Press, 2013).

Spotlight On: The Transportation Safety Board  

The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) investigates marine, pipeline, rail, and air incidents. It is an independent agency that reviews an average of 3,200 events every year. It does not determine liability; however, coroners and medical examiners may use TSB findings in their investigations. The head office in Quebec manages 220 staff across the country. For more information, visit the Transportation Safety Board website:

We’ve covered the skies, the rails, and the seas. Now let’s round out our investigation of transportation in tourism by delving into travel on land.


While much of this text has placed significance on the emergence of the railways as critical to the development of our industry, BC’s roadways have also played an integral role. Our roads have evolved from First Nations trails, to Fur Trade and Gold Rush routes, to Wagon Roads and Trunk Roads — finally becoming the highway system we know today (British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Highways, n.d.).

Take a Closer Look: Frontier to Freeway: A Short Illustrated History of the Roads in British Columbia

This short book, available as a PDF, provides an overview of the integral importance of BC’s evolving roadways in our transportation sector. Read this book: Frontier to Freeway: A Short Illustrated History of the Roads in British Columbia [PDF]:

Today, land-based travel is achieved through a complex web of local transit, taxis, rentals, walking, and short-term sightseeing. This section briefly explores these options.

Scenic and Sightseeing Travel

It’s common for visitors to want to explore a community and appreciate the sights. We’ve already learned a little about the rail-based sightseeing company, Rocky Mountaineer. Many destinations also offer short-term, hop-on-hop-off bus and trolley tours. Others feature trams and trolleys. Outside of impromptu excursions, sightseeing tours are often put together by inbound tour operators. You can learn more about tour operators, and the sightseeing sector, in Chapter 7.

Transit and Destination Infrastructure

Vancouver’s Tourism Master Plan acknowledges the importance of transportation infrastructure to the tourism industry. Priorities for future development by the city include (Tourism Vancouver, 2013):

  • Improving accessibility for people with disabilities
  • Creating a transit loop between downtown attractions
  • Supporting ferries in False Creek
  • Providing late-night transit
  • Investigating and implementing a public bike share
  • Developing more transit options along the Broadway corridor
  • Working with taxi companies to explore a strategic plan for taxi operations
  • Enhancing walkability by implementing recommendations from the Pedestrian Safety Study and Action Plan

These action items were developed in consultation with industry stakeholders as well as residents, and reflect the interrelated elements that make up a destination’s transportation infrastructure.

Rentals and Taxis

Figure 2.8 A Lincoln Town Car (rental) in San Fransisco

Today, when travellers aren’t using their own cars, automobile travel is traditionally split between rental vehicles and taxis (including limousines).


In North America, there are three main brands that represent approximately 85% of the rental car business: Enterprise (includes National and Alamo), Hertz (includes Dollar and Thrifty), and Avis. One of the reasons that brands have consolidated over time is the high fixed cost of operation as vehicles are purchased, maintained, and disposed of. Fierce competition means prices are checked and updated thousands of times a day. The business is also highly seasonal, with high traffic in summer and spring, and so fleet management is critical for profitability. Rental companies tend to use enplanements (the numbers of passengers travelling by air), as a measurement of market trends that influence rental usage (DBRS, 2010).


In BC, taxi licences are issued by the BC Passenger Transportation Board. In Vancouver, the right to operate a taxi is based on a permit system, and each permit costs the original holder $100. But because of the limited number of permits available, those who hold one are able to auction it off for over $800,000 and keep the profit. As a result, passengers in Vancouver paid an average of 73% more for the equivalent trip in Washington, D.C. Drivers from  areas outside the city depositing passengers in Vancouver are also not permitted to pick up fares on the return trip, having to drive across their boundaries (Proctor, 2014).

Ridesharing apps like Uber, which allow people to find a ride using their mobile phone, have emerged to exert influence on car travel in key destinations. In San Francisco, these apps have rapidly undercut the taxi industry: according to the city’s transit authority, per month, trips by taxi have plummeted from 1,424 in 2012 to 504 in 2014, even though taxi operators maintain a monopoly over rides from the airport (Kuittinen, 2014). In New York City, however, the price of medallions (similar to Vancouver’s taxi permits) continues to hover above $950,000. In large markets like Manhattan, passengers continue to hail cabs on the street in the moment, with e-hails (electronic taxi hails) at 0.17% of the market (Brustein & Winter, 2014). The City of Vancouver opted to force Uber to roll back after its initial release, and in 2014 placed the app on a six-month moratorium after pressure from taxi operators who cited threats to the values of their licences as well as safety and monitoring concerns (CTV News, 2014b).

As this and other examples illustrate, the transportation sector is vulnerable to regulatory, technological, operational, and business trends. Let’s look at these in more detail.

Trends and Issues

This section explores issues directly relating to transportation today including fuel cost, labour, and environmental impacts. For more information on one of the biggest trends in tourism, online travel agencies (OTAs), and how online bookings impact the transportation sector, please see Chapter 7.

Fuel Cost

When it comes to moving people, fuel cost is critical. The cost of jet fuel is one of the single highest factors in airline profitability. In 2013, the average cost was around $125 per barrel, which was $5 less than the previous year (IATA, 2014a). Cruise ships consume a lower grade of diesel than do land vehicles, but they consume a lot of it. The QE2, for example, consumes roughly 380 tonnes of fuel every day if travelling at 28.5 knots (Briggs, 2008).


As in all tourism-related sectors, cyclical labour shortages can significantly impact the transportation industry. In the aviation sector, a forecast found that by 2032 the world’s airlines will need 460,000 additional pilots and 650,000 new maintenance technicians to service current and future aircraft. The drive to find employees also extends to the maritime sector, where the International Maritime Organization (IMO) launched a “Go to sea!” campaign to attract more workers to the field (PWC, 2012).

Environmental Impacts

In addition to fuel and labour costs, and regulations we’ve covered already, the transportation sector has a significant impact on the natural environment.

Air Impacts

According to the David Suzuki Foundation (2014), the aviation industry is responsible for 4% to 9% of climate change impacts, and greenhouse gas emissions from flights have risen 83% since 1990. Airline travel has a greater emissions impact than driving or taking the train per passenger kilometre, which caused a bishop in the UK to famously declare that “Making selfish choices such as flying on holiday [is] a symptom of sin” (Barrow, 2006).

Rail Impacts

Rail travel is widely regarded as one of the most environmentally friendly modes of transportation due to its low carbon dioxide emissions. Railways come under fire outside of the tourism realm, however, as freight shipping can produce hazards to resident health including an increased risk of developing cancer and noise pollution (The Impact Project, 2012).

Cruise Impacts

Cruise ships can generate significant pollution from black water (containing human waste), grey water (runoff from showers, dishwashers, sinks), bilge water (from the lowest compartment of the ship), solid waste (trash), and chemical waste (cleaners, solvents, oil). One ship can create almost a million litres of grey water, over 113,000 litres of black water, and over 140,000 litres of bilge water every day. Depending on the regulations in the operating areas, ships can simply dump this waste directly into the ocean. Ballast tanks, filled to keep the ship afloat, can be contaminated with species which are then transported to other areas, disrupting sensitive ecosystems (Briggs, 2008).

Land Impacts

A recent study found that the impact of travel on land is highly dependent on the number of passengers. Whereas travelling alone in a large SUV can have high emissions per person (as high as flying), increasing the number of passengers, and using a smaller vehicle, can bring the impact down to that of train travel (Science Daily, 2013).

For more information on the environmental impacts of the transportation sector, and how to mitigate these, read Chapter 10.


As you’ve learned, the transportation sector can have an effect on climate change, and changes in weather have a strong effect on transportation. According to Natural Resources Canada (2013), some of these include:

  • More drastic freeze-thaw cycles, destroying pavement and causing ruts in asphalt
  • Increased precipitation causing landslides, washing out roads, and derailing trains
  • Effects and costs of additional de-icing chemicals deployed on aircraft and runways (over 50 million litres were used worldwide in 2013)
  • Delayed flights and sailings due to increased storm activity
  • Millions of dollars of infrastructure upgrades required as sea levels increase and flood structures (replacing or relocating bridges, tunnels, ports, docks, dykes, helipads and airports)

The threat of climate change could significantly impact sea-level airports such as YVR, and some 50 additional registered airports across Canada that sit at five metres or less above sea level (Natural Resources Canada, 2013).

For this reason, it’s important that the sector continue to press for innovations and greener transportation choices, if only to ensure future financial costs are kept at bay.

An air plane on a wet runway with lightning in the background.
Figure 2.9 A flight is grounded for seven hours at Baltimore Airport due to severe weather


Tourism, freight, and resource industries such as forestry and mining sometimes compete for highways, waterways, and airways.  It’s important for governments to engage with various stakeholders and attempt to juggle various economic priorities — and for tourism to be at the table during these discussions.

That’s why in 2015 the BC Ministry of Transportation released its 10-year plan, BC on the Move. Groups like the Tourism Industry Association of BC actively polled their members in order to have their concerns incorporated into the plan. These included highway signage and wayfaring, the future of BC Ferries, and urban infrastructure improvements.

You can view the plan by visiting

This chapter has taken a brief look at one of the most complex, and vital, components of our industry. Chapter 3 covers accommodations and is just as essential.

Key Terms

  • Ancillary revenues: money earned on non-essential components of the transportation experience including headsets, blankets, and meals
  • Blue Sky Policy: Canada’s approach to open skies agreements that govern which countries’ airlines are allowed to fly to, and from, Canadian destinations
  • Cruise BC: a multi-stakeholder organization responsible for the development and marketing of British Columbia as a cruise destination
  • Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA): the world’s largest cruise industry trade association with representation in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Australasia
  • International Air Transport Association (IATA): the trade association for the world’s airlines
  • Low-cost carrier (LCC): an airline that competes on price, cutting amenities and striving for volume to achieve a profit
  • National Airports Policy (NAP): the 1994 policy that saw transfer of 150 airports from federal control to communities and other local agencies, essentially deregulating the industry
  • Open skies: a set of policies that enable commercial airlines to fly in and out of other countries
  • Passenger load factor: a way of measuring how efficiently a transportation company uses its vehicles on any given day, calculated for a single flight by dividing the number of passengers by the number of seats
  • Railway Safety Act: a 1985 Act to ensure the safe operation of railways in Canada
  • Ridesharing apps: applications for mobile devices that allow users to share rides with strangers, undercutting the taxi industry
  • Transportation Safety Board (TSB): the national independent agency that investigates an average of 3,200 transportation safety incidents across the country every year


  1. When did the first paid air passenger take flight? What would you say have been the three biggest milestones in commercial aviation since that date?
  2. If a flight with 500 available seats carries 300 passengers, what is the passenger load factor?
  3. Why is it difficult for new airlines to take off in Canada?
  4. How did some of BC’s regional airports come into existence? What are some of the challenges they face today?
  5. How much economic activity is generated by YVR every year?
  6. What are the key differences between river cruises and ocean cruises? Who are the target markets for these cruises?
  7. Which cities attract more than 50% of the cruise traffic in Canada?
  8. What are the priorities for transportation infrastructure development as outlined in Vancouver’s Tourism Master Plan? What other transportation components would you include in your community’s tourism plan?
  9. What are some of the environmental impacts of the transportation sector? Name three. How might these be lessened?

Case Study: Air North

Founded in 1977 by Joseph Sparling and Tom Wood, Air North is a regional airline providing passenger and cargo service between Yukon and destinations including BC, Alberta, and Alaska. In 2012, Air North surpassed one million passengers carried. Employing over 200 people, the airline is owned in significant part by the Vuntut Development Corporation, the economic arm of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation (VGFN). In fact, one in 15 Yukoners owns a stake in the airline (Air North, 2015).

The ownership model has meant that economic returns are not always the priority for shareholders. As stated on its website, “the maximization of profit is not the number one priority,” as air service is a “lifeline” to the VGFN community. For this reason, service and pricing of flights is extremely important, as are employment opportunities. 

Visit the corporate information portion of the Air North website and answer the following questions:

  1. What is the number one priority of Air North? How is the company structured to ensure it can meet its goals in this area?
  2. What does Air North consider to be its competitive advantage? How does this differ from other airlines?
  3. Describe the investment portfolio of the Vuntut Development Corporation. What types of companies does it own? Why might they have selected these types of initiatives?
  4. List at least three groups that have a stake in the airline. What are their interests? Where do their interests line up, and where do they compete?
  5. In your opinion, would this regional airline model work in your community? Why or why not?


Air North. (2015). Corporate information. Retrieved from

Airbus. (2014). A380: Boost your profitability. Retrieved from

Aviation Safety Network. (2012, March 4). Canadian Airlines International. Retrieved from

Barrow, Becky. (2006, July 23). Flying on holiday ‘a sin’, says bishop. Daily Mail Online. Retrieved from

BC Ferries. (2014, June 17). BC Ferries proudly celebrates 50 sears of Service. Retrieved from

BREA. (2013, March). The economic contribution of the international cruise industry in Canada 2012. Prepared for: North West & Canada Cruise Association, St. Lawrence Cruise Association, Atlantic Canada Cruise Association, Cruise BC. Exton, PA: Business Research & Economic Advisors, p. 1-5.

Briggs, Josh.  (2008, May 1). How cruise ships work. Retrieved from

British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Highways. (n.d.). Frontier to freeway: A short illustrated history of the roads in British Columbia. [PDF] Retrieved from

British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. (2012). Connecting with the world: An aviation strategy for British Columbia [PDF]. Retrieved from

Brustein, Joshua and Caroline Winter. (2014, February 28). If Uber is killing taxis, what explains the million-dollar medallions. Business Week. Retrieved from

Canadian Geographic. (September/October 2000). Canadian aviation history. Retrieved from

Canadian Museum of Flight. (2014). The history of flight in BC. Retrieved from

Canadian Press. (2013, December 12). BC Ferries crash lawsuit targets electronics firm. Huffpost British Columbia. Retrieved from

CBC News. (2014, May 12.) MM&A Railway faces charges in Lac-Megantic disaster – Montreal – CBC News. Retrieved fromégantic-disaster-1.2640654

CLIA. (2014, January 16). The state of the cruise industry in 2014: Global growth in passenger numbers and product offerings. Retrieved from

Conference Board of Canada. (2012, September 13). Canada’s airlines hoping to return to the black in 2013. Retrieved from

Cruise BC. (2014). Cruise BC, Canada – Cruise executives. Retrieved from

CTV News. (2014a). Feds order Via Rail to address ‘safety’ issues at 6 Ottawa railway crossings. Retrieved from

CTV News. (2014b, October 1). Vancouver delays Uber, new cabs for six months. Retrieved from

Cubbon, Paul. (2010, October 22). Rocky economy can’t derail train company. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from

David Suzuki Foundation. (2014). Air travel and climate change. Retrieved from

DBRS. (2010, May). Rating Canadian rental car securitizations. Retrieved from

Dupuis, Jean. (2011, November 16). VIA Rail Canada Inc. and the future of passenger rail in Canada. Ottawa, ON: Library of Parliament. Retrieved from

Economist, The. (2011, December 22). Business quotations: Our favourite air lines. Retrieved from

Gill, Vijay and R. Neil Raynor. (2013, September). Growing Canada’s economy: A new national air transportation policy. Ottawa, ON: Conference Board of Canada, p. i -4. 

Government of Canada. (2014a, June 5). The Blue Sky Policy: Made in Canada, for Canada – Transport Canada. Retrieved from

Government of Canada. (2014b, September 3). Railway Safety Act (1985, c. 32 (4th Supp.)) – Transport Canada. Retrieved from

Hermiston, Sandra and Lynda Steele (2014, August 5). Why it costs so much more to fly in Canada. CTV Vancouver News. Retrieved from

Hill, Catey. (2013, February 1). What’s behind the river-cruise boom. Marketwatch. Retrieved from

IATA. (2014a, June). IATA annual review 2014. Retrieved from

IATA. (2014b). IATA-About us. Retrieved from

Impact Project. (2012, January 20). Tracking harm: Health and environmental impacts of rail yards. The Impact Project Policy Brief Series. [PDF] Retrieved from

InterVISTAS. (2005, April). BC regional airports: A policy guide to viability. [PDF] Prepared for AIM/Council of Tourism Associations, Vancouver, BC. Retrieved from

Keller, James. (2013, April 22). Karl Lilgert, Queen of the North officer, explains how ferry crashed. Huffpost British Columbia. Retrieved from

Kuittinen, Tero. (2014, September 19). Mobile apps are absolutely murdering San Francisco’s taxi industry. BGR. Retrieved from

Magrath, A. (2014, October 15). Longer than the shard and wider than a Boeing 747 wingspan: The world’s largest cruise ship sails into the UK for the first time. Mail Online. Retrieved from

Natural Resources Canada. (2013, May 15). Impacts on transportation infrastructure. Retrieved from

Northern Rockies Regional Airport. (2014). History. Retrieved from

Operation Lifesaver Canada. (2014). Train safety FAQ. Retrieved from

Orcutt, April. (2011, November). World’s most beautiful rerry Rides.” Travel + Leisure. Retrieved from

Owram, Kristine. (2014, July 5). Unfriendly skies await proposed low-cost airlines Canada jetlines, jet naked. The Financial Post. Retrieved from

Proctor, Benn. (2014, June 3). Opinion: Time to reform Vancouver’s antiquated taxi industry. The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved from

PWC. (2012). Transportation & Logistics 2030, volume 5: Winning the talent race. [PDF] Retrieved from

Rocky Mountaineer. (2014). Canadian train travel, trips, rail journeys, vacations, holidays. Rocky Mountaineer. Retrieved from

Science Daily. (2013, June 17). Planes, trains, or automobiles: Travel choices for a smaller carbon footprint. Retrieved from

Tourism Vancouver. (2013, June). Vancouver Tourism master plan. [PDF] Retrieved from

WestJet. (2014). About WestJet. Retrieved from

YCharts. (2014, September). Apple Profit Margin (Quarterly). Retrieved from


Figure 2.1 Sky Jet by Jez is used under a CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

Figure 2.2 Airbus 380-800 by Ponte112 is used under a CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.

Figure 2.3 airplane 036 by MamaMia05 is used under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

Figure 2.4 C.P.R. Mount Stephen House, Field, BC, 1909 by Musee McCord Museum has No known copyright restrictions.

Figure 2.5 Sunset Cruise by Evan Leeson is used under a CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.

Figure 2.6 Uniworld River Cruises River Beatrice in Passau Germany by Gary Bembridge is used under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

Figure 2.7  BC Ferry by David Lewis is used under a CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

Figure 2.8 Lincoln Town Car by Nathan is used under a CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

Figure 2.9 Baltimore Airport by Lee Ruk is used under a CC-BY-SA 2.0 license.


Chapter 3. Accommodation

Rebecca Wilson-Mah

Learning Objectives

  • Explain the contribution the accommodations sector makes to Canada’s economy
  • Identify how a hotel category is determined, and describe different hotel categories in Canada
  • Explain the meaning and structure of independent ownership, franchise agreements, and management contracts
  • Summarize current accommodation trends
  • Discuss the structure of hotel operations


In essence, hospitality is made up of two services: the provision of overnight accommodation for people travelling away from home, and options for people dining outside their home. We refer to the accommodation and food and beverage services sectors together as the hospitality industry. This chapter explores the accommodation sector, and the Chapter 4 details the food and beverage sector.

A harbour filled with boats in front of Vancouver's tall city buildings
Figure 3.1 The view from a balcony at the Westin Bayshore hotel in downtown Vancouver

In Canada, approximately 25% to 35% of visitor spending is attributed to accommodation, making it a substantial portion of travel expenditures.


There were 8,090 hotel properties with a total of 440,123 rooms in Canada in 2014. Direct spending on overnight stays was $16.7 billion, and the year’s average occupancy rate was forecast at 64%. Across the country the sector employed 287,000 people (Hotel Association of Canada, 2014). According to go2HR, “with a projected rate of annual employment growth of 1.5 per cent, there will be 18,920 job openings between 2011 and 2020” (2015a).

In order to understand this large and significant sector, we will explore the history and importance of hotels in Canada, and review the hotel types along with various ownership structures and operational considerations. To complete the chapter, we will identify accommodation alternatives and specific trends that are affecting the accommodation sector today.

Spotlight On: The Hotel Association of Canada

The Hotel Association of Canada (HAC) is the national trade organization advocating on behalf of over 8,500 hotels. Founded over 100 years ago, the association also provides professional development resources, discounts with vendors, and industry research including statistics monitoring and an extensive member database. For more information, visit the Hotel Association of Canada website:

The History of Hotels in Canada

As we learned in Chapter 2, travel in Europe, North America, and Australia developed with the establishment of railway networks and train travel in the mid-1800s. The history of Canada’s grand hotels is also the story of Canada’s ocean liners and railways. Until the use of personal cars became widespread in the 1920s and 1930s, and taxpayer-funded all-weather highways were created, railways were the only long-distance land transportation available in Canada.

Both of Canada’s railway companies established hotel divisions: Canadian Pacific Hotels and Canadian National Hotels (Canada History, 2013). The first hotels were small and included Glacier House in Glacier National Park, BC, and Mount Stephen House in Field, BC. The hotel business was firmly established when both companies recognized the business opportunity in the growth of tourism, and they soon became rivals, building grand hotels in select locations close to railway stops.

Spotlight On: Canadian Pacific Hotels

Under the guidance of Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) chief engineer and visionary William Cornelius Van Horne, a hotel empire was born (Canada History, 2013). Van Horne was a pioneer of tourism, and like Thomas Cook in the UK, he saw the potential for tourism that was made possible by the railway. Van Horne was famously quoted in 1886, “If we can’t export the scenery, we’ll import the tourists.” In 1999, many historic CPR properties joined the Fairmont brand. For more information, visit the Fairmont website:

The Banff Springs Hotel is a large, castle like hotel with red walls and green, pointy roofs.
Figure 3.2 The Banff Springs Hotel today

Banff Springs Hotel opened in 1888, and other hotels soon followed, including the Château Frontenac in Quebec City (1893), the Royal York in Toronto (1929), and the Hotel Vancouver (1939). These hotels remain in operation today and are landmarks in their destinations, functioning as accommodations and as local attractions due to their historic significance and outstanding architecture.

Through the 1950s and 1960s, an increase in motor traffic saw the rise of the motel. The word motel, used less commonly today, comes from the term “motorist’s hotel,” used to denote a hotel that provides ample parking and rooms that are easily accessible from the parking lot. Traditionally, these structures were designed with all the rooms facing the parking lot, and relied heavily on motor traffic from nearby highways (Diffen, 2015).

Today, there are a number of hotel types, which can be classified in multiple ways. Let’s explore these classifications in more detail.

Hotel Types

Hotels are typically referred to by hotel type or category. The type of hotel is determined primarily by the size and location of the building structure, and then by the function, target market, service level, other amenities, and industry standards.

Take a Closer Look: Hotelier

The magazine Hotelier, available online and in eight annual print editions, is a resource relied on by many industry professionals across Canada. Featuring profiles of successful hoteliers, information about specific brands and properties, and hosting events including a speaker series, Hotelier is a good resource for students wanting more information about the sector in a dynamic format. Read press releases, find out about upcoming events, and subscribe at the Hotelier Magazine website:


Table 3.1 A summary of hotel types based on size (number of rooms), level of service, and other variables.
[Skip Table]
Type of Classification Examples of Classifications
Size (number of rooms)
  • Under 50 rooms
  • 50 to 150 rooms
  • 150 to 299 rooms
  • 300 to 600 rooms
  • More than 600 rooms
  • Airport hotel
  • Casino hotel
  • City centre hotel
  • Resort hotel
Level of service
  • Economy/limited service
  • Luxury service
  • Mid-level service
Market and function
  • Airport hotel
  • All-inclusive resort
  • Bed and breakfast
  • Business hotel
  • Boutique hotel
  • Casino
  • Conference centre
  • Convention centre
  • Extended-stay hotel
  • Resort hotel
  • Suite hotel
  • Timeshare and condominium hotel
Ownership and affiliation
  • Chain with a brand affiliation
  • Independent
  • Accessibility
  • Airport
  • Beach
  • Casino
  • City centre
  • Childcare
  • Fitness club
  • Golf
  • Pool
  • Ski
  • Spa
  • Tennis
  • Weddings
Industry standards
  • AAA Diamond Rating
  • CAA Diamond Rating
  • Canada Select Star Rating
  • Canadian Star Quality Accommodation
  • Green Key Eco Rating
  • Trip Advisor Traveller’s Choice
Brand standards (e.g., Starwood Hotels and Resorts has nine
different brands, each with its own set of standards)
  • Aloft
  • Element
  • Four Points by Sheraton
  • Le Méridien
  • Sheraton
  • St Regis

Competitive set is a marketing term used to identify a group of hotels that include the competitors that a hotel guest is likely to consider as an alternative. These can be grouped by any of the classifications listed in Table 3.1, such as size, location, or amenities offered. There must be a minimum of three hotels to qualify as a competitive set.

Figure 3.3 A wedding on the rooftop of the Pan Pacific Hotel in Vancouver, adjacent to the Vancouver Convention Centre

Business hotels, airport hotels, budget hotels, boutique hotels, convention hotels, and casino hotels are some examples of differentiated hotel concepts and services designed to meet a specific market segment. As companies continue to innovate and compete to capture defined niche markets within each set, we can expect to see the continued expansion of specific concepts. For example, hotels found close to, or even within, convention facilities are a great match for meetings and events, as well as the SMERF market (social, military, educational, religious, and fraternal segment of the group travel market).

Spotlight On: BC Hotel Association

The BC Hotel Association (BCHA) represents over 600 members and 200 associate members — accounting for 80,000 rooms and more than 60,000 employees. The association produces an annual industry trade show and seminar series, and publishes InnFocus magazine for professionals in the trade. For more information, visit the BC Hotel Association website:

Table 3.2 outlines the characteristics of specific hotel types that have evolved to match the needs of a particular traveller segment. As you can see, hotels adapt and diversify depending on the markets they want and need to attract to stay in business.

Table 3.2: Hotel characteristics based on market type
[Skip Table]
Market Segment Traveller Type Characteristics
Commercial Business
  • High-volume corporate accounts in city properties
  • Stronger demand Monday through Thursday
  • Most recession-proof of the market segments
  • Lower average daily rate (ADR) than other segments
Leisure Leisure
  • Purpose for travel includes sightseeing, recreation, or visiting friends and relatives
  • Stronger demand Friday and Saturday nights and all week during holidays and the summer
  • Includes tour groups in major cities and tourist attractions
Meetings and groups Corporate groups, associations, SMERF
  • Includes meetings, seminars, trade shows, conventions, and gatherings of over 10 people
  • Peak convention demand is spring or fall
  • Proximity to a conference centre and meeting and banquet space increase this market
Extended stay Business and leisure
  • Often offers kitchen facilities and living room spaces
  • Bookings are more than five nights
  • Often business related (e.g., natural resource extraction, construction projects, corporate projects)
  • Leisure demand driven by a variety of circumstances including family visiting relatives or completing home renovations, snowbirds escaping the winter

Let’s now take a closer look at three types of hotel that have emerged to meet specific market needs: budget hotels, boutique hotels, and resorts.

Budget Hotels

The term budget hotel is challenging to define, however most budget properties typically have a standardized appearance and offer basic services with limited food and beverage facilities. Budget hotels were first developed in the United States and built along the interstate highway system. The first Holiday Inn opened in the United States in 1952; the first Quality Motel followed in 1963.

In Europe, Accor operates the predominant European-branded budget rooms. Accor has four hotel brands that were recently redesigned: hotelF1, ibis budget, ibis Styles, and ibis. These budget brands offer comfort, modern design, and breakfast on site; ibis Styles is all inclusive, with one price for room night, breakfast, and internet access (Accor, 2015).

The budget brands owned by Accor are an example of a shift toward the budget boutique hotel style. A relatively new category of hotel, budget boutique is a no-frills boutique experience that still provides style, comfort, and a unique atmosphere. Starwood has entered this category with a scaled down version of W with the new Aloft brand that debuted in Montreal in 2008 (Starwood Hotels, 2011).

Boutique Hotels

Chocolates and a handwritten note welcoming the guest back to Victoria.
Figure 3.4 A picture of a welcome gift and note for a returning guest at the Magnolia Hotel and Spa, posted online by the guest

Canada currently has no industry standards to define boutique hotels, but these hotels generally share some common features. These include having less than 100 rooms and featuring a distinctive design style and on-site food and beverage options (Boutique Hotel Association, n.d.). As a reflection of the size of the hotel, a boutique hotel is typically intimate and has an easily identifiable atmosphere, such as classic, luxurious, quirky, or funky.

According to Bill Lewis, general manager for the Magnolia Hotel and Spa in Victoria, “guests seek out boutique hotels for their small size, individual design style, … and personalized service.”  He feels that “maintaining this service level in a small hotel allows for a very personalized and intimate experience that cannot be matched in large branded hotels” (personal communication, 2014).


A resort is a full-service hotel that provides access to or offers a range of recreation facilities and amenities. A resort is typically the primary provider of the guest experience and will generally have one signature amenity or attraction (Brey, 2009).

Examples of signature amenities include skiing and mountains, golf, beach and ocean, lakeside, casino and gaming, all inclusiveness, spa and wellness, marina, tennis, and waterpark. In addition, resorts also offer secondary experiences and a leisure or retreat-style environment.

Take a Closer Look: Condé Nast Best Hotels and Resorts in Canada 2014

Condé Nast Traveler and the CN publishing family have many well-regarded “best of” lists, one of which is the Best Hotels and Resorts in Canada. In 2014, three of the top 10 were in BC, with the Wickaninnish Inn and Black Rock Oceanfront Resort earning first and second place. You can read the rest of the list at, “The Best Hotels and Resorts in Canada: 2014”:

Now that we understand the classifications of hotel types, let’s gain a deeper understanding of the various ownership structures in the industry.

Ownership Structures

There are several ownership models employed in the sector today, including independent, management contract, chains and franchise agreements, fractional ownership, and full ownership strata units. This section explains each of these in more detail and provides examples of each.


Figure 3.5 The exterior of the Wedgewood in downtown Vancouver

An independent hotel is financed by one individual or a small group and is directly managed by its owners or third-party operators. The term independent refers to a management system that is free from outside control.

There are a number of very well-established independently branded hotels. These hotel companies have developed their own standards, support systems, policies and procedures, and best practices in all areas of the business. Independent hotels have the flexibility to customize or adjust their systems to position their property for success, and the location, product, service, experience, sales and marketing, and brand are all necessary for that success (Cabañas, 2014). An example of an independent hotel is the Wedgewood Hotel and Spa in Vancouver, founded by Eleni Skalbania, and currently co-owned by her daughter Elpie (Wedgewood, 2015).

Management Contract

Another business model is a management contract. This is a service offered by a management company to manage a hotel or resort for its owners. Owners have two main options for the structure of a management contract. One is to enter into a separate franchise agreement to secure a brand and then engage an independent third-party hotel management company to manage the hotel. SilverBirch Hotels is an example of a hotel management company that manages independent hotels and hotels operating under different major franchise brands, such as Marriott, Hilton, and Radisson (SilverBirch Hotels, 2015).

The Empress Hotel is a large, old-style hotel.
Figure 3.6 The iconic Fairmont Empress Hotel, purchased in 2014 by Nat and Flora Bosa

A slightly different option is for owners to select a single company to provide the brand and the expertise to manage the property. Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts and Fairmont Hotels and Resorts are companies that provide this option to owners. In 2014, the iconic Fairmont Empress hotel was purchased by Vancouver developer Nat Bosa and his wife Flora, who continued to retain Fairmont as the management company after the purchase (Meiszner, 2014).

Selecting a brand affiliation is one of the most significant decisions hotel owners must make (Crandell, Dickinson, & Kante, 2004). The brand affiliation selected will largely determine the cost of hotel development or conversion of an existing property to meet new brand standards. The affiliation will also determine a number of things about the ongoing operation including the level of services and amenities offered, cost of operation, marketing opportunities or restrictions, and the competitive position in the marketplace. For these reasons, owners typically consider several branding options before choosing to operate independently or selecting a brand affiliation.

Chains and Franchise Agreements

Figure 3.7 A room at the Coast Bastion Hotel in Nanaimo

Another managerial and ownership structure is franchising. A hotel franchise enables individuals or investment companies (the franchisee) to build or purchase a hotel and then buy or lease a brand name to operate a business and become part of a chain of hotels using the franchisor’s hotel brand, image, goodwill, procedures, controls, marketing, and reservations systems (Rushmore, 2005).

A well-known franchise in BC is Coast Hotels. A franchisee with Coast Hotels becomes part of a network of properties that use a central reservations system with access to electronic distribution channels, regional and national marketing programs, central purchasing, and brand operating standards (Coast Hotels, 2015). A franchisee also receives training, support, and advice from the franchisor and must adhere to regular inspections, audits, and reporting requirements.

Selecting a franchise structure may reduce investment risk by enabling the franchisee to associate with an established hotel company. Franchise fees can be substantial and a franchisee must be willing to adhere to the contractual obligations with the franchisor (Migdal, n.d.; and Rushmore, 2005).  Franchise fees typically include an initial fee paid with the franchise application, and then continuing fees paid during the term of the agreement. These fees are sometimes a percentage of revenue but can be set at a fixed fee. Franchise fees generally range from 4% to 7% of gross rooms revenue (Crandell et al., 2004).

Fractional Ownership

In a fractional ownership model, developers finance hotel builds by selling units in one-eighth to one-quarter shares. This financing model was very popular in BC from the late 1990s to 2008 (Western Investor, 2012). Examples of fractional ownership include the Sun Peaks Ski Resort in Kamloops and the Penticton Lakeside Resort.

In this model, owners can place their unit in a rental pool. The investment return for owners is based on the term

A large hotel at the bottom of a ski hill in winter.
Figure 3.8 The Sun Peaks Resort hotel

s of the contract they have for their unit, the strata fees, and the hotel’s occupancy. Managing fractional ownership can be very time consuming for hotel owners or management companies as each hotel unit can have up to eight owners. If occupancy rates are too low, an owner may not be able to cover the monthly strata fees. For the hotel management company, attaining occupancy rate targets is necessary to ensure that the balance of revenue is sufficient to cover the hotel’s operating expenses.

Developers now anticipate that fractional ownership will not be used to finance new hotel builds in the future due to poor performance. There have been some high-profile collapses for hotel developers in BC, and between 2002 and 2012 fractional hotel owners experienced asset depreciation (Western Investor, 2012). It is uncertain how the market will perform in the next several years.

Full Ownership Strata Units

Figure 3.9 The Rosewood Hotel Georgia, a restored historic hotel in downtown Vancouver

In this financing model, hotel developers finance a new hotel build with the sale of full ownership strata units. The sale of the condominium units finances the hotel development. Examples include the Fairmont Pacific Rim and the Rosewood Hotel Georgia.

Spotlight On: The BC Hospitality Foundation

The BC Hospitality Foundation (BCHF) was created to help support hospitality (accommodation and food and beverage) professionals in their time of need. It has expanded to become a provider of scholarships for students in hospitality management and culinary programs. To raise funds for these initiatives, the foundation hosts annual events including Dish and Dazzle and a golf tournament. For more information, visit the BC Hospitality Foundation website:

No matter what the ownership model, it’s critical for properties to offer a return on investment for owners. The next section looks at ways of measuring financial performance in the sector.

Financial Performance

According to hotel consultant Betsy McDonald from HVS International Hotel Consultancy, the “industry rule of thumb is that a hotel room must make $1 per night for every $1,000 it takes to build or buy. If the hotel costs $125,000 per [room], the room has to rent for $125 per night on average and you need 60% to 70% occupancy to break even” (McDonald, 2011).

Several terms and formulas are used to evaluate revenue management strategies and operational efficiency:

Occupancy is a term that refers to the percentage of all guest rooms in the hotel that are occupied at a given time. 

Average daily rate (ADR) is a calculation that states the average guest room income per occupied room in a given time period. It is determined by dividing the total room revenue by the number of rooms sold.

Revenue per available room (RevPAR ) is a calculation that combines both occupancy and ADR in one metric. It is calculated by multiplying a hotel’s ADR by its occupancy rate. It may also be calculated by dividing a hotel’s total room revenue by the total number of available rooms and the number of days in the period being measured.

Costs per occupied room (COPR) is a figure that states all the costs associated with making a room ready for a guest (linens, cleaning costs, guest amenities).

These terms and measurements allow hotel staff and management to track the success of the operation and to compare against competitors and regional averages.

Table 3.3 indicates the top five hotel companies in Canada based on revenue (Hotel Association of Canada, 2014). Note that the top two listings include units and revenues earned outside of Canada as these are international companies.

Table 3.3: Top earning hotel companies in Canada based on revenue
[Skip Table]
Company and Head Office Units in 2013 Revenue in 2013 (millions $)
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Toronto (Global) 92 4,300.0
Fairmont Raffles Hotels International, Toronto (Global) 109 3, 994.6
Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc., Connecticut 66 884.0
Marriott Hotels of Canada, Mississauga 79 794.7
Wyndham Hotel Group, New Jersey 497 791.9

Across all ownership models, most properties have operational aspects in common. But before we take a closer look at the roles within a typical hotel, let’s review an important part of the accommodations sector in Canada and BC: camping and recreational vehicle (RV) stays.

Camping and RV Accommodation

A number of tents are set up on the edge of a beach
Figure 3.10 A group of campers enjoy the night sky from their tents

A significant portion of travel accommodation is also provided in campgrounds and recreational vehicles (RVs). As the Canadian and BC tourism brands are closely tied to the outdoors, and these are two options that immerse travellers in the outdoor experience, it is no surprise that these two types of accommodation are popular options.

In 2011, 14% of Canadian households owned an RV, with over 1 million RVs on the road in the country that year. Economic activity associated with RVing generated approximately $14.5 billion. Across the country 3,000 independently owned and operated campgrounds welcomed guests for camping in RVs and in tents that year (CNW, 2014).

Spotlight On: Camping and RVing British Columbia Coalition

The Camping and RVing British Columbia Coalition (CRVBCC) represents campground managers and brings together additional stakeholders including the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association of BC and the Freshwater Fisheries Society. Their aim is to increase the profile of camping and RV experiences throughout BC, achieving this through a website, a blog, and media outreach. For more information, visit the Camping and RVing British Columbia Coalition website:

According to the Camping and RVing British Columbia Coalition (CRVBCC, 2014), BC is home to 340 vehicle accessible campgrounds managed by the BC Society of Park Facility Operators, and Destination British Columbia inspects and approves over 500 campgrounds across the province. Seven national parks within the province contain an additional 14 campgrounds, and the BC Recreation Sites and Trails Branch manages more than 1,200 backcountry sites including campgrounds and other facilities. Another 300 private RV parks and campgrounds play host to a mixture of longer-stay residents and overnight guests.

Spotlight On: the BC Lodging and Campgrounds Association

The BC Lodging and Campgrounds Association (BCLCA) was founded in 1944 to represent the interests of independently owned campgrounds and lodges. It provides advocacy and collaborative marketing, and promotes best practice among members. For more information, visit the BC Lodging and Campgrounds Association website:

In 2014, national industry associations began to call on the government for taxation relief and marketing help to ensure this segment of the sector could continue to thrive. They also highlighted the need to increase the operating hours and seasons of publicly funded campgrounds to match the private sector and to ensure continuity of service for guests (CNW, 2014). Closer to home, the BCLCA (see Spotlight On above) continues to advocate for equitable property tax arrangements, support with employment issues, and other policies relating to land and water use for their members.

Chapter 5 provides more in-depth information about the importance of the recreation sector to BC. For now, let’s move our discussion forward by taking a closer look at the common organizational structure of many accommodation businesses.


The organizational structures of operations and the number of roles and levels of responsibility vary depending on the type and size of accommodation. They are also determined by ownership and the standards and procedures of the management company. In this section, we explore the organizational structure and roles that are typically in place in a full-service hotel with under 500 rooms. These can also apply to smaller properties and businesses such as campgrounds — although in these cases several roles might be fulfilled by the same person.

Guest Services

Figure 3.11 Vicky welcomes guests to the front desk of the Delta Burnaby Hotel

Before we turn to examples of specific operational roles, let’s take a brief look at the importance of guest services, which will be covered in full in Chapter 9.

The accommodation sector provides much more than tangible products such as guest rooms, beds and meals; service is also crucial. Regardless of their role in the operation, all employees must do their part to ensure that each guest’s needs, preferences, and expectations are met and satisfied.

In some cases, such as in a luxury hotel, resort hotel, or an all-inclusive property, the guest services may represent a person’s entire vacation experience. In other cases, the service might be less significant, for example, in a budget airport hotel where location is the key driver, or a campground where guests primarily expect to take care of themselves.

In all cases, operators and employees must recognize and understand guest expectations and also what drives their satisfaction and loyalty. When the key drivers of guest satisfaction are understood, the hotel can ensure that service standards and business practices and policies support employees to deliver on these needs and that guest expectations are satisfied or exceeded.

Spotlight On: 4Hoteliers

4Hoteliers compiles world news for hotel, travel, and hospitality professionals. It features recent news releases and articles and a free e-newsletter distributed three times per week. For more information, or to subscribe, visit the 4Hoteliers website:

General Manager and Director of Operations

In most properties, the general manager or hotel manager serves as the head executive. Division heads oversee various departments including managers, administrative staff, and line-level supervisors. The general manager’s role is to provide strategic leadership and planning to all departments so revenue is maximized, employee relations are strong, and guests are satisfied.

The director of operations is responsible for overseeing the food and beverage and rooms division. This role is also responsible for providing guidance to department heads to achieve their targets and for directing the day-to-day operations of their respective departments. The director of operations also assumes the responsibilities of the general manager when he or she is absent from the property.


The controller is responsible for overall accounting and finance-related activities including accounts receivable, accounts payable, payroll, credit, systems management, cash management, food and beverage cost control, receiving, purchasing, food stores, yield management, capital planning, and budgeting.

Engineering and Maintenance

The chief engineer is the lead for the effective operation and maintenance of the property on a day-to-day basis, typically including general maintenance, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, kitchen maintenance, carpentry, and electrical and plumbing (Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, 2015). The chief engineer is also responsible for preventive maintenance and resource management programs.

Food and Beverage Division

Figure 3.12 A guest enjoys breakfast in her room at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Vancouver

The food and beverage director is responsible for catering and events, in-room dining, and stand-alone restaurants and bars. The executive chef, the director of banquets, and the assistant managers responsible for each restaurant report to the director of food and beverage. The director assists with promotions and sales, the annual food and beverage budget, and all other aspects of food and beverage operations to continually improve service and maximize profitability.

Human Resources

The human resources department provides guidance and advice on a wide range of management-related practices including recruitment and selection, training and development, employee relations, rewards and recognition, performance management, and health and safety.

Rooms Division

Front Office

Reporting to the director of rooms, the front office manager, sometimes called the reception manager, controls the availability of rooms and the day-to-day functions of the front office. The front desk agent reports to the front office manager and works in the lobby or reception area to welcome the guests to the property, process arrivals and departures, coordinate room assignments and pre-arrivals, and respond to guest requests.


Reporting to the director of rooms, the executive housekeeper manages and oversees housekeeping operations and staff including the housekeeping manager, supervisor, house persons, and room attendants. An executive housekeeper is responsible for implementing the operating procedures and standards. He or she also plans, coordinates, and schedules the housekeeping staff. Room audits and inspections are completed regularly to ensure standards are met (go2HR, 2015b).

Reporting to the housekeeping supervisor, room attendants complete the day-to-day task of cleaning rooms based on standard operating procedures and respond to guest requests. Reporting to the housekeeping supervisor, house persons clean public areas including hallways, the lobby, and public restrooms, and deliver laundry and linens to guest rooms.


Large full-service hotels typically have a reservations department, and the reservations manager reports directly to the front office manager. The guest’s experience starts with the first interaction a guest has with a property, often during the reservation process. Reservations agents convert calls to sales by offering the guest the opportunity to not only make a room reservation but also book other amenities and activities.

Today, with online and website reservations available to guests, there is still a role for the reservations agent, as some guests prefer the one-to-one connection with another person. The extent to which the reservations agent position is resourced will vary depending on the hotel’s target market and business strategy.

Sales and Marketing

The sales and marketing director is responsible for establishing sales and marketing activities that maximize the hotel’s revenues. This is typically accomplished by increasing occupancy and revenue opportunities for the hotel’s accommodation, conference and catering space, leisure facilities, and food and beverage outlets. The sales and marketing manager is responsible for coordinating marketing and promotional activities and works closely with other hotel departments to ensure customers are satisfied with all aspects of their experience (go2HR, 2015c).

Catering and Conference Services

In larger full-service hotels with conference space, a hotel will have a dedicated catering and conference services department. The director of this department typically reports to the director of sales and marketing. The catering and conference services department coordinates all events held in the hotel or catered off-site. Catering and conference events and services range from small business meetings to high-profile conferences and weddings.

Figure 3.13 The culinary team at Café Pacifica in the Pan Pacific prepares food for a special event

Now that we have a sense of the building blocks of a typical hotel operation, let’s look at some trends affecting the sector.

Trends and Issues

The accommodation sector is sensitive to shifting local, regional, and global economic, social, and political conditions. Businesses must be flexible to meet the needs of their different markets and evolving trends. These trends affect all hotel types, regions, and destinations differently. However, overall, hoteliers must respond to these trends in a business landscape that is increasingly competitive, particularly in markets where the supply base is growing faster than demand (Hotelier, 2014).

The Sharing Economy: Airbnb

The sharing economy is a relatively new economic model in which people rent beds, cars, boats, and other underutilized assets directly from each other, all coordinated via the internet (The Economist, 2013). Airbnb is the most prominent example of this model. It provides a platform for travellers and manages all aspects of the relationship without requiring any paperwork.

At Airbnb, the host who rents out the space controls the price, the description of the space, and the guest experience. The host also makes the house rules and has full control over who books the space. As well, both hosts and guests can rate each other and write reviews on the website (Cole, 2014).

Airbnb began in 2008 when the founders rented their air mattresses to three visitors in San Francisco (Fast Company, 2012). In fact, the name Airbnb is derived from “air mattress bed and breakfast.” However, Airbnb is not only for couch surfers or budget-conscious travellers; it includes a wide range of spaces in locations all over the world. When users create an account, they set the price and write the descriptions to advertise the space to guests (Airbnb, 2015). Since 2008, the Airbnb online marketplace has grown rapidly, with more than 1 million properties worldwide and 30 million guests who used the service by the end of 2014 (Melloy, 2015).

Figure 3.14 The Airbnb home page on a user’s mobile phone

This and other innovations have changed the accommodation landscape as never before. Ten to 15 years ago online travel agents were a major innovation that changed the distribution and sale of rooms. But they still had to work with existing hotels, whereas Airbnb has enabled new entrants into the industry and thus increased supply.

On the supply side, Airbnb enables individuals to share their spare space for rent; on the demand side, consumers using Airbnb benefit from increased competition and more choice. An unanswered question is to what extent Airbnb has impacted the hospitality industry at large and how it will impact it in the future. A study completed in 2014 in Austin, Texas, indicates that lower-end hotels, and hotels not catering to business travellers, are more vulnerable to increased competition from rentals enabled by firms like Airbnb than are hotels without these characteristics (Zervas, Preserpio, & Byers, 2015).

Distribution and Online Travel Agents

Online travel agents (OTAs) are a valuable marketing and third-party distribution resource for hotels and play a significant role in online distribution (Inversini & Masiero, 2014). In the first quarter of 2014, 13.2% of hotel bookings for individual leisure and business travellers (TravelClick, 2014) were made through OTAs (for example, Expedia,,

OTAs offer global distribution so that each hotel and chain can be available to anyone at the click of a button (Then Hospitality, 2014). Smaller independent hotels that do not have the global marketing and sales resources of a larger chain are able to gain exposure, sell rooms, and build their reputation through online guest ratings and reviews. OTAs also help hotels offer combined value and packaging options that are attractive to many consumers (for example, booking and search options for hotels, car rentals, air fare, attractions, and travel packages). Customized searches, travel guidance, and rewards points are also available when booking through an OTA. If a hotel or chain has an exceptional product and service, OTAs share guest ratings, which can increase the number of reservations and referrals.

Chris Anderson at the Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell University analyzed 1,720 reservations made on the websites of six InterContinental Hotels brands (2012). Anderson found that every booking made on Expedia attracted three to nine reservations to the hotel’s site, suggesting the commission a hotel pays an OTA is a cost-effective expense, as it generates additional revenues.

The general industry guidance for hotels using OTAs is to ensure that this distribution channel is part of a broader sales strategy, coupled with sound customer relationship management practices.

Table 3.4 provides an overview of some of the distribution channels that are available to hoteliers.

Table 3.4: Distribution channels and benefits
[Skip Table]
Distribution Channel Benefits
Hotel website or brand website (e.g.,
  • Consumers prefer to book directly with the property
  • Instills consumers with the trust to book
  • Reduces or eliminates booking fees
Online travel agent (OTA)
  • Generates a billboard effect
  • Works well when OTAs are the most relevant channel to the hotel’s target market
  • Necessary to capture last-minute bookings
Global distribution system (travel agents)
  • Increases exposure to bookings through travel agents
  • Helps capture consumers who continue to use traditional channels
Social media
  • Provides opportunity to nurture relationships with consumers by responding to guest concerns and suggestions

For more on marketing in the services sector, see Chapter 8.

Online Bookings and Mobile Devices

In 2014, 27% of online bookings in leading regions in the United States were made by consumers using their mobile devices and tablets (Travel Click, 2014). As the trend continues, hoteliers are adapting their e-commerce strategy to respond appropriately and to understand what consumers in their hotel segment need, want, and expect from the mobile booking experience. According to Travel Click (2014), same-day reservations are also on the rise. Bookings made with mobile devices can be incentivized by offers for deals such as mobile-specific rate plans or discounts to directly target last-minute shoppers.

Figure 3.15 A group of travellers on their mobile phones at baggage claim in an airport

Table 3.5 was generated by a review of press releases (Hotel Analyst, 2014), and it provides some examples of mobile technologies and customized apps used by hotel companies.

Table 3.5: Examples of mobile technology used by leading hotel companies
[Skip Table]
Company App Characteristics
Best Western Best Western To Go (launched 2009, refreshed 2013)  New apps for Android and Blackberry
Hilton Mobile website iPhone and Android apps for each brand
Hyatt Mobile website Single app for all brands
IHG Mobile website iPhone apps for all seven brands, iPhone app for Priority Awards
Marriott Mobile website with 10 million visits per month Single app for Marriott downloaded 2.3 million times
Starwood Launched enhanced mobile site in 2013 across nine brands Single app for Starwood brands through SPG app for iPad, iPhone, and Chinese app for Android
Wyndham Mobile website Single app for all brands


The accommodation sector, and the hotel sector in particular, encompasses multiple business models and employs hundreds of thousands of Canadians. A smaller, but important segment in BC is that of camping and RV accommodators.

As broader societal trends continue and morph, they will continue to impact the accommodations marketplace and consumer. Owners and operators must stay abreast of these trends, continually altering their business models and services to remain relevant and competitive.

Now that we have a better sense of the accommodation sector, let’s visit the other half of the hospitality industry: food and beverage services. Chapter 4 explores this in more detail.

Key Terms

  • Average daily rate (ADR): average guest room income per occupied room in a given time period
  • BC Hospitality Foundation (BCHF): created to help support hospitality professionals in their time of need; now also a provider of scholarships for students in hospitality management and culinary programs
  • BC Hotel Association (BCHA): the trade association for BC’s hotel industry, which hosts an annual industry trade show and seminar series, and publishes InnFocus magazine for professionals
  • BC Lodging and Campgrounds Association (BCLCA): represents the interests of independently owned campgrounds and lodges in BC
  • Camping and RVing British Columbia Coalition (CRVBCC): represents campground managers and brings together additional stakeholders including the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association of BC and the Freshwater Fisheries Society
  • Competitive set: a marketing term used to identify a group of hotels that include all competitors that a hotel’s guests are likely to consider as an alternative (minimum of three)
  • Costs per occupied room (CPOR): all the costs associated with making a room ready for a guest (linens, cleaning costs, guest amenities)
  • Fractional ownership: a financing model that developers use to finance hotel builds by selling units in one-eighth to one-quarter shares
  • Franchise: enables individuals or investment companies to build or purchase a hotel and then buy or lease a brand name under which to operate; also can include reservation systems and marketing tools
  • Franchisee: an individual or company buying or leasing a franchise
  • Franchisor: a company that sells franchises
  • Hotel Association of Canada (HAC): the national trade organization advocating on behalf of over 8,500 hotels
  • Hotel type: a classification determined primarily by the size and location of the building structure, and then by the function, target markets, service level, other amenities, and industry standards
  • Motel: a term popular in the last century, combining the words “motor hotel”; typically designed to provide ample parking and easy access to rooms from the parking lot
  • Occupancy: the percentage of all guest rooms in the hotel that are occupied at a given time
  • Revenue per available room (RevPAR): a calculation that combines both occupancy and ADR in one metric
  • Sharing economy: an internet-based economic system in which consumers share their resources, typically with people they don’t know, and typically in exchange for money
  • SMERF: an acronym for the social, military, educational, religious, and fraternal segment of the group travel market


  1. On a piece of paper, list as many types of accommodation classifications (e.g., by size) as you can think of. Name at least five. Provide examples of each.
  2. When researching a franchisor, the cost of the franchise must be carefully considered. What other factors would you consider to determine the value of a franchise fee?
  3. How should lower-end hotels and hotels that do not cater to business travellers respond to increased competition from rentals enabled by firms like Airbnb?
  4. A hotel earns $3,000 on 112 rooms. What is its ADR?
  5. That same hotel has an occupancy of 75%. What is its RevPAR?
  6. How many independent campgrounds are there across Canada?
  7. How many vehicle-accessible campsites are there in BC?
  8. Airbnb enables hosts to rate their guests after a stay. Consider some other types of accommodation and list the pros and cons of rating guests.
  9. Draw an organizational chart for a 60-room boutique hotel, listing all the staff required to run the operation. Put the most influential people (e.g., the general manager) at the top and work your way down. How would you structure this differently from a larger full-service hotel? What would you keep the same?
  10. Read the Condé Nast list for Best Hotels and Resorts in Canada for 2014 (in the Take a Closer Look feature). Now find two other “best of” lists for BC, Canada, or global accommodations. What do the winners have in common? List at least three things. Now try to find at least two differences.

Case Study: Hotel for Dogs – Philanthropy and Media Coverage

In 2014, the media was taken by storm with a story about a hotel in North Carolina that combined philanthropy with their business model. The property expanded on the trend of allowing dogs in hotels by fostering rescues from a nearby shelter and allowing guests to adopt them. Guests appreciated the warm interactions with the animals and several dogs were adopted as a result (Manning, 2014).Not only did the property provide a valuable service and enhance the guest experience, but the story was repeated across multiple media outlets, creating publicity for the hotel.

This is an example of a current trend: allowing pets in hotels. Now choose from one of the following trends, and research it to answer the questions that follow:

  • Carbon offset programs
  • Customization
  • Reputation management
  • Digital concierge
  • Themed sleep
  • Lifestyle food choices
  • Educational experiences
  • Millennial traveller
  • Sharing economy
  • Green certified
  • Extreme experiences
  1. Why do you think this trend has emerged? What market is it helping to serve?
  2. Find an example of a hotel that has responded to your chosen trend and explain how the trend has informed or changed the hotel’s business strategy or practice.
  3. Are there any trends that are not listed above that you think should be added? Try to name at least two. Why are these important accommodation trends today?


Accor. (2015). Brand portfolio, economy brands. Retrieved from

Airbnb. (2015). How to host. Retrieved from

Anderson, C. (2012, November). The impact of social media on lodging performance. Retrieved from

Boutique Hotel Association. (n.d.) Terminology and definitions for boutique and lifestyle hotels and properties. Retrieved from

Brey, E. (2009). Resort definitions and classifications: A summary report to research participants. [PDF] University of Memphis: Center for Resort and Hospitality Business. Retrieved from

Cabañas, A. (2014). “Chain” versus “independent” – A view from an operator of independent hotels. hospitalitynet. Retrieved from

Canada History. (2013). The railroad. Retrieved from

CNW. (2014, May 1). Canadian RV and camping industry urges government to address critical infrastructure needs. Retrieved from

Coast Hotels and Resorts. (2015) Management and franchises. Retrieved from

Cole, S. (2014). Fast company how a startup grows up: Lessons from AirBnB’s open air summit. Retrieved from

Crandell, C., Dickinson, K., & Kanter, G. I. (2004). Negotiating the hotel management contract. In Hotel Asset Management: Principles & Practices. East Lansing, MI: University of Denver and American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute.

CRVBCC. (2014). About us: The Camping and RVing British Columbia Coalition. Retrieved from

Diffen. (2015). Hotel vs motel. Retrieved from

Economist, The. (2013). Silverstein, B. The rise of the sharing economy. Retrieved from

Fairmont Hotels and Resorts. (2015). Chief engineer job description. Retrieved from

Fast Company. (2012). Airbnb – Most innovative companies 2012. Retrieved from

go2HR. (2015a). Accommodations. Retrieved from

go2HR. (2015b). Executive housekeeper profile. Retrieved from

go2HR. (2015c). Director of sales and marketing in hotel profile. Retrieved from

Hotel Analyst. (2014). The intelligence source for the hotel investment community. Retrieved from

Hotel Association of Canada. (2014). Hotel industry fact sheet. [PDF] Retrieved from

Hotelier. (2014, September 12). The 2014 hospitality market Report. Retrieved from

Inversini, A., Masiero, L. (2014). Selling rooms online: the use of social media and online travel agents. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 26 (2), 272-292

McDonald, B. (2011). Canadian Monthly Lodging Outlook. Retrieved from

Manning, S. (2014, December 31). This hotel is saving lives by matching guests with rescue pups. Huffington Post. Retrieved from

Meiszner, P. (2014, June 27.) Fairmont Empress hotel in Victoria purchased by Vancouver developer. Global News. Retrieved from

Melloy, J. (2015, February 2). Airbnb guests triple hurting Priceline, HomeAway. CNBC. Retrieved from

Migdal, N. (n.d.) Franchise agreements vs. management agreements: Which one do I choose? Hotel Business Review. Retrieved from

Rushmore, S. (2005). What does a hotel franchise cost? Canadian Lodging Outlook. Retrieved from

SilverBirch Hotels. (2015). About us. Retrieved from

Starwood Hotels. (2011, April 12). Starwood to reach 60th hotel milestone in Canada. Retrieved from

Then Hospitality. (2014, April 15). The benefits of using online travel agencies (OTAs). Retrieved from

Travel Click. (2014). Business and leisure travelers continue to book more hotel reservations online. Retrieved from

Wedgewood Hotel & Spa. (2014). Luxury boutique Vancouver Hotel – Wedgewood Hotel & Spa. Retrieved from

Western Investor. (2012). Investors burnt in hotel condos, fractionals. Retrieved from

Zervas, G., Preserpio, D., & Byers, J.W., (2015). The rise of the sharing economy: Estimating the impact of Airbnb on the hotel industry. Boston U. School of Management Research Paper No. 2013-16. Available at SSRN: or


Figure 3.1 Shot from balconey by Alan Wolf is used under a CC BY-NC 2.0 license.

Figure 3.2 Banff Springs Hotel by Evan Leeson is used under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.

Figure 3.3 JONETSUpanpac07 by is used under a CC BY 2.0 license.

Figure 3.4 The Magnolia Hotel (Victoria) 2013 by Raul Pacheco-Vega is used under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

Figure 3.5 Wedgewood Hotel by Stewart Marshall is used under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

Figure 3.6 The Empress by 3dpete is used under a CC BY ND 2.0 license.

Figure 3.7 Coast Bastion Hotel (Nanaimo) by Raul Pacheco-Vega is used under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

Figure 3.8 Delta Sun Peaks Hotel by jhopkins is used under a CC BY 2.0 license.

Figure 3.9 Hotel Georgia, Rosewood Hotel Vancouver by Rishad Daroowala is used under a CC BY-ND 2.0 license.

Figure 3.10 Night Neighbours by James Wheeler is used under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.

Figure 3.11 Vicky Lee at Delta Burnaby Hotel by LinkBC is used under a CC BY 2.0 license.

Figure 3.12 Scott and Tina Visit the Pan Pacific Vancouver by Pan Pacific Hotel is used under a CC BY 2.0 license.

Figure 3.13 Cafe Pacifica Restaurant 2013 Winter Menus by Pan Pacific is used under a CC BY 2.0 license.

Figure 3.14 Airbnb by Gustavo da Cunha Pimenta is used under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

Figure 3.15 Waiting at baggage claim by hjl is used under a CC BY-NC 2.0 license.


Chapter 4. Food and Beverage Services

Peter Briscoe and Griff Tripp

Learning Objectives

  • Describe the origins and significance of the food and beverage sector
  • Relate the importance of the sector to the Canadian economy
  • Explain the various types of food and beverage providers
  • Discuss differing needs and desires of residents and visitors in selecting a food and beverage provider
  • Examine factors that contribute to the profitability of food and beverage operations
  • Discuss key issues and trends in the sector including government influence, health and safety, human resources, and technology


According to Statistics Canada, the food and beverage sector comprises “establishments primarily engaged in preparing meals, snacks and beverages, to customer order, for immediate consumption on and off the premises” (Government of Canada, 2012). This sector is commonly known to tourism professionals by its initials as F&B.

The food and beverage sector grew out of simple origins: as people travelled from their homes, going about their business, they often had a need or desire to eat or drink. Others were encouraged to meet this demand by supplying food and drink. As the interests of the public became more diverse, so too did the offerings of the food and beverage sector.

In 2014, Canadian food and beverage businesses accounted for 1.1 million employees and more than 88,000 locations across the country with an estimated $71 billion in sales, representing around 4% of the country’s overall economic activity. Many students are familiar with the sector through their workplace, because Canada’s restaurants provide one in every five youth jobs in the country — with 22% of Canadians starting their career in a restaurant or foodservice business. Furthermore, going out to a restaurant is the number one preferred activity for spending time with family and friends (Restaurants Canada, 2014a).

Food and Beverage Sector Performance

Food service spending. Long description available
Figure 4.1. Foodservice spending as a percentage of total food dollars spent in Canada and the US [Long Description]

Look at Figure 4.1, which illustrates the percentage of total food dollars spent in restaurants in Canada and the United States over several years. As you can see, Americans spend significantly more of their total food dollars in foodservice establishments than in grocery stores, and in Canada we spend more of our total food dollars in the grocery store than we do in foodservice operations. It’s worth noting that Americans do not have an equivalent federal sales tax on meals comparable to our GST on foodservice sales, although there does exist in some states a sales tax on meals and alcoholic beverages (State Sales Tax Rates, 2015). This, combined with a larger population, cheaper food distribution costs, and other factors can often mean that it’s less expensive to dine out in the United States than in Canada.

For a perspective on how sales are distributed across the country by province, and how different foodservice operations perform in terms of revenue (sales dollars collected from guests), look at Tables 4.1 and 4.2.

Table 4.1: Performance by province for commercial foodservice — units
[Skip Table]
Province Foodservice Units Average Volume/Unit ($)
Total Chain Share (%) Independent Share (%)
Newfoundland and Labrador 1,127 44 56 715,976
Prince Edward Island 369 35 65 549,428
Nova Scotia 2,089 40 60 637,237
New Brunswick 1,701 48 52 579,576
Quebec 21,865 31 69 488,712
Ontario 33,628 45 55 623,862
Manitoba 2,448 41 59 657,245
Saskatchewan 2,330 43 57 744,322
Alberta 9,858 47 53 828,860
British Columbia 13,214 33 67 627,599
Canada 88,795 40 60 619,013
Data source: Statistics Canada, 2013
Table 4.2: Performance by province for commercial foodservice — sales
[Skip Table]
Province Sales Growth Sales Pre-tax Profit Margin (%)
2013-14 Forecast (%) 2012-13 (%) 2013 ($ millions)
Newfoundland and Labrador 2.7 9.2 806.9 6.7
Prince Edward Island 1.6 4.4 202.7 5.7
Nova Scotia 3.8 0.7 1,330.9 5.2
New Brunswick 2.1 0.3 985.6 5.2
Quebec 3.8 2.7 10,685.4 3.9
Ontario 4.1 4.2 20,979.2 2.8
Manitoba 4.6 6.1 1,608.6 7.9
Saskatchewan 4.7 7.0 1,733.9 7.0
Alberta 5.4 6.4 8,170.5 7.1
British Columbia 3.7 6.1 8,292.8 3.4
Canada 4.2 4.6 54,965.3 4.2
Data source: Statistics Canada, 2013

Table 4.1 shows that the independents in BC have a much larger share of the total number of units compared with chains than any other province except Quebec. In terms of sales (Table 4.2), Ontario is the leader with almost $21 billion. Quebec, BC, and Alberta each earned $8 to $10 billion, and the other provinces had sales of less than $2 billion apiece. While BC and Alberta are almost even in total sales, BC has a third more units (restaurants), leading to lower average sales per unit.

Foodservice sales in Alberta rose by a solid 6.4% in 2013. Alberta boasts the highest average unit volume at $828,860 per year, more than $200,000 over the national average due to greater disposable income and no provincial sales tax on meals. In BC, the end of the HST (harmonized sales tax) and improved economic growth lifted total foodservice sales by a healthy 6.1% for the strongest annual growth since 2006 (Restaurants Canada, 2014a).

Now let’s take a quick look at which provinces have the most profitable foodservice operations.

Profit margins in 2012 by province. Long description available.
Figure 4.2 Pre-tax profit margins. [Long Description]

Figure 4.2 indicates the profit margins per province. Profit is the amount left when expenses (including corporate income tax) are subtracted from sales revenue. A higher profit margin means that a greater percentage of sales is retained by the business owner, and a lower percentage is lost to operating and other costs.

The provincial variations in total sales and profit margins are due to several factors including:

Now that we have a sense of the relative performance of F&B operations by province, and some influences on success, let’s delve a little deeper into the sector.

Types of Food and Beverage Providers

An old train station that has been turned into a restaurant.
Figure 4.3 The Keg at the Station is in a former train station in New Westminster, BC

While there are many ways to analyze the sector, in this chapter, we take a market-based, business-operation approach based on the overall Canadian market share from the Restaurants Canada Market Review and Forecast (Restaurants Canada, 2014b). The following sections explore the types of foodservice operations in Canada.

There are two key distinctions: commercial foodservice, which comprises operations whose primary business is food and beverage, and non-commercial foodservice establishments where food and beverages are served, but are not the primary business.

Let’s start with the largest segment of F&B operations, the commercial sector.

Commercial Operators

Commercial operators make up the largest segment of F&B in Canada with just over 80% market share (Restaurants Canada, 2014b). It is made up of quick-service restaurants, full-service restaurants, catering, and drinking establishments. Let’s look at each of these in more detail.

Quick-Service Restaurants

Formerly known as fast-food restaurants, quick-service restaurants, or QSRs, make up 35.4% of total food sales in Canada (Restaurants Canada, 2014b). This prominent portion of the food sector generally caters to both residents and visitors, and is represented in areas that are conveniently accessed by both. Brands, chains, and franchises dominate the QSR landscape. While the sector has made steps to move away from the traditional fast-food image and style of service, it is still dominated by both fast food and food fast; in other words, food that is prepared and purchased quickly, and generally consumed quickly.

Take a Closer Look: The First McDonald’s In Canada

The first McDonald’s restaurant in Canada opened in Richmond, BC, in 1967. Located on No. 3 Road, it featured a sleek almost space-age design. To see a picture of the location, visit McDonald’s: Then and Now:

Convenience and familiarity is key in this sector. Examples of QSRs include:

Full-Service Restaurants

With 35% of the market share (Restaurants Canada, 2014b), full-service restaurants are perhaps the most fluid of the F&B operation types, adjusting and changing to the demands of the marketplace. Consumer expectations are higher here than with QSRs (Parsa, Lord, Putrevu, & Kreeger, 2015). The menus offered are varied, but in general reflect the image of the restaurant or consumer’s desired experience. Major segments include fine dining, family/casual, ethnic, and upscale casual.

What looks like a fancy display of pink ice cream set on strawberries and whip cream.
Figure 4.4 A rhubarb pavlova with local Pemberton strawberries is served at Araxi Restaurant + Bar, a fine dining establishment in Whistler.

Fine dining restaurants are characterized by highly trained chefs preparing complex food items, exquisitely presented. Meals are brought to the table by experienced servers with sound food and beverage knowledge in an upscale atmosphere with table linens, fine china, crystal stemware, and silver-plate cutlery. The table is often embellished with fresh flowers and candles. In these businesses, the average cheque, which is the total sales divided by number of guests served, is quite high (often reviewed with the cost symbols of three or four dollar signs- $ $ $ or $ $ $ $).

Bishop’s in Vancouver is one of BC’s best known and longest operating fine dining restaurants. Since opening in 1985, this 45-seat restaurant has served heads of state including Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin, and has won awards including the Best of Vancouver. John Bishop was awarded the Governor General’s Award in 2010 (Georgia Straight, 2015).

Family/casual restaurants are characterized by being open for all three meal periods. These operations offer affordable menu items that span a variety of customer tastes. They also have the operational flexibility in menu and restaurant layout to welcome large groups of diners. An analysis of menus in family/casual restaurants reveals a high degree of operational techniques such as menu item cross-utilization, where a few key ingredients are repurposed in several ways. Both chain and independent restaurant operators flourish in this sector. Popular chain examples in BC include White Spot, Ricky’s All Day Grill, Boston Pizza, and The Old Spaghetti Factory. Independents include the Red Wagon Café in Vancouver, the Bon Voyage Restaurant near Prince George, and John’s Place in Victoria.

This restaurant has mandy stained glass windows and stained glass lights.
Figure 4.5 This is the interior of the Old Spaghetti Factory, a popular family chain, in Gastown, Vancouver. This location opened in 1970 and has stood the test of time.

Ethnic restaurants typically reflect the owner’s cultural identity. While these restaurants are popular with many markets, they are often particularly of interest to visitors and new immigrants looking for a specific environment and other people with whom they have a shared culture. Food is often the medium for this sense of belonging (Koc & Welsh, 2001; Laroche, Kim, Tomiuk, & Belisle, 2005).

Figure 4.6 The exterior of Vij’s, the flagship restaurant of Vikram Vij’s ethnic dining legacy

The growth and changing nature of this sector reflects the acceptance of various ethnic foods within our communities. Ethnic restaurants generally evolve along two routes: toward remaining authentic to the cuisine of the country of origin, or toward larger market acceptance through modifying menu items (Mak, Lumbers, Eves, & Chang, 2012).

Upscale casual restaurants emerged in the 1970s, evolving out of a change in social norms. Consumers began to want the experience of a fun social evening at a restaurant with good value (but not cheap), in contrast to the perceived stuffiness of fine dining at that time. These restaurants are typically dinner houses, but they may open for lunch or brunch depending on location. Examples in BC include the Keg, Earls, Cactus Club, Brown’s Social House, and Joey Restaurants.

Catering and Banqueting

Catering makes up only 6.8% of the total share of F&B in Canada (Restaurants Canada, 2014b) and comprises food served by catering companies at banquets and special events at a diverse set of venues. Note that banqueting pertains to catered food served on premise, while catering typically refers to off-premise service. At a catered event, customers typically eat at the same time, as opposed to restaurant customers who are served individually or in small groups.

Catering businesses (whether on-site or at special locations) are challenged by the episodic nature of events, and the issues of food handling and food safety with large groups. Catering businesses include:

Spotlight On: Diner en Blanc

An interesting public event with a dining focus is Diner en Blanc, which is held in cities around the globe including Vancouver and Victoria. Diners wear all white and bring their table, chair, and place settings with them to a secret location announced only hours before. Participants have the option to bring their own food or purchase a catered meal. Alcoholic beverages are also available for purchase on site. For more information, visit the Diner en Blanc website:

Rows of tables with people dressed fancily in white sitting around them.
Figure 4.7 Diner en Blanc Vancouver’s first event at Jack Poole Plaza

While beverages make up part of almost every dining experience, some establishments are founded on beverage sales. Let’s look at these operations next.


With 3.5% market share (Restaurants Canada, 2014b), the drinking establishment sector comprises bars, wine bars, cabarets, nightclubs, and pubs.  In British Columbia, all businesses and premises selling alcohol must adhere to the BC Liquor Control and Licensing Act. At the time this chapter was written, significant changes were taking place in the regulations governing drinking establishments, but some general conditions have remained stable.

In BC, liquor licences are divided into liquor primary and food primary. As the name  suggests, a liquor primary licence is needed to operate a business that is in the primary business of selling alcohol. Most pubs, nightclubs, and cabarets fall into this category. A food primary licence is required for an operation whose primary business is serving food. Some operations, such as pubs, will hold a liquor primary licence even though they serve a significant volume of food. In this case, the licence allows for diverse patronage.

One noteworthy change to the licensing of pubs in BC is that children are permitted in them if they are accompanied and attended by responsible adults. While not universally adopted by pubs to date, this change in legislation is an example of the fluctuating social norms to which the sector must respond.

Figure 4.8 The Six Mile Pub in Victoria, established in 1855, British Columbia’s oldest public house

Together the commercial ventures of QSRs, full-service restaurants, catering functions, and drinking establishments make up just over 80% of the market share. Now let’s look at the other 20% of businesses, which fall under the non-commercial umbrella.


The following non-commercial entities earn just under 20% share of the foodservice earnings in Canada (Restaurants Canada, 2014b). While these make up a smaller share of the market, there are some advantages inherent in these business models. Non-commercial operations cater predominantly to consumers with limited selection or choice given their occupation or location. This type of consumer is often referred to as a captured patron. In a tourism capacity such as in airports or on cruise ships, the accepted price point for these patrons is often higher for a given product, increasing profit margins.


Often run under a predetermined contract, this sector includes:

Accommodation Foodservice

These include hotel restaurants and bars, room service, and self-serve dining operations (such as a breakfast room).  Hotel restaurants are usually open to the public and reliant on this public patronage in addition to business from hotel guests. Collaborations between hotel chains and restaurant chains have seen reliable pairing of hotels and restaurants, such as the combination of Sandman Hotels and Moxie’s Grill and Bar.

Vending and Automated Foodservices

While not generally viewed as part of the food and beverage sector, automated and vending services do account for significant sales for both small and large foodservice and accommodation providers. Vending machines are located in motels, hotels, transportation terminals, sporting venues, or just about any location that will allow for the opportunity for an impulse or convenient purchase.

Business Performance for Types of Food and Beverage Operators

Market share by restaurant segment. Long description available.
Figure 4.9 Share of market for different restaurant segments [Long Description]

As mentioned, the commercial sector comprises the majority of dollars earned. Figure 4.9 illustrates the difference between share of traffic and share of dollars for each subsector. We know that QSRs are much more economical and generally much busier than full-service restaurants. How does that traffic and low prices translate into market share for the different segments?

Figure 4.9 shows that QSRs attract two-thirds of all the traffic, while earning less than half of the total dollars. Family/midscale and casual dining each attract half the dollars of QSR, but they do that from much lower shares of the traffic. Meanwhile fine dining is patronized by less than 1% of the total restaurant traffic, but earns 4.2% of the dollars. The growing force of convenience stores, department stores, and other retail establishments obtain a respectable 11.5% of traffic and 10.6% of the restaurant dollar.

As you can see, while QSRs attract the greatest number of guests, the ratio of dollars earned per transaction is significantly less than that of the fine dining sector. This makes sense, of course, because the typical QSR earns relatively little per guest but attracts hundreds of customers, while a fine dining restaurant charges high prices and serves a select few guests each day.

Sales Per Segment

Table 4.3: Sector sales and market shares for 2012-2013
[Skip Table]
Type of Restaurant 2012 Final ($ millions) Segment Market Share (%) 2013 Preliminary ($ millions) Segment Market Share (%)
COMMERCIAL QSR 23,139.7 35.4 24,114.5 35.4
Full-service 22,631.1 34.7 23,847.3 35.0
Caterers 4,443.6 6.8 4,644.9 6.8
Drinking places 2,355.6 3.6 2,358.6 3.5
Total Commercial 52,570.1 80.5 54,965.3 80.7
NON-COMMERCIAL Accommodation 5,456 8.4 5,647.0 8.3
Institutional 3,668.6 5.6 3,898.5 5.7
Retail 1,234.3 1.9 1,199.4 1.8
Other 2,362 3.6 2,416.3 3.5
Total Non-Commercial 12,720.9 19.5 13,161.3 19.3
Data source: Restaurants Canada, 2013

The sales revenues for the various segments are shown in Table 4.3. Note that QSRs and full-service restaurants are almost equal in their sales and almost completely dwarf the other commercial sectors of caterers and drinking places. It is also noteworthy that the commercial components have four times the sales volume of the non-commercial components.

Types of Food and Beverage Customers

Now that we’ve classified the sector based on business type and looked at relative performance, let’s look at F&B from another perspective: customer type. The first way to classify customers is to divide them into two key markets: residents and visitors.

The first of these, the resident group, can be further divided based on their purpose for visiting an F&B operator.  For one group, food or drink is the primary purpose for the visit. For example, think of a group of friends getting together at a local restaurant to experience their signature sandwich. For another group, food and drink is the secondary purpose, added spontaneously or as an ancillary activity. For example, think of time-crunched parents whisking their kids through a drive-through on their way from one after-school activity to the next. Here the food and beverage providers offer an expedient way to access a meal.

Figure 4.10 A visitor to Nanaimo eats a signature “Nanaimo bar” in front of a Nanaimo bar, the Jingle Pot Pub

Foodservice providers also service the visitor market, which presents unique challenges as guests will bring with them the tastes and eating habits of their home country or region. Most establishments generally follow one of two directions. One is to cater completely to visitors from the day the doors open, with an operational and market focus on tourists. The other is to cater primarily to residents.

Sometimes a local foodservice provider can continue to cater to the resident market over time. In other cases, often because of financial pressures, the business shifts its focus away from the residents to better cater to visitors’ tastes. These changes, when they do occur, generally happen over time and can lead to questions of authenticity of the local offerings (Smart, 2003; Heroux, 2002; Mak, Lumbers, Eves, & Chang, 2012).

Take a Closer Look: The Science of Addictive Food 

For some time, one secret recipe for success in the food sector, particularly the fast-food portion of the sector, was simple: salt, sugar, and fat — and lots of it. There is a science behind these additives and why consumers keep coming back to satisfy their cravings. To view a CBC special on the science of addictive food, visitThe science of Addictive Food:

It is clear that the food and beverage sector must remain responsive to consumers’ needs and desires. This is made evident by the emergence of health-concious eating in North America over the last two decades. The influence of books such as Fast Food Nation (Schlosser, 2012) and documentaries such as Super Size Me have created mainstream awareness about what goes into our food and our bodies. As many developed nations, including Canada, struggle with health-care concerns including hypertension, diabetes, and obesity, food operators are taking note and developing new health-conscious menus. Programs like BC’s Informed Dining initiative are helping consumers understand their options (see the Spotlight On below).

Spotlight On: Informed Dining

The Informed Dining program was created by Healthy Families BC to help consumers gain a better understanding of the ingredients in their food and their role in daily healthy eating habits and guidelines. For more information, visit the Informed Dining webpage:

This awareness, coupled with an increasing interest and desire for more authentic foods produced without using herbicides and pesticides, free of genetically modified ingredients, and even free of carbohydrates or gluten, has placed pressure on the sector to respond, and many have (Frash, DiPietro, & Smith, 2014). Consumers are more aware of the plight of farmers and producers from faraway places and the support for fair trade practices. At the same time, there is a heightened desire for more locally grown products, and a general awareness of nutrition and the quality of products that are harvested in season and closer to home.

Take a Closer Look: Cittaslow Designation for Cowichan Bay

The community of Cowichan Bay on Vancouver Island was awarded the Cittaslow Designation, which helps acknowledge its focus on sustainable practices and local food harvesting best practice. For more information on the designation and community efforts, watch the video, Cittaslow Cowichan Bay:

Consumer consciousness regarding the source and distribution of food has created a movement that champions sustainable and locally grown foods. While this trend does have its extremes, it is founded on the premise that eating food that has been produced nearby leads to better food quality, sustainable food production processes, and increased enjoyment. This has led to a number of restaurants that incorporate these concepts in their menu planning and marketing.

In addition to this trend toward “conscious consumerism” (LinkBC, 2014, p.4), F&B professionals must be highly aware of the importance of special diets including gluten-free, low-carb, and other dietary restrictions (LinkBC, 2014).

All of these influences are continuously shaping the food and beverage sector. Before we explore additional trends and issues in the sector, let’s review the core considerations for profitability in foodservice operations.

Fresh fruits and vegetables and a sign saying, "BC Association of Farmers' Markets"
Figure 4.11 Officials announce more funding for BC farmers markets, which have become increasingly popular due to changing consumer tastes


While many factors influence the profitability of foodservice operations, key considerations include type of business, location, cost control and profit margin, sales and marketing strategies, and human resources management. We’ve already examined the different types of operation, and their relative profit margins. Let’s look at the other profitability considerations in more detail.


The selection of the correct location for a restaurant is often cited as the most critical factor in an operation’s success (or failure) in terms of profitability. Prior to opening, site analysis is required to determine the amount of traffic (foot traffic and vehicle traffic), proximity to competing businesses, visibility to patrons, accessibility, and presence (or absence) of desired patrons (Ontario Restaurant News, 1995).

Cost Control

According to Restaurants Canada, QSRs have the highest profit margin at 5.1%, while full-service restaurants have a margin of 3.5%. There will be significant variances from these percentages at individual locations even within the same brand (2014b).

2012 Financial operating ratios. Long description available.
Figure 4.12 Operating ratios for Canadian food and beverage businesses in 2012 [Long Description]

A number of costs influence the profitability of an F&B operation. Some of the key operating expenses (as a percentage of revenue) are detailed in Figure 4.12, above, where food cost and salaries & wages are the two major expenses, each accounting for approximately a third of the total. Other expenses include rental and leasing of venue, utilities, advertising, and depreciation of assets. These percentages represent averages, and will vary greatly by sector and location.

Cost control and containment is essential for all F&B businesses. Demanding particular attention are the labour, food, and beverage costs, also known as the operator’s primary costs. In addition to these big ticket items, there is the cost of reusable operating supplies such as cutlery, glassware, china, and linen in full-service restaurants.

Given that most operations have both a service side (interacting directly with the consumer) and production side (preparing food or drink to be consumed), the primary costs incurred during these activities often determine the feasibility or success of the operation. This is especially true as the main product (e.g., food and drink) is perishable; ordering the correct amount requires skill and experience.

Take a Closer Look: Survey of Service Industries — Foodservices and Drinking Places

The Statistics Canada Survey of Service Industries series features an in-depth look at the food and beverage sector. Data used in this chapter (and much more) can be found in this comprehensive overview. To explore the survey, visit the Survey of Service Industries:

Sales and Marketing

The two principal considerations for sales and marketing in this sector are market share and revenue maximization. Most F&B operations are constrained by finite time and space, so management must constantly seek ways to increase revenue from the existing operation, or increase the share of the available market. Examples of revenue maximization include upselling existing consumers (e.g., asking if they want fries with their meal; offering dessert), and using outdoor or patio space (even using rain covers and heaters to extend the outdoor season). Examples of increasing market share in the fast-food sector include extending special offers to new, first-time customers through social media or targeted direct mail.

In today’s cluttered marketplace, being noticed is a constant goal for most companies. Converting that awareness into patronage is a challenge for most operators. Restaurant reviews have been a part of the food and beverage sector for a long time. With the increase of online reviews by customers at sites like Yelp, Urbanspoon, and TripAdvisor, and sharing of experiences via social media, food and beverage operators are becoming increasingly aware of their web presence (Kwok & Yu, 2013). For this reason, all major food and beverage operators carefully monitor their online reputation and their social media presence.

Take a Closer Look: McDonald’s Social Media Conversation

In 2014, McDonald’s Restaurants took to the internet to answer questions about their food production and ingredients. After months of declining sales, their strategy was to create more emotional engagement with customers and to gain their trust (Passikoff, 2014). To read more about the initiative, read the article in Forbes magazine, “McDonald’s Hopes New Social Media Question-And-Answer Will Modify Food Image”:

One of the keys to a strong reputation, both in person, and online, is the management of human resources.

Staffing and Human Resources

Figure 4.13 Winner of Top Chef Canada Matthew Stowe and patron at a new Cactus Club restaurant opening

Appropriately staffing an F&B operation involves attracting the right people, hiring them, training them, and then assigning them to the right tasks for their skills and abilities. Many businesses operate outside the traditional workweek hours; indeed, some operate on a 24-hour schedule. Creating the right team, employing them in accordance with legal guidelines, and keeping up with the demands of the businesses are challenges that can be addressed by a well-thought-out and implemented human resources plan.

People who have long-lasting careers in the sector find the fluctuating conditions appealing; no two days are the same, and the fast-paced and energetic social environment can be motivating. Many positions provide meaningful rewards and compensation that can lead to long-term careers.

One topic of discussion in food and beverage human resources is that of gratuities (tipping). In Canada, restaurants are obligated to pay staff minimum wage, and gratuities are paid by the customer as an expression of their gratitude for service. This is not the model in countries like Australia, where service staff are paid a higher professional wage and prices are raised to accommodate this.

Take a Closer Look: Tipping and Its Alternatives

In 2008, Michael Lynn and Glenn Withiam wrote a paper discussing the role of tipping and potential alternatives. While the paper focuses particularly on the United States (where wages are structured differently from Canada), it raises some good questions about consumer preference and impact on businesses (Lynn & Withiam, 2008). For instance, do tips actually improve service? These questions can apply to food and beverage businesses but also other tourism operations within the service context. It also offers some suggestions for further research. Read this paper at “Tipping and Its Alternatives”:

In British Columbia, tips are considered income for tax purposes but are not considered wages as they are not paid by the employer to the employee. A restaurant owner cannot use tips to cover business expenses (e.g., require an employee to use his or her tips to cover the cost of broken glassware). Employers are also not permitted to charge staff for the cost of diners who do not pay (known as a dine-and-dash). They can, however, require front-of-house staff pool their gratuities, or pay individually, to ensure back-of-house staff receive a percentage of the tips (British Columbia Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training, n.d.). This is also commonly known as a tip-out.

There have been experiments with gratuity models in recent years. One example is a restaurant on Vancouver Island, which tried an all-inclusive pricing model upon opening in 2014, but reverted three months later to the traditional tipping model due to consumer demand and resistance to higher prices (Duffy, 2014).

Trends and Issues

In addition to having to focus on the changing needs of guests and the specific challenges of their own businesses, food and beverage operators must deal with trends and issues that affect the entire industry. Let’s take a closer look at these.

Government Influence

Each level of government affects the sector in different ways. The federal government and its agencies have influence through income tax rates, costs of employee benefits (e.g., employer share of Canada Pension Plan and Employment Insurance deductions), and support for specific agricultural producers such as Canadian dairy and poultry farmers, which can lead to an increase in the price of ingredients such as milk, cheese, butter, eggs, and chicken compared to US prices (Findlay, 2014; Chapman, 1994).

Provincial governments also impact the food and beverage sector, in particular with respect to employment standards; minimum wage; sales taxes (except Alberta); liquor, wine, and beer wholesale pricing (Smith, 2015); and corporate income tax rates.

Municipal governments have an ever-increasing impact through property and business taxes, non-smoking bylaws, zoning and bylaw restrictions, user fees, and operating hours restrictions.

Spotlight On: Restaurants Canada

When Restaurants Canada was founded in 1944, it was known as the Canadian Restaurant Association, and later the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association. Today, the organization represents over 30,000 operations including restaurants, bars, caterers, institutions, and suppliers. It conducts and circulates industry research and offers its members cost savings on supplies, insurance, and other business expenses. For more information, visit the Restaurants Canada website:

Over time, the consequence of these government impacts has resulted in independent and chain operators alike joining forces to create a national restaurant and foodservice association now named Restaurants Canada (see Spotlight On above). At the provincial level, BC operators rely on the British Columbia Restaurant & Foodservices Association (BCRFA).

Spotlight On: BC Restaurant & Foodservices Association (BCRFA)

For more than 40 years, the BCRFA has represented the interests of the province’s foodservice operators in matters such as wages, benefits, liquor licences and other relevant matters. Today, it offers benefits to over 3,000 members on both the supply and the operator side. For more information, visit the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association website:

Health and Safety

A sign saying, "Employees Must Wash Hands Before Returning to Work."
Figure 4.14 A sign in a Starbucks location encouraging staff to wash their hands to prevent the spread of germs

Food and beverage providers hold a distinct position within our society; they invite the public to consume their offerings, both on and off premise. In doing so, all food and beverage operators must adhere to standardized public safety regulations. Each province has regulations and legislation that apply in their jurisdiction. In BC, this is addressed by the FoodSafe and Serving It Right programs, and compliance with the Occupiers Liability Act. These regulations and legislation are enacted in the interest of public health and safety.

Take a Closer Look: Health and Safety Training

Food and beverage professionals are strongly encouraged to take both FoodSafe and Serving It Right courses. These certifications are necessary to advance into specific and leadership roles in the industry. For instance, Serving It Right is required by all licensees, managers, sales staff, and servers in licensed establishments. In addition, individuals may require Serving It Right for a special occasion licence. To sign up for an online program or course near you, visit FoodSafe: and Serving It Right:

FoodSafe is the provincial food safety training program designed for the foodservice industry (FoodSafe, 2009). Serving It Right is a mandatory course that is completed through self-study, and is required for anyone serving alcohol in a commercial setting. Its goal is to ensure that licensees, managers, and servers know their legal responsibilities and understand techniques to prevent over-service and related issues (go2HR, 2014).

In broad terms, BC’s Occupiers Liability Act covers the responsibilities of the occupier of a property to ensure the safety of visitors. Additional local health bylaws set standards of operation for health and safety under the direction of the medical officers of health. Public health inspectors regularly visit food and beverage operations to evaluate compliance. In some communities, these inspection results are posted online.

Collectively, the food and beverage industry in BC has an excellent reputation for ensuring the health and safety of its patrons, the general public, and its employees.

Technology Trends

Technology continues to play an ever-increasing role in the sector. It is most noticeable in QSRs where many functions are automated in both the front of house and back of house. In the kitchen, temperature sensors and alarms determine when fries are ready and notify kitchen staff. Out front, remote printers or special screens ensure the kitchen is immediately notified when a server rings in a purchase. WiFi enables credit/debit card hand-held devices to be brought directly to the table to process transactions, saving steps back to the serving station.

Other trends include automated services such as that offered by Open Table, which provides restaurants with an online real-time restaurant reservation system so customers can make reservations without speaking to anyone at the restaurant (Open Table, 2015). And now smartphone apps will tell customers what restaurants are nearby or where their favourite chain restaurant is located.

Take a Closer Look: Automated Cooking in Asia

In Singapore Changi Airport, a quick-service restaurant is using automated woks. The cook adds the ingredients and can attend to other duties until the item is ready for service. Check out a video of a cook using an automated wok: And in China, watch a video of robots that are shaving noodles “by hand.”:

Changing Venues

The following trends relate to the changing nature of food and beverage venues, including the emerging importance of the third space, and the increased mainstream presence of non-permanent locations such as street vendors and pop-up restaurants.

The Third Space

The third space is a concept that describes locations where customers congregate that are neither home (the first space) nor work or school (the second space). Many attribute the emergence of these spaces to the popularity of coffee shops such as Starbucks. In the third space, operators must create a comfortable venue for customers to “hang out” with comfortable seating, grab and go F&B options, WiFi, and a relaxed ambiance. Providing these components has been shown as a way to increase traffic and customer loyalty (Mogelonski, 2014).

Taking It to the Street

Street food has always been a component of the foodservice industry in most big cities. These operations are often run by a single owner/operator or with minimal staff, and serve hot food that can be eaten while standing. According to research firm IBISWorld, in 2011 the “street food business — which includes mobile food trucks and non mechanized carts, is a $1 billion industry that has seen an 8.4 percent growth rate from 2007 to 2012″ (Entrepreneur, 2011) with 78% of owners having no more than four employees. 

Recently, in North America, where climate and weather allow, there has been a noticeable increase in both the number and type of street food vendors. In the city of Vancouver alone there are over 100 permitted food cart businesses, searchable by an app and sortable list — and the city uses the terms street food vendor, food cart, and food truck interchangeably (City of Vancouver, 2014).

People lined up outside of two food trucks.
Figure 4.15 Tacofino (closest), Pig on the Street, and Mom’s Grilled Cheese food trucks welcome crowds to their portable kitchens in downtown Vancouver.

Pop-up restaurants have also emerged, facilitated in part by the prevalent use of social media for marketing and location identification. Pop-ups are temporary restaurants with a known expiry date, which also tend to have the following in common (Knox, 2011):

As popular they are with consumers, the ways in which pop-ups deviate from restaurants has aggravated some critics, causing Bon Appétit magazine to declare that “pop-ups are not supposed to be restaurants,” and that “pop-up restaurants are over” (Duckor, 2013). Statements like these are further evidence that food and beverage services trends are dynamic and ever-changing.


The food and beverage sector is a vibrant and multifaceted part of our society. Michael Hurst, famous restaurateur and former chair of the US National Restaurant Association, championed the idea that all guests should be received with the statement “Glad you are here” (Tripp, 1992; Marshall 2001). That statement is the perfect embodiment of what F&B is to the hospitality industry — a mix of service providers who welcome guests with open arms and take care of their most basic needs, as well as their emotional well-being.

Take a Closer Look: Michael Hurst

Michael Hurst preached to students, industry participants, and university colleagues alike, saying that “The most precious gift you can give your Guests is the gift of Friendship” (Tripp, 1992; Marshall 2001).  To learn more about this legendary character, visit In My Opinion: Michael E. Hurst [PDF]:

The social fabric of our country, its residents, and visitors will change over time, and so too will F&B. What will not change in spite of how we divide the segments — into tourists or locals — is that the sector is at its best when food and beverages are accompanied by a social element, extending from your dining companions to the front and back of the house.

So far, we have covered the transportation, accommodation, and food and beverage sectors. In the next two chapters, we’ll explore the recreation and entertainment sector, starting with recreation in Chapter 5.

Key Terms

  • Assets: items of value owned by the business and used in the production and service of the dining experience
  • Average cheque: total sales divided by number of guests served
  • Back of house: food production areas not accessible to guests and not generally visible; also known as heart of house
  • BC Restaurant & Foodservices Association (BCRFA): representing the interests of more than 3,000 of the province’s foodservice operators in matters including wages, benefits, liquor licences, and other relevant matters
  • Beverage costs: beverages sold in liquor-licensed operations; this usually only includes alcohol, but in unlicensed operations, it includes coffee, tea milk, juices, and soft drinks
  • Captured patrons: consumers with limited selection or choice of food or beverage provider given their occupation or location
  • Commercial foodservice: operations whose primary business is food and beverage
  • Cross-utilization: when a menu is created to make multiple uses of a small number of staple pantry ingredients, helping to keep food costs down
  • Dine-and-dash: the term commonly used in the industry for when a patron eats but does not pay for his or her meal
  • Ethnic restaurant: a restaurant based on the cuisine of a particular region or country, often reflecting the heritage of the head chef or owner
  • Family/casual restaurant: restaurant type that is typically open for all three meal periods, offering affordable prices and able to serve diverse tastes and accommodate large groups
  • Fine dining restaurant: licensed food and beverage establishment characterized by high-end ingredients and preparations and highly trained service staff
  • Food and beverage (F&B): type of operation primarily engaged in preparing meals, snacks, and beverages, to customer order, for immediate consumption on and off the premises
  • Food cost: price including freight charges of all food served to the guest for a price (does not include food and beverages given away, which are quality or promotion costs)
  • Food primary: a licence required to operate a restaurant whose primary business is serving food (rather than alcohol)
  • Foodie: a term (often used by the person themselves) to describe a food and beverage enthusiast
  • Front of house: public areas of the establishment; in quick-service restaurants, it includes the ordering and product serving area
  • Full-service restaurants: casual and fine dining restaurants where guests order food seated and pay after they have finished their meal
  • Liquor primary licence: the type of licence needed in BC to operate a business that is in the primary business of selling alcohol (most pubs, nightclubs, and cabarets fall into this category)
  • Non-commercial foodservice: establishments where food is served, but where the primary business is not food and beverage service
  • Operating supplies: generally includes reusable items including cutlery, glassware, china, and linen in full-service restaurants
  • Pop-up restaurants: temporary restaurants with a known expiry date hosted in an unusual location, which tend to be helmed by a well-known or up-and-coming chef and use word-of-mouth in their promotions
  • Primary costs: food, beverage, and labour costs for an F&B operation
  • Profit: the amount left when expenses (including corporate income tax) are subtracted from sales revenue
  • Quick-service restaurant (QSR): an establishment where guests pay before they eat; includes counter service, take-out, and delivery
  • Restaurants Canada: representing over 30,000 food and beverage operations including restaurants, bars, caterers, institutions, and suppliers
  • Revenue: sales dollars collected from guests
  • Third space: a term used to describe F&B outlets enjoyed as “hang out” spaces for customers where guests and service staff co-create the experience
  • Tip-out: the practice of having front-of-house staff pool their gratuities, or pay individually, to ensure back-of-house staff receive a percentage of the tips
  • Upscale casual restaurant: emerging in the 1970s, a style of restaurant that typically only serves dinner, intended to bridge the gap between fine dining and family/casual restaurants


  1. Looking at Table 4.1, what was the average volume of sales per F&B establishment in BC in 2013? What was it for Alberta? What about the national average? What might account for these differences? List at least three contributing factors.
  2. Looking at the same table, how many F&B “units” were there in BC in 2013?
  3. What are the two main classifications for food and beverage operations and which is significantly larger in terms of market share?
  4. Should gratuities be abolished in favour of all-inclusive pricing? Consider the point of view of the server, the owner, and the guest in your analysis.
  5. Think of the concept of the third space, and name two of these types of operations in your community.
  6. Have you worked in a restaurant or foodservice operation? What are the three important lessons you learned about work while there?  If you have not, interview a classmate who has experience in the field and find out what three lessons he or she would suggest.
  7. What is your favourite restaurant? What does it do so well to have become your favourite? What would you recommend it do to improve your dining experience even more?
  8. What was your all-time best restaurant dining experience? Compare and contrast this with one of your worst dining experiences. For each of these, include a description of:
    1. The food
    2. The behaviour of restaurant staff
    3. Ambiance (music, decor, temperature, comfort of chairs, lighting)
    4. The reason for your visit
    5. Your mood upon entering the establishment

Case Study: Restaurant Behaviour – Then and Now

The following story made the rounds via social media in late 2014. While the claim has not been verified, it certainly rings true for a number of F&B professionals who have experienced this phenomenon. The story is as follows:

A busy New York City restaurant kept getting bad reviews for slow service, so they hired a firm to investigate. When they compared footage from 2004 to footage from 2014, they made some pretty startling discoveries. So shocking, in fact, that they ranted about it in an anonymous post on Craigslist:

We are a popular restaurant for both locals and tourists alike. Having been in business for many years, we noticed that although the number of customers we serve on a daily basis is almost the same as ten years ago, the service seems very slow. One of the most common complaints on review sites against us and many restaurants in the area is that the service was slow and/or they needed to wait too long for a table. We’ve added more staff and cut back on the menu items but we just haven’t been able to figure it out.

We hired a firm to help us solve this mystery, and naturally the first thing they blamed it on was the employees needing more training and the kitchen staff not being up to the task of serving that many customers.

Like most restaurants in NYC we have a surveillance system, and unlike today where it’s digital, 10 years ago we still used special high capacity tapes to record all activity. At any given time we had 4 special Sony systems recording multiple cameras. We would store the footage for 90 days just in case we needed it for something.

The investigators suggested we locate some of the older tapes and analyze how the staff behaved ten years ago versus how they behave now. We went down to our storage room but we couldn’t find any tapes at all.

We did find the recording devices, and luckily for us, each device has 1 tape in it that we simply never removed when we upgraded to the new digital system!

The date stamp on the old footage was Thursday July 1, 2004. The restaurant was very busy that day. We loaded up the footage on a large monitor, and next to it on a separate monitor loaded up the footage of Thursday July 3 2014, with roughly the same amount of customers as ten years before.

We carefully looked at over 45 transactions in order to determine what has been happening:

Here’s a typical transaction from 2004:

Customers walk in. They are seated and are given menus. Out of 45 customers 3 request to be seated elsewhere.

Customers spend 8 minutes on average before closing the menu to show they are ready to order.

Waiters shows up almost instantly and takes the order.

Appetizers are fired within 6 minutes; obviously the more complex items take longer.

Out of 45 customers 2 sent their items back.

Waiters keep an eye on their tables so they can respond quickly if the customer needs something.

After guests are done, the check is delivered, and within 5 minutes they leave.

Average time from start to finish: 1 hour, 5 minutes.

Here’s what happened in 2014:

Customers walk in. Customers get seated and are given menus, and out of 45 customers 18 request to be seated elsewhere.

Before even opening the menu most customers take their phones out, some are taking photos while others are texting or browsing.

Seven of the 45 customers had waiters come over right away, they showed them something on their phone and spent an average of five minutes of the waiter’s time. Given this is recent footage, we asked the waiters about this and they explained those customers had a problem connecting to the WIFI and demanded the waiters try to help them.

After a few minutes of letting the customers review the menu, waiters return to their tables. The majority of customers have not even opened their menus and ask the waiter to wait a bit.

When customers do open their menus, many place their phones on top and continue using their activities.

Waiters return to see if they are ready to order or have any questions. Most customers ask for more time.

Finally a table is ready to order. Total average time from when a customer is seated until they place their order is 21 minutes.

Food starts getting delivered within 6 minutes; obviously the more complex items take way longer.

26 out of 45 customers spend an average of 3 minutes taking photos of the food.

14 out of 45 customers take pictures of each other with the food in front of them or as they are eating the food. This takes on average another 4 minutes as they must review and sometimes retake the photo.

9 out of 45 customers sent their food back to reheat. Obviously if they didn’t pause to do whatever on their phone the food wouldn’t have gotten cold.

27 out of 45 customers asked their waiter to take a group photo. 14 of those requested the waiter retake the photo as they were not pleased with the first photo. On average this entire process between the chit chatting and reviewing the photo taken added another 5 minutes and obviously caused the waiter not to be able to take care of other tables he/she was serving.

Given in most cases the customers are constantly busy on their phones it took an average of 20 more minutes from when they were done eating until they requested a check.

Furthermore once the check was delivered it took 15 minutes longer than 10 years ago for them to pay and leave.

8 out of 45 customers bumped into other customers or in one case a waiter (texting while walking) as they were either walking in or out of the restaurant.

Average time from start to finish: 1:55

We are grateful for everyone who comes into our restaurant, after all there are so many choices out there. But can you please be a bit more considerate?

Now it’s your turn. Imagine you are the restaurant operator in question, and answer the questions below.

  1. What could you, as the owner, try to do to improve the turnover time? Come up with at least three ideas.
  2. Now put yourself in the position of a server. Do your ideas still work from this perspective?
  3. Lastly, look at your typical customer. How will he or she respond to your proposals?


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Figure 4.1 Foodservice Share of Total FoodDollars by LinkBC is used under a CC-BY-NC 2.0 license.

Figure 4.2 Profit Margins for Restaurants by Province by LinkBC is used under a CC-BY-NC 2.0 license.

Figure 4.3 The Keg at the Station by Jon the Happy Web Creative is used under a CC BY 2.0 license.

Figure 4.4 North Arm Farm Strawberry  + Rhubarb Pavlova by Ruth Hartnup is used under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

Figure 4.5  The old spaghetti factory by Isabelle Puaut is used under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

Figure 4.6 Vij’s by jan zeschky is used under a CC-BY-NC 2.0 license.

Figure 4.7 Dîner en Blanc Vancouver 2012 by Maurice Li Photography is used under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

Figure 4.8 Six Mile by Alan Levine is used under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

Figure 4.9 Market Share by Restaurant Segment by LinkBC is used under a CC-BY-NC 2.0 license.

Figure 4.10 Life goal #5 complete by Brett Ohland is used under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.

Figure 4.11 New funding for farmers’ market program by Province of British Columbia is used under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

Figure 4.12 Operating Ratios for Canadian Foodservice Businesses by LinkBC is used under a CC-BY-NC 2.0 license.

Figure 4.13 Cactus Club Cafe by Mack Male used under CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

Figure 4.14 must wash hands by Ambernectar13 is used under CC BY-ND 2.0 license.

Figure 4.15 Vancouver food carts on a sunny day by Christopher Porter is used under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

Long Descriptions

Figure 4.1 long description: Foodservice spending as a percentage of total food dollars spent in Canada and the US
Country 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Percentage of food money spent on foodservices by Americans 46.4% 46.7% 47.5% 47.9% 46.7% 47.5% 47.9% 48% 48% 49% 49% 48% 47% 47.6% 47%
Percentage of food money spent on foodservices by Canadians 40.2% 40.0% 39.2% 39.3% 39.1% 39.2% 38.8% 38.4% 37.0% 36.7% 36.7% 37.3% 37.7% 38.2% 38.5%

[Return to Figure 4.1]

Figure 4.2 long description: Pre-Tax Profit Margins, 2012 by Province
Province Pre-Tax profit margin
Manitoba 7.9%
Alberta 7.1%
Saskatchewan 7.0%
Newfoundland and Labrador 6.7%
Prince Edward Island 5.7%
New Brunswick 5.2%
Nova Scotia 5.2%
Canada 4.2%
Quebec 3.9%
British Columbia 3.4%
Ontario 2.8%

[Return to Figure 4.2]

Figure 4.9 long description: Market Share by Restaurant Segment
Quick Service Restaurants Family/Midscale Casual Dining Fine Dining Retail
Share of Traffic 64.5% 13.2% 10.1% 0.7% 11.5%
Share of Dollars 45.8% 20.6% 22.5% 4.2% 6.9%

[Return to Figure 4.9]

Figure 4.12 long description: 2012 Financial Operating Ratios (as a percentage of operating revenue)
Expense Percentage of operating revenue
Cost of Sales 35.6%
Salaries and wages 33.7%
Other 7.9%
Rental and Leasing 7.6%
Pre-Tax profit 4.2%
Depreciation 3.0%
Advertising 2.8%
Utilities 2.7%
Repair and Maintenance 2.5%

[Return to Figure 4.12]


Chapter 5. Recreation

Don Webster

Learning Objectives

  • Differentiate between recreation, outdoor recreation, adventure tourism, and nature-based tourism
  • Describe the significance, size, and economic contribution of this sector to the overall tourism industry in BC
  • Identify key industry organizations in recreation, outdoor recreation, and adventure tourism
  • Classify different subsectors of recreation, outdoor recreation, and adventure tourism
  • Recognize the unique challenges facing recreation, outdoor recreation, and adventure tourism in BC


In this chapter, we discuss the concept of recreation in tourism and hospitality. Recreation can be defined as the pursuit of leisure activities during one’s spare time (Tribe, 2011) and can include vastly different activities such as golfing, sport fishing, and rock climbing. Defining recreation as it pertains to tourism, however, is more challenging.

Two people climb a rock face.
Figure 5.1 Climbers in Squamish, BC

Let’s start by exploring some recreation-based terms that are common in the tourism industry. Outdoor recreation can be defined as “outdoor activities that take place in a natural setting, as opposed to a highly cultivated or managed landscape such as a playing field or golf course” (Tourism BC, 2013, p. 47).  This term is typically applied to outdoor activities that individuals engage in and that are located close to their community. When these activities are further away, and people must travel some distance to participate in them, they are often described as adventure tourism.

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), adventure tourism is “a trip that includes at least two of the following three elements: physical activity, natural environment, and cultural immersion” (UNWTO, 2014, p.12).  Examples of adventure tourism in BC include river rafting, helicopter skiing, and rock climbing.

Take a Closer Look: UNWTO Global Report 

The Global Report on Adventure Tourism by UNWTO offers an in-depth analysis of the global adventure travel sector. It can be found at

Adventure tourism can be “soft” or “hard.” Differentiating between the two is somewhat subjective, but is loosely based on the level of experience required, the level of fitness required, and the degree to which the participant is exposed to risk (UNWTO, 2014).  Examples of soft adventure include wildlife viewing or moderate hiking, whereas river rafting or rock climbing would usually be considered hard adventure.

Another term that is used, one that overlaps with the definitions of outdoor recreation and adventure tourism, is nature-based tourism, which refers to “those tourism experiences that are directly or indirectly dependent on the natural environment” (Tourism BC, 2005b, p.6).  This term is often used to describe activities that are closely connected to nature, such as whale watching, birding, or self-propelled travel such as hiking and kayaking.

As you can see, there are challenges in classifying recreation in tourism. For instance, if people kayak near their home or community, it may be considered outdoor recreation. If they travel afar for that same activity, it likely is designated as adventure tourism. If the kayaking is done in protected, mild conditions, it would be considered soft adventure, but if done in a challenging and risky river descent, it may be classified as hard adventure.

Of course, each of the above scenarios of kayaking could be considered nature-based tourism if it is strongly linked to the natural environment. Ultimately, categorization is based on a combination of several factors, including manner of engagement in the activity (risk exposure, experience requirement, group or solo activity), the distance travelled to access the activity, and the type of environment (proximity to nature, level of challenge involved) that that the activity occurs in.

A 2013 adventure tourism market study discovered that people who travel for adventure experiences tend to be well-educated, with 48% holding a four-year degree or higher credential. They value natural beauty and rank this as the highest factor when choosing a destination, and the most cited reasons for their travel are relaxation “relaxation, exploring new places, time with family, and learning about different cultures” (UNWTO, 2014, p.15).

Globally, it is estimated that the continents of Europe, North America, and South America account for 69% of adventure tourism, or US$263 billion in adventure travel spending. Adventure tourists tend to be seen as high-value visitors, with as much of 70% of their expenditures remaining in the communities visited (UNWTO, 2014).

The size, extent, and economic contribution of recreation, outdoor recreation, and adventure tourism in British Columbia is also substantial. The rest of this chapter explores the sector in the province in more detail.

Recreation and Adventure Tourism in BC

Studies have shown that nearly all residents of BC partake in some kind of outdoor recreation activity during any given year. Approximately 85% of those participants indicate that these recreational activities were very important to them (Tourism BC, 2013).

Spotlight On: Outdoor Recreation Council of BC

The Outdoor Recreation Council of BC (ORC) describes itself as “promoting access to and responsible use of BC’s public lands and waters for public outdoor recreation” (Outdoor Recreation Council of BC, 2014). The Council promotes the benefits of outdoor recreation, represents the community to government and the general public, advocates and educates about responsible land use, provides a forum for exchanging information, and connects different outdoor recreation groups. For more information, visit the Outdoor Recreation Council of BC website:

A lake bordering bare mountain. A boat moves across the middle of the lake.
Figure 5.2 Joffre Lake Provincial Park, where adventure tourists access secluded camping spots by carrying (or boating) in their gear

It is estimated that there are approximately 2,200 outdoor/adventure tourism operators in BC. In 2001, this accounted for 21,000 jobs and $556 million in direct wages. The last sector-wide study in 2005 estimated that business revenues in outdoor adventure tourism accounted for approximately $854 million in annual business revenues (Tourism BC, 2013). Given the growth of adventure tourism over the last decade, it is likely these numbers have risen.

Additionally, in the current five-year provincial tourism strategy, entitled Gaining the Edge, outdoor/adventure tourism is indicated as one of six key areas targeted for growth (British Columbia Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation, 2012). This government support, combined with the rapid growth of the outdoor and adventure tourism industry, point to a strong future for this sector.

Take a Closer Look: Outdoor Adventure Sector Profile

Outdoor Adventure: Tourism Sector Profile, a report produced by Destination BC, includes information on the size, type, and characteristics of tourism companies in this sector. Also included is market demand for these activities and future challenges the sector faces. You can find the report at Outdoor Tourism Sector Profile [PDF]:,-May-2014/Tourism-Sector-Profile_OutdoorAdventure_May2014.pdf.aspx

This section covers two key types of recreation and tourism, with a focus on British Columbia:

  1. Land-based recreation and tourism
  2. Water-based recreation and tourism

It’s not possible to detail all the recreational activities available in BC, but by the end of this section, you will have an understanding of the key unique activities available in the province.

Land-Based Recreation and Tourism

Golf Courses and Resorts

A 2009 economic impact study found that more than six million Canadians participate in the game of golf each year, making this sport the number one outdoor recreational activity in Canada based on participation. Golf also directly employs more than 155,000 people and contributes more than $11 billion directly to Canada’s gross domestic product. BC has over 300 golf course facilities, and with over $2 billion annually in direct economic activity, the golfing industry in the province is the fourth largest in Canada (Strategic Networks Inc., 2009).

Golf is a significant tourism attraction in BC; in 2007 the province was chosen as the “Best Golf Course Destination in North America” by the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (Destination BC, 2014c).  Part of the draw is the diverse environment; golfers can choose from lush coastal forests to desert environments, and many courses have a viewscape of mountains or the ocean.

A 2006 study by the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) detailed both demographic and economic factors related to the Canadian golf industry. Significant findings included that there were more than 3.4 million golf travellers in Canada annually, and that of those travellers, approximately 34% travelled to BC. In addition, the Canadian golf participation rate (for the total Canadian population) was 21.5%, which is among the highest golf participation rates of any country in the world. Golfing provides an opportunity to attract significant tourism revenue as the average golf traveller has a much higher than average income level, with up to 50% of all golf travellers earning $100,000 or more per annum (Tourism BC, 2009b).

Spotlight On: British Columbia Golf Marketing Alliance

The British Columbia Golf Marketing Alliance is a strategic alliance that represents 58 regional and destination golf resorts in BC. The purpose of the alliance is to grow the game of golf in BC and achieve recognition nationally and internationally as a leading golf destination. The alliance supports and distributes information about research, lobbying efforts, and golf industry events. For more information, visit the Allied Golf Association of BC website:

Mountain Resorts and Nordic Centres

Resorts in British Columbia range from smaller eco-lodges to large ski areas. Mountain resorts and nordic centres are part of the larger resort tourism sector, which in 2004 was valued at $1.9 billion (Tourism BC, 2011c).

Figure 5.3 A man stands ready to ski down Blackcomb mountain in Whistler, BC

Ski/Snowboard Mountain Resorts

BC’s many world-class facilities and high-quality snow conditions provide mass appeal for downhill skiing and snowboarding. Mountain resorts in BC can be separated into two principal categories: destination resorts and regional resorts. Destination mountain resorts are often significantly larger and offer a greater range of amenities such as on mountain accommodation and food services; they are also generally marketed to out-of-area and international visitors. Examples of a destination resort would include Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort. On the other hand, regional mountain resorts are usually smaller in size and capacity, have fewer amenities, and often cater more directly to the local community (Tourism BC, 2011c) such as Whitewater Ski Resort in the Kootenay Rockies.

Spotlight On: Canada West Ski Areas Association

Ski areas in Western Canada (Alberta and BC) are represented by the Canada West Ski Areas Association (CWSAA), which has a diverse mandate that includes marketing, advocacy, environmental stewardship, and risk management. For more information, visit the Canada West Ski Areas Association website:

The aggregate economic value of destination mountain resorts is significant; one study by Tourism BC found that 13 of these resorts were responsible for generating approximately 1.1 billion in revenue, or 8% of the total provincial tourism revenues in 2008. Additionally, they provided the equivalent of 14,267 full-time equivalent jobs (Tourism BC, 2011c). Furthermore, BC’s top mountain resorts have received many prestigious awards (Tourism BC, 2011c, p. 11):

The publicity that these resorts receive has undoubtedly reflected positively on the rest of the BC tourism industry.

Spotlight On: “Ski It to Believe It”

Destination BC offers a specific mountain resort marketing website for 13 destination resorts in BC called “Ski It to Believe It.” The site features live updates on snow conditions, resort info, a map featuring all BC ski destinations, blogs, and dynamic content featuring visitors enjoying various skiing experiences including heli, cat, backcountry, and downhill skiing. For more information, visit the Ski It to Believe It website:

Nordic Centres

Nordic skiing, also commonly known as cross-country skiing, is a low-risk, low-impact winter sport popular across Canada. It differs from backcountry skiing in that participants ski on groomed trails typically maintained as part of an established facility (Cross Country BC, n.d.).

Spotlight On: Whistler Sport Legacies

Leading up to the 2010 Winter Olympics held in Vancouver and Whistler, there was much debate about the need for a continuing legacy from the event. Whistler Sport Legacies is an example of a recreational, tourism, and sport legacy that can emerge out of a mega event such as the Olympics. For more information, visit the Whistler Sport Legacies website:

With more than 50 cross-country ski centres across BC, and a season that often exceeds that of downhill skiing (November to May in many areas), the sport attracts large numbers of local and inbound recreation enthusiasts. Trail networks have been developed in both stand-alone environments, as well as in partnership with large mountain resorts such as Silver Star in Vernon, Sun Peaks in Kamloops, Cypress Mountain above Vancouver, and Rossland in the Kootenays. Many of these trail networks offer both groomed and track-set trails, a number are lit for night skiing.

Spotlight On: Silver Star’s Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre

Located just outside Vernon, Sovereign Lake is Canada’s largest daily groomed trail network that includes 105 kilometres of trails varying from green (easy) to black diamond (most difficult); a further trail expansion is planned for 2015. For more information, visit Sovereign Lake’s website:

Backcountry Skiing and Snowboarding

Backcountry skiing and snowboarding offers a recreational activity in a wilderness setting, away from any established mountain resorts, lifts, or trails. BC is regarded as a world-class destination for backcountry access, and has recently seen considerable and sustained growth in this sector (Porteus, 2013). The motivator for pursuing this activity for most people is primarily the lure of fresh, untracked snow in a beautiful mountain setting. Some backcountry skiers and snowboarders combine this activity with helicopter or snowcat skiing.

Spotlight On: Backcountry Lodges Association of British Columbia

The Backcountry Lodges Association of British Columbia (BLABC) represents backcountry lodges in the province. Its consumer site features a find-a-lodge function, profiles for summer and winter lodges, the ability to check conditions in various backcountry areas, and consumer content including a blog and videos. For more information, visit the Backcountry Lodges Association of BC:

Helicopter skiing transports skiers and snowboarders by helicopter to the backcountry. It is typically a professionally guided activity, with packages ranging in duration from a single day to weeks. The skiing/snowboarding is often packaged with a luxury lodge accommodation, gourmet meals, and access to spa treatments.

Heliskiing was pioneered in Canada by Swiss mountain guide Hans Gmoser, who founded the company Canadian Mountain Holidays, which has grown to be the largest heliskiing company in the world (Canadian Mountain Holidays, n.d.).  Today, there are close to 20 helicopter skiing companies in BC, which represents the largest concentration of commercial operations in the world (HeliCat Canada, n.d.).

Snowcat skiing is alpine skiing accessed by travelling to the top of the ski area in a snowcat (an enclosed cab vehicle on tracks). As with heliskiing, this activity also has its commercial roots in BC. Snowcat skiing was pioneered in 1975 by Selkirk Wilderness Skiing as an alternative to both lift-serviced and helicopter-accessed riding and skiing (Selkirk Wilderness Skiing, n.d.).  It is typically a guided activity due to the avalanche risk associated with the terrain. As with heliskiing, snowcat skiers have the option of choosing single-day or multi-day vacation packages. During the winter of 2015, there were 11 established snowcat skiing operations in BC (HeliCat Canada, n.d.).

Spotlight On: Avalanche Canada

This organization provides public avalanche forecasts and education for any backcountry travellers venturing into avalanche terrain. This vital service is provided to the public free of charge, as Avalanche Canada is a not-for-profit society dedicated to a vision of eliminating avalanche injuries and fatalities in Canada. In addition to the website, it provides training programs and shares safety best practice. For more information, visit Avalance Canada:

Guides for these operations are typically certified by either the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) or the Canadian Ski Guide Association (CSGA).  Both organizations assess the guides for their expertise in technical skills, avalanche forecasting, risk management and emergency response before issuing certification. The process is extensive and rigorous, taking much time and commitment for guides to become fully certified.

Spotlight On: HeliCat Canada  

Based in Revelstoke, BC, HeliCat Canada is an industry organization that represents heliskiing and snowcat skiing operators in Canada.  It provides regulation, advocacy, and marketing for the operators. Since 1978, the organization has worked closely with government and industry to develop operations guidelines. For more information, visit Helicat Canada:

Off-Road Recreational Vehicles

An off-road recreational vehicle (ORV) is any vehicle designed to be driven off road that is not included within any other vehicle classification framework. This includes snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), and dirt bikes (British Columbia Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, 2014). ORV use is recognized as a considerable contributor to the BC economy, owing primarily to recreational users, but also from tourist visits.

I line of snowmobiles.
Figure 5.4 Snowmobiles ready for their riders near Golden, BC

Recreational snowmobiling in BC is represented by the British Columbia Snowmobile Federation (BCSF). The BCSF’s mandate is to represent recreational snowmobile clubs through advocacy, education, and stewardship (BCSF, n.d.). Commercial snowmobiling is represented by the British Columbia Commercial Snowmobile Operators Association (BCCSOA), a group of snowmobile tour operators who have mobilized to support marketing, product development, and government advocacy initiatives (BCCSOA, n.d.).

ORV use has long been the subject of conflict between non-motorized and motorized recreational users of the wilderness. Non-motorized users claim that motorized users negatively impact the wilderness through noise pollution and environmental damage by degrading trails and scaring wildlife (Webster, 2013).  Recently, wilderness tourism operators who hold Crown land tenure to operate in remote areas have complained that ORVs negatively affect their visitors’ experiences. Some of these conflicts may now be mitigated through the implementation of the Off-Road Vehicle Act, which was passed in 2014.  This Act requires mandatory registration of ORVs, and includes elements that promote safety, enforcement of regulations, education, and outreach (British Columbia Ministry Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, 2014).

Guest Ranchers and Hunting Outfitters

Guest and Dude Ranches

Guest ranches and dude ranches offer personal and home-like vacation experiences centered on horseback riding and an authentic ranch experience. These operators typically offer accommodation in a ranch-type environment, and include as part of the experience the opportunity to participate in ranch activities such as horse riding and cattle wrangling. Other services and activities may also be available, such as spa treatments, hiking, canoeing, and fishing (BC Guest Ranchers Association, n.d.).

Spotlight On: The British Columbia Guest Ranchers Association

The British Columbia Guest Ranchers Association (BCGRA) represents guest and dude ranch operators in the province. It serves and represents its members through cooperative marketing, advertising, development of operational standards, and member pricing on liability insurance plans (BCGRA, n.d.). For more information, visit the British Columbia Guest Ranchers Association website:

A 2011 study of guest ranches by Tourism BC found that there were 57 operating ranches in the province. Most of these were small operations with one to five employees and serving fewer than 1,000 clients per year (Tourism BC, 2011a). There are also large operations such as the Hills Health Guest Ranch located near 100 Mile House, which can accommodate hundreds of guests at one time. The ranch features a full on-site spa and two dining rooms, and hosts a multitude of special events each year. Two other examples of unique guest ranch operations are the Siwash Lake Ranch in south-central BC, a “high-end” exclusive resort featuring executive-chef prepared meals, and the Echo Valley Ranch and Spa in the BC interior, offering an alternative therapy spa and gold-panning excursions.

Hunting Outfitters

Hunting is a traditional recreational activity in BC, and it is also one of the original tourism products in the province (GOABC, n.d.). BC is fortunate to have a vast amount of wilderness available for hunting activities.  The exact size of the hunting market is difficult to quantify, but in 2003, a study found that 5,000 non-resident hunting licences were sold in BC, contributing $46 million to the provincial economy (CTC, 2012).

Some people choose self-guided hunting activities, but to hunt certain species, a guide outfitter must be hired. Guide outfitters are licensed by the BC Government to provide commercial hunting services for non-residents. This commercial hunt service directly employs more than 2,000 BC residents and generates approximately $116 million in economic activity annually (GOABC, n.d.). Many of these outfitters are small family operations  based in rural areas; they are a source valuable economic activity in areas with limited resources (GOABC, n.d.).

Spotlight On: Guide Outfitters Association of BC

Guide Outfitters Association of BC (GOABC) was established in 1966 to promote and preserve the interests of guide outfitters who take hunters out into wildlife habitat. GOABC is also the publisher of Mountain Hunter magazine. Its website outlines a code of conduct and standards for guide outfitters as well as a wildlife DNA collection program to help provide insight into animal populations. For more information, visit the Guide Outfitters Association of BC website:


Cycling is a popular recreational activity in BC thanks to a variety of terrain, spectacular scenery, and favourable weather conditions, with approximately 44% of residents participating each year (Tourism BC, 2013). Cycling also attracts out-of-province visitors. One study from 2008 reported that out of 5.6 million Canadians who travelled to BC over a two-year period, almost one million (17%) had participated in a cycling activity (Tourism BC, 2009).

Spotlight On: Cycling Destinations

Several BC destinations have developed cycling as a key tourism product. For example, the Salt Spring Island group Island Pathways helped make the island more bike-friendly in recent years by installing bike racks, developing a map with bike routes, encouraging local transportation to accommodate bikes, and establishing local bike rentals and service. For more information, visit Salt Spring Island Cycling:

Another great example of cycling tourism is the Kettle Valley Railway in the Okanagan, built on an abandoned railbed. This 600-kilometre trail network includes a multitude of tunnels and trestles, and is most often travelled by cycling. Sections of the trail system are also now included in the Trans Canada Trail. For more information, visit the Kettle Valley Railway website:

Cycling can be generalized into two styles: road cycling and mountain biking.

Road cycling appeals to those who want to travel on paved roads on bikes designed for travelling long distances efficiently and effectively. Road cycling may refer to racing, both recreational and professional, or cycle touring, where cyclists travel by bike on single- or multi-day trips. Given the multitude of rolling hills, mountain passes, and stunning vistas, BC is regarded as a premier cycle touring destination (Destination BC, 2014b).

A line of bikers heading down a highway.
Figure 5.5 Cyclists in action

Mountain biking generally involves riding on unpaved routes and trails either specially designed for biking or for multipurpose use. BC’s reputation as a prime mountain biking destination has grown because of the unique array of trails available, ranging from the steep, challenging routes of Vancouver’s North Shore, to the high alpine cross-country routes found in the South Chilcotin Mountains (Tourism BC, 2011b).

Take a Closer Look: Mountain Bike Tourism

The report Tourism Essentials Guide: Mountain Bike Tourism is a valuable resource for operators or communities seeking to develop or promote mountain biking tourism in their area. It can be found at Tourism Essentials Guide: Mountain Bike Tourism [PDF]:

Over the years, mountain biking has grown from being a fringe activity to a mainstay of the tourism economy. In fact, the growth potential of mountain biking is so highly regarded that the BC Government now considers it as one of the top growth areas in the outdoor adventure sector (Tourism BC, 2011b).

Indeed, numerous mountain winter resorts such as Whistler Blackcomb, Silverstar, and Kicking Horse have developed mountain biking trail infrastructure and lift-accessed biking to provide off-season activities. World-class mountain biking races such as the Test of Metal and the BC Bike Race bring thousands of riders through small communities for mountain biking. The economic impact of these events is significant. Over the course of a single four-month season in the Sea-to-Sky Corridor in 2006 (including the communities of North Vancouver, Squamish, and Whistler), the economic contribution of mountain biking to local economies was $10.3 million (Western Canada Mountain Bike Tourism Association, 2006).

Spotlight On: Test of Metal and GranFondo 

Two major bike races bring significant visitors to the Sea-to-Sky Corridor.  The Test of Metal, held in Squamish, has sold out every year since 1998, and brings upward of 1,000 mountain bikers into the area for a one-day event each June. For more information, visit The Test of Metal: The GranFondo Whistler is a road biking race from Vancouver to Whistler that now attracts upward of 7,000 participants each year. For more information, visit The GranFondo:

Spotlight On: Western Canada Mountain Bike Tourism Association

Western Canada Mountain Bike Tourism Association (MBTA) is a not-for-profit organization working toward establishing BC, and Western Canada, as the world’s foremost mountain bike tourism destination. It has hosted a symposium on mountain bike tourism and works with Bike Parks BC to ensure terrain development. For more information, visit the Mountain Bike Tourism Association website:

Camping and Hiking

In 2012, over 19.3 million people visited BC provincial parks, including 16.8 million day visitors, many of whom used the parks for hiking and exploration in addition to picnics, swimming, and other outdoor activities. Of these visitors, 2.3 million were overnight campers, generating $15.5 million in user fees, with an average guest satisfaction rating of 82% (BC Parks, 2012). As discussed in Chapter 3, there are also a number of private camping providers in the province.

Wildlife Viewing

Given the diversity and richness of our natural environment, it is not surprising that there is a thriving wildlife viewing industry in BC. This includes whale, bird, and bear watching as well as travelling to view the northern lights or alpine flowers (CTC, 2007). One study conducted by the Canadian Tourism Commission established that within BC, approximately 37% of tourists took part in wildlife viewing while visiting. Significantly, for 13% of visitors, the primary motivation for their travel to BC was wildlife viewing (CTC, 2007).

Spotlight On: Wilderness Tourism Association of British Columbia

The Wilderness Tourism Association of British Columbia (WTA) provides industry support and advocacy for those operators offering nature-based tourism products. For more information, visit the Wilderness Tourism Association of BC website:

Whale watching occurs along the coast of BC, with tours sometimes leaving from major urban centres, but more commonly from smaller communities such as Telegraph Cove on northern Vancouver Island. Tours are typically by boat, on vessels ranging from open, 10-passenger Zodiacs, to comfortable cabin cruisers with inside seating. The most commonly observed whale is the orca, one of the province’s most distinctive animals. Other whales like the humpback, minke, and Pacific grey are also frequently encountered. The province’s vast diversity of marine life is a key attraction of the tours; in addition to whale watching, a typical tour may encounter bald eagles, sea lions, porpoises, and a variety of sea birds (Destination BC, 2014,d).

Take a Closer Look: Mammal Viewing Guidelines

Marine mammal viewing in Canada has grown in popularity to the point where the federal government has established marine wildlife viewing guidelines. These establish parameters such as safe viewing distances and time limits. For more information, visit the marine wildlife viewing guidelines:

Bear viewing — whether for black bears, grizzly bears, or the rare kermode bear — is also popular. Black bears are common across all regions of BC. Grizzly bears are more likely to be found in remote and mountainous regions; they have an estimated population in the province of approximately 16,000. Kermode bears, also called spirit bears, are a subspecies of black bears with a genetic trait that produces white fur instead of black. They are found primarily in the Great Bear Rainforest of the Central Coast, and figure prominently in the spiritual traditions of BC’s Coastal First Nations. The spirit bear is also BC’s official animal (Destination BC, 2014a).

A bear walking along the edge of a river.
Figure 5.6 A bear in Bute Inlet, BC

Tourism operators that offer bear viewing typically operate in remote regions of BC. They may utilize raised viewing areas or operate from a boat-based platform, and offer accommodation at night. The season is typically limited to May through October, with the highest chances of viewing success during the salmon spawning season in the fall.

Spotlight On: Commercial Bear Viewing Association of BC

Bear viewing is a complex activity with potential for physical risk to visitors and impacts to the bears. The Commercial Bear Viewing Association of BC (CBVA) sets standards for operators offering bear viewing. For more information, visit the Commercial Bear Viewing Association website:

Now that we’ve explored some of the key land-based tourism and recreational experiences in BC, let’s turn to the water.

Water-Based Recreation and Tourism

Water-based recreation and tourism in BC is extensive and varied. The coastline of more than 25,000 kilometres in length provides ideal opportunities for recreation and tourism (BC Adventure, n.d.).  Activities include scuba diving, boat tours, sport fishing, paddle sports, and more. Following is an overview of a few core water-based activities offered by BC tourism operators, as well as a brief description of their economic contributions and related industry organizations.

Figure 5.7 Kayakers waiting near whitewater rapids

Scuba Diving

BC waters offer scuba divers a rich diversity of marine life such as giant Pacific octopuses, wolf eels, sixgill sharks, soft corals, and cloud sponges. As well, a variety of dive sites are available, including marine parks, protected natural areas, sunken naval vessels, artificial reefs, historic wrecks, and even a submerged fuselage of a Boeing 737 airliner (Dive Industry Association of BC, n.d.).

A 2004 study conducted by the Dive Industry Association of BC found that the dive industry in BC consisted of 116 operators offering services to tourists and residents alike. The many segments of the industry include manufacturers, distributers, dive charters, dive shops, and instructional centres. The study estimated that gross revenues from this industry at $15 million, although this number failed to account for other indirect spending such as trip-related accommodation and transportation. It is likely that the actual economic value of this subsector is actually significantly larger (Ivanova, 2004).

Spotlight On: Dive Industry Association of British Columbia

Established in 2002, the Dive Industry Association of British Columbia (DIABC) is a not-for-profit that represents and supports the recreational diving industry in BC. Funded in part by matching donations from Destination BC, their diverse membership includes dive shops, tour operators, and individual dive guides. For more information, visit the Dive Industry Association of BC:

Sport Fishing and Lodges

There is a long and rich history of sport fishing in BC. Anglers are drawn to the province’s tidal waters (for salmon and halibut) and to freshwater rivers and lakes (for trout, steelhead, and sturgeon). The annual rate of recreational participation is significant; a 2009 study estimated that there are nearly 600,000 anglers (either fresh or saltwater) in any given year in BC (Tourism BC, 2009). Furthermore, non-resident anglers contributed almost $6 million by way of licensing fees, and an additional $46 million in non-fishing expenditures to the economy of BC. The British Columbia Fishing Resorts and Outfitters Association (BCFROA) represents commercial freshwater resorts and outfitters and delivers advocacy, conservation, and marketing efforts on behalf of its members (BCFROA, n.d.).

Paddle Sports

River rafting, canoeing, sea kayaking, and standup paddle boarding (SUP) are common activities for both recreationists and tourists alike in BC.  Collectively, these sports fall under the paddle sports category, which encompasses any activity that takes place in small boats propelled by paddles (Education Scotland, n.d.).  Although all paddle sports are popular recreational activities, two of the more sizable and commercially productive paddle sports subsectors are river rafting and sea kayaking.

River rafting operators can be found on many rivers across BC. Product offerings may range from a three-hour adrenaline-fuelled tour on the famous Fraser River to a 14-day wilderness exploration down the UNESCO World Heritage Tatshenshini-Alsek Rivers in northern BC.  These trips consist primarily of three types of rafting: paddle rafting, motorized rafting, and float trips (Destination BC, n.d.).

Commercial rafting in BC is represented by the British Columbia River Outfitters Association (BCROA), which acts as a regulatory and marketing organization for river rafting in the province. Guides are required to be certified at one of three levels: guide, senior guide, or trip leader.  Each river in BC that is commonly rafted has an extensive set of safety requirements called “provisions” listed by the BCROA. These provisions set out the minimum level of guide required, acceptable water levels ranges, and type of equipment needed for each river excursion (BCROA, n.d.).

Four people kneel on a raft holding paddles and wearing helmets and lifejackets.
Figure 5.8 A rafting trip with Canadian Outback Adventures and Events near Squamish, BC

A 2005 study conducted by Tourism BC identified 59 operators offering river rafting trips in the province. With an average of 5.5 employees, these operations are typically small in comparison to other industry subsectors. Collectively, however, they provided services to 216,000 customers and contributed almost $15 million in gross revenues to the BC economy in 2005. The same study also indicated that up to 75% of participants had travelled to join in the activity, indicating that they can predominantly be classified as adventure tourists (Tourism BC, 2007a).

Sea kayaking in BC has grown into a sizable recreational and commercial industry in recent years. The province is highly regarded internationally for its long coastline punctuated by many inlets and fjords. Kayaking trips may be as short as an afternoon harbour tour, or as long as a seven-day wilderness exploration to the remote regions of Vancouver Island. Noteworthy areas for sea kayakers include Pacific Rim National Park on western Vancouver Island, Johnstone Strait on northern Vancouver Island, and Gwaii Haanas National Park in Haida Gwaii.

A 2005 report entitled British Columbia’s Sea Kayaking Sector identified more than 114 operators offering rentals, instruction, day tours, or multi-day tours.  These operators reported gross revenues of approximately $14 million in 2005 (Tourism BC, 2005a).

Spotlight On: The Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of BC

Commercial operators offering tours are represented by the Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of BC (SKGABC), which represents more than 600 individual and company members working in the commercial sea kayaking industry. It provides operating standards, guide certification, advocacy, and government liaison services for its members. For more information, visit the Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of BC website:

Trends and Issues

As shown throughout this chapter, recreation, outdoor recreation, and adventure tourism play predominant roles in the tourism and hospitality industry in BC. However, there are challenges that impact the viability of this sector, as well as barriers that limit the growth. These topics are discussed briefly here.

Land Use

Access to wilderness areas for tourism operators is an ongoing challenge. Some zones across the province are set aside for recreation, such as provincial and national parks. However, when it comes to conducting commercial operations in these same places, gaining access often involves an extensive permitting process that may impose restrictions on the type of activity and the number of visitors allowed.

In addition, parks are generally limited to non-motorized activities, thus presenting barriers for tourism operators that seek to offer mechanized recreation. Operators using Crown land for commercial activities also require authorization from the provincial government; in some instances, priority may be given to resource extraction or development. The permitting process can be onerous and time consuming, which for small operators, may be a barrier to growth (Wilderness Tourism Association, 2005).

Environmental issues are discussed in detail in Chapter 10.

Environmental Impacts

A sign listing things that are not allowed like pets, alcohol, baseball, open fires and more.
Figure 5.9 “Absolutely nothing is allowed here”

Environmental impacts from climate change, deforestation, and resource extraction all have significant potential to affect this sector of the tourism economy. On a local scale, competition with resource extraction for wilderness areas is a vital issue; without reliable access to pristine wilderness, many operators are facing threats to their sustainability (Wilderness Tourism Association, 2005).  Indeed, conflicts with the oil and gas industry, forestry, and mining are constant management challenges for wilderness tourism operators. On a global scale, climate change threatens tourism in BC in many ways, including irregular and insufficient snowfall for winter operations, the pine beetle epidemic sweeping through the province’s forests, and climate-related stress impacting prime wildlife viewing of species such as whales and bears. Environmental issues are discussed in detail in Chapter 10: Environmental Stewardship.

Risk Management

Concerns over risk management and litigation are ongoing for any operator that offers activities with an element of risk. When lawsuits in adventure tourism occur, they are often extensively publicized by the media, creating a perception of risky, dangerous, and irresponsible adventure operators. This can negatively affect the sector through rising insurance rates, increasing governmental regulation, challenging certification requirements, and permitting difficulties when interfacing with land management agencies.

With the popularity of backcountry skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and other winter sports on the rise in BC, the number of participants accessing backcountry areas is increasing (Mitsui, 2013). This is becoming a concern for long-time backcountry enthusiasts as well as safety monitors such as Avalanche Canada. As winter and summer backcountry equipment becomes more readily accessible, people are able to equip themselves without having received advanced safety training.

The increase of backcountry users will continue to expose users to possible dangerous situations. The best scenario is to ensure users receive proper training and education before they venture into the backcountry areas.

Other elements of risk and liability are discussed further in Chapter 11.


Despite some of the challenges faced by recreation, outdoor recreation, and adventure tourism, the industry as a whole remains an exciting, dynamic, and growing sector of the BC tourism economy. Employment opportunities abound, and the potential for economic contribution to the province, protection of wilderness areas, and diversification of rural economies away from resource extraction are exciting prospects. BC is uniquely positioned to maintain positive growth in this area, contingent upon government support to address the barriers and challenges listed above. Students looking to develop professionally in this field should strive to gain both hands-on experience in a specialized activity, and a strong tourism focused education; this combination will offer the best chance to open doors to a long-term career in this exciting industry.

Now that we understand the importance of recreation to the tourism industry, especially in BC, let’s explore Chapter 6, which looks at entertainment, the other half of this industry classification.

Key Terms

  • Adventure tourism: outdoor activities with an element of risk, usually somewhat physically challenging and undertaken in natural, undeveloped areas
  • Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG): Canada’s only internationally recognized guiding association, offering a range of certifications
  • Avalanche Canada: a not-for-profit society that provides public avalanche forecasts and education for backcountry travellers venturing into avalanche terrain, dedicated to a vision of eliminating avalanche injuries and fatalities in Canada
  • British Columbia Golf Marketing Alliance: a strategic alliance representing 58 regional and destination golf resorts in BC with the goal of having BC achieve recognition nationally and internationally as a leading golf destination
  • British Columbia Guest Ranchers Association (BCGRA): an organization offering marketing opportunities and development support for BC’s guest ranch operators
  • British Columbia Snowmobile Federation (BCSF): an organization offering snowmobile patrol services, lessons on operations, and advocating for the maintenance of riding areas in BC
  • Canada West Ski Areas Association (CWSAA): founded in 1966 and headquartered in Kelowna, BC, CWSAA represents ski areas and industry suppliers and provides government and media relations as well as safety and risk management expertise to its membership
  • Canadian Ski Guide Association (CSGA): founded in British Columbia, an organization that runs a training institute for professional guides, and a separate non-profit organization representing CSGA guide and operating members
  • Commercial Bear Viewing Association of BC (CBVA): promoters of best practices in sustainable viewing, training, and certification for guides, and advocating for land use practices.
  • Destination mountain resorts: large-scale mountain resorts where the draw is the resort itself; usually the resort offers all services needed in a tourism destination
  • Dive Industry Association of BC: a marketing and advocacy organization protecting the interests of divers, dive shops, guides, dive instructors, and diving destinations in BC
  • Guide Outfitters Association of BC (GOABC): established in 1966 to promote and preserve the interests of guide outfitters, who take hunters out into wildlife habitat; publishers of Mountain Hunter magazine
  • Nature-based tourism: tourism activities where the motivator is immersion in the natural environment; the focus is often on wildlife and wilderness areas
  • Off-road recreational vehicle (ORV): any vehicle designed to travel off of paved roads and on to trails and gravel roads, such as an ATV (all-terrain vehicle) or Jeep
  • Outdoor recreation: recreational activities occurring outside; generally in undeveloped areas
  • Outdoor Recreation Council of BC (ORC): a not-for-profit organization that promotes the benefits of outdoor recreation, represents the community to government and the general public, advocates and educates about responsible land use, provides a forum for exchanging information, and connects different outdoor recreation groups
  • Recreation: activities undertaken for leisure and enjoyment
  • Regional mountain resorts: small resorts where the focus is on outdoor recreation for the local communities; may also draw tourists
  • Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of BC: representing more than 600 members in the commercial sea kayaking industry, providing operating standards, guide certification, advocacy, and government liaison services
  • Western Canada Mountain Bike Tourism Association (MBTA): a not-for-profit organization working toward establishing BC, and Western Canada, as the world’s foremost mountain bike tourism destination
  •  Wilderness Tourism Association (WTA): an organization that advocates for over 850 nature-based tourism operators in BC, placing a priority on protecting natural resources for continued enjoyment by visitors and residents alike


  1. Compare and contrast the terms recreation, outdoor recreation, and adventure tourism. How can we differentiate between each of these terms?
  2. Do you believe that ORV tourism operators should be considered nature-based tourism? Explain.
  3. What is the difference between a regional mountain resort and a destination mountain resort?
  4. Of the smaller subsectors of tourism economy discussed in this chapter, name three that are commonly found in small, rural communities. What is their significance to the local community?
  5. Name a well-known destination for mountain biking in BC. What is the attraction of that area?
  6. Why is backcountry skiing/snowboarding sometimes considered a risky activity? Explain. How can these risks be mitigated?
  7. List three industry organizations described in this chapter that represent outdoor tourism subsectors. What general services do they offer to those they represent?
  8. What unique advantages does BC offer for recreation, outdoor recreation, and adventure tourism?
  9. Review the section Trends and Issues. What suggestions would you give to the BC Government to support tourism in this subsector?

Case Study: The Wind Within

BC has long been romanticized as a destination that is intrinsically linked to recreation and nature; and our tourism product has traditionally relied on outdoor assets and the promotion of recreation.

In late 2014, Destination British Columbia launched a video and set of corresponding marketing materials that sought to expand on the “Super, Natural” brand promise for the province.

Watch the video here: “The Wild Within: British Columbia, Canada”:

On your own or as part of a team, consider the following:

  1. What natural elements are being promoted?
  2. What recreational activities are featured in the video?
  3. Which industry groups or associations are needed to support these activities? Name at least five.
  4. What are the advantages of promoting BC’s natural elements as a pillar of marketing campaigns?
  5. What are the disadvantages? How might these be mitigated?

After answering these questions, come up with a quick design for a marketing piece that profiles one recreational activity in your local community. This could be a webpage, a brochure, an app, a poster, or another marketing piece. Be sure to visit the Destination BC brand website to make sure your ideas fit in with “The Wild Within” concept and brand:


BC Adventure. (n.d.)  BC Adventure Planner.  Retrieved from:

BC Fishing Resorts and Outfitters Association. (n.d.). About BCFROA. Retrieved from:

BC Guest Ranchers Association. (n.d.). Requirements.  Retrieved from:

BC Parks. (2012). 2011/2012 Statistics Report. [PDF] Retrieved from

British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. (2014). Off-Road Vehicle Act. Retrieved from:

British Columbia Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation. (2012). Gaining the edge: A five-year strategy for tourism in BC. [PDF]  Retrieved from:

British Columbia River Outfitters Association. (n.d.). Provisions. [PDF] Retrieved from

British Columbia Snowmobile Federation (n.d.). About BCSF. Retrieved from:

British Columbia Snowmobile Operators Association. (n.d.). About us – Snowmobile British Columbia. Retrieved from

Canadian Mountain Holidays. (n.d.). About us. Retrieved from:

Canadian Tourism Commission. (2007). TAMS 2006-Canadian activity profile: Wildlife viewing while on trips. [PDF] Retrieved from:

Canadian Tourism Commission. (2012). Sport fishing and game hunting in Canada: An assessment on the potential international tourism opportunity. [PDF] Retrieved from:

Cross Country BC. (n.d.). About us. Retrieved from:

Destination BC. (2014a). Bear viewing. Retrieved from:

Destination BC. (2014b). Biking. Retrieved from:

Destination BC. (2014c). Golfing. Retrieved from:

Destination BC. (2014d). Whale watching. Retrieved from:

Destination BC. (n.d.) River rafting British Columbia. Retrieved from

Dive Industry Association of BC. (n.d.). About us. Retrieved from:

Education Scotland. (n.d.). Paddlesports. Retrieved from:

Guide Outfitters Association of BC. (n.d.). Economic contribution. Retrieved from:

HeliCat Canada. (n.d.). Our members. Retrieved from:

Ivanova, I. (2004). Recreational diving in British Columbia survey report. [PDF] Retrieved from:

Mitsui, E. (2013). Popularity of backcountry skiing worries some in industry. CBC News. Retrieved from

Outdoor Recreation Council of BC. (2014). About Us. Retrieved from:

Porteus, S. (March 6, 2013). The growing business of the backcountry. BC Business. Retrieved from:

Selkirk Wilderness Skiing (n.d.). About us. Retrieved from:

Strategic Networks, Inc. (2009). Economic impact for golf in Canada. [PDF] Retrieved from:

Tourism BC. (2005a). British Columbia River Outfitters report. Retrieved from:

Tourism BC. (2005b). Characteristics of commercial nature-based tourism industry in British Columbia [PDF]. Retrieved from:

Tourism BC. (2007a). British Columbia’s sea kayaking sector 2005. [PDF] Retrieved from:,-Dec/British_Columbia_s_Sea_Kayakers_Report_2005-sflb.pdf.aspx

Tourism BC. (2007b). Travel activities and motivations of Canadian residents: An overview. [PDF] Retrieved from:

Tourism BC. (2009a). Fishing product overview. Retrieved from:

Tourism BC. (2009b). Golf sector profile [PDF]. Retrieved from:

Tourism BC. (2009c). Wildlife viewing product overview. [PDF] Retrieved from:

Tourism BC. (2011a). Guest ranchers business survey 2008/2009. [PDF] Retrieved from:,-January/GuestRanchersReport2008_2009.pdf.aspx

Tourism BC. (2011b). Mountain bike tourism guide. Retrieved from:

Tourism BC. (2011c). The value of mountain resorts to the British Columbia economy. [PDF] Retrieved from:

Tourism BC. (2013). 2009/2010 Outdoor recreation study. [PDF] Retrieved from:,-January-2013/Outdoor-Recreation-for-Distribution-14Jan13-FINAL-DRAFT-(2).pdf.aspx

Tribe, J. (2011). The economics of recreation, leisure, and tourism. 4th Edition. Oxford, England: Elsevier.

United Nations World Tourism Organization. (2014). Global report on adventure tourism. Retrieved from:

Webster, D. (2013). Adventure tourism operators and snowmobiles: Managing interactions. [PDF] Retrieved from:

Western Canada Mountain Bike Tourism Association. (2006). Sea-to-sky mountain biking economic impact study. [PDF] Retrieved from:

Wilderness Tourism Association. (2005). Characteristics of the commercial nature-based Tourism industry in British Columbia. [PDF] Retrieved from


Figure 5.1  Up and over by Ruth Hartnup is used under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

Figure 5.2 Row Your Boat by Matt Hosford is used under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

Figure 5.3 Blackcomb by Jeff Wilcox is used under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

Figure 5.4 Snowmobiling by Shazron is used under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

Figure 5.5 Cyclists by Jason Sager is used under a CC-BY-SA 2.0 license.

Figure 5.6 A bear in Bute Inlet, BC by John Critchley is used under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

Figure 5.7 Waiting in line by Ruth Hartnup is used under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

Figure 5.8 Rafting Adventure in Squamish, BC by Raj Taneja is used under a CC-BY-NC 2.0 license.

Figure 5.9 Absolutely Nothing is Allowed Here by Vicki & Chuck Rogers is used under a CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.


Chapter 6. Entertainment

Donna Owens

Learning Objectives

  • Describe the nature and function of activities and businesses that provide entertainment for tourists in Canada
  • Identify tourism entertainment activities by their industry groups
  • Identify various types of festivals and events and ways in which these are funded and organized
  • Describe the MCIT (meetings, convention, and incentive travel) component and its economic impact
  • Review various types of attractions including zoos and botanical gardens
  • List components of cultural heritage tourism including museums, galleries, and heritage sites
  • List other experiences including sport tourism, agritourism, wine tourism, and culinary tourism
  • Identify key industry associations related to the tourism entertainment sector and understand their mandates and the resources they provide


When a traveller enters Canada, there’s a good chance he or she will be asked at the border, What is the nature of your trip? Whether the answer is for business, leisure, or visiting friends and relatives, there’s a possibility that a traveller will participate in some of the following activities (as listed in the Statistics Canada International Travel Survey):

These activities fall under the realm of entertainment as it relates to tourism. Documenting every activity that could be on a tourist’s to-do list would be nearly impossible, for what one traveller would find entertaining, another may not. This chapter focuses on the major components of arts, entertainment, and attractions, including motion pictures, video exhibitions, and wineries, all activities listed under the North American Industry Classification System we learned about in Chapter 1.

A collection of lanterns lined up and lit.
Figure 6.1 A labyrinth of light at the 2008 Winter Solstice Lantern Festival in Vancouver

Festivals and Events

Festival and Major Events Canada (FAME) released a report in 2009 detailing the economic impacts of the 15 largest festivals and events across Canada, which amounted to $750 million in tourist spending and another $300 million in local operational spending (Enigma Research Consultants, 2009). Let’s take a closer look at this segment of the sector.


The International Dictionary of Event Management defines a festival as a “public celebration that conveys, through a kaleidoscope of activities, certain meanings to participants and spectators” (Goldblatt, 2001, p. 78). Other definitions, including those used by the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the European Union, highlight accessibility to the general public and short duration as key elements that define a festival.

Search “festivals in Canada” online and over 54 million results will appear. To define these activities in the context of tourism, we need to consider operations and marketing: in other words, we must answer the questions, Who are these activities aimed at? and Why are they being celebrated?

The broad nature of festivals has lead to the development of classification types. For instance, funding for the federal government’s Building Communities through Arts and Heritage Program is available under three categories, depending on the type of festival:

  1. Local festivals funding is provided to local groups for recurring festivals that present the work of local artists, artisans, or historical performers.
  2. Community anniversaries funding is provided to local groups for non-recurring local events and capital projects that commemorate an anniversary of 100 years (or greater, in increments of 25 years).
  3. Legacy funding is provided to community capital projects that commemorate a 100th anniversary (or greater, in increments of 25 years) of a significant local historical event or local historical personality.

In 2012-13, funds awarded to BC festivals ranged from $2,000 for the Nelson History Theatre Society’s Nelson Arts and Heritage Festival to $119,400 for the Vancouver International Film Festival (Government of Canada, 2014a).

Spotlight On: International Festivals and Events Association

Founded in 1956 as the Festival Manager’s Association, the International Festivals and Events Association (IFEA) supports professionals who produce and support celebrations for the benefit of their communities. Membership is required to access many of their resources. For more information, visit the International Festivals and Events Association website:

Festivals and events in BC celebrate theatre dance, film, crafts, visual arts, and more. Just a few examples are Bard on the Beach, Vancouver International Improv Festival, Cornucopia, and the Cowichan Wine and Culinary Festival.

Three people dressed nicely holding wine glasses.
Figure 6.2 Guests at Cornucopia in Whistler

Spotlight On: Cornucopia, Whistler’s Celebration of Wine and Food

This festival is dubbed “the fall festival for the indulgent and the connoisseur.” It’s an 11-day showcase with seminars, tastings, gala events, and all things decadent. For more information, visit Cornucopia:


An event is a happening at a given place and time, usually of some importance, celebrating or commemorating a special occasion. To help broaden this simple definition, categories have been developed based on the scale of events. These categories, presented in Table 6.1 overlap and are not hard and fast, but help cover a range of events.

Table 6.1: Event types, characteristics, and examples
[Skip Table]
Event Type Characteristics Examples
1. Mega-event: those that yield high levels of tourism, media coverage, prestige, or economic impact for the host community or destination.
  • So large it affects economies
  • Gains global media coverage
  • Highly prestigious
  • Usually developed with a bidding process
  • Has major positive  and negative impacts
  • 1 million+ visits
  • Capital costs in excess of $500 million
  • Considered “must see”
  • Olympic Games/ Paralympic Games
  • Commonwealth Games
  • FIFA World Cup
  • World fairs and expositions
  • Economic summits
2. Special event: outside the normal activities of the sponsoring or organizing body.
  • One-time or infrequent
  • Specific ritual, presentation, performance, or celebration
  • Planned and created to mark a special occasion
  • National days and celebrations
  • Important civic occasions
  • Unique cultural performances
  • Royal weddings
  • Diamond jubilees
3. Hallmark event: possesses such significance in terms of tradition, attractiveness, quality or publicity, that it provides the host venue, community, or destination with a competitive  advantage.
  • Identified with the location or synonymous with place name
  • Gains widespread recognition/awareness
  • Creates a competitive tourism advantage
  • The Carnival of Brazil  (Rio de Janeiro)
  • Mardi Gras (New Orleans)
  • Oktoberfest (Munich)
4. Festival: (as defined above) public celebration that conveys, through a kaleidoscope of activities, certain meanings to participants and spectators.
  • Celebration and reaffirmation of community or culture
  • Artistic content
  • Religious or ritualistic
  • Music, dance, and drama are often featured
  • Lollapalooza
  • Junkanoo (Nassau, Bahamas)
5. Local community event: generated by and for locals; can be of interest to visitors, but tourists are not the main intended audience.
  • Involves the local population
  • A shared experience to their mutual benefit
  • Fundraisers
  • Picnics
  • Barbeques
Data source: Getz, 1997, p. 6

Events can be extremely complex projects, which is why, over time, the role of event planners has taken on greater importance. The development of education, training programs, and professional designations such as CMPs (Certified Meeting Planners), CSEP (Certified Special Events Professional), and CMM (Certificate in Meeting Management) has led to increased credibility in this business and demonstrates the importance of the sector to the economy. Furthermore, there are a variety of event management certifications and diplomas offered in BC that enable future event and festival planners to gain specific skills and knowledge within the sector.

Various tasks involved in event planning include:

But events aren’t just for leisure visitors. In fact, the tourism industry has a long history of creating, hosting, and promoting events that draw business travellers. The next section explores meetings, conventions, and incentive travel, also known as MCIT.

Meetings, Conventions, and Incentive Travel (MCIT)

According to the Business Events Industry Coalition of Canada (BEICC), business events are big business. In 2012, they:

The business events industry in Canada is as big as agriculture and forestry, and it provides nearly twice the number of jobs that telecommunications and utilities do (BEICC, 2014).

Take a Closer Look: BEICC Canadian Economic Impact Study  

To learn more about the impact of business events, watch the BEICC Canadian Economic Impact Study video:

BEICC Canadian Economic Impact Study

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A YouTube element has been excluded from this version of the text. You can view it online here:

There are several types of business events. Conventions generally have very large attendance, and are held annually in different locations. They also often require a bidding process. Conferences have specific themes, and are held for smaller, focused groups. Trade shows/trade fairs can be stand-alone events, or adjoin a convention or conference. Finally, seminars, workshops, and retreats are examples of smaller-scale MCIT events.

Spotlight On: The Business Events Industry Coalition of Canada

The Business Events Industry Coalition of Canada (BEICC) is the national voice of the meetings and events industry in Canada, comprising organizations dedicated to the betterment and promotion of the meetings and events industry. For more information, visit the Business Events Industry Coalition of Canada website:

As meeting planners became more creative, meeting and convention delegates became more demanding about meeting sites. No longer are hotel meeting rooms and convention centres the only type of location used; non-traditional venues have adapted and become competitive in offering services for meeting planners. These include architectural spaces such as airplane hangars, warehouses, or rooftops and experiential venues such as aquariums, museums, and galleries (Colston, 2014).

Spotlight On: Meeting Professionals International

Meeting Professionals International (MPI), founded in 1972, is a membership-based professional development organization for meeting and event planners. For more information, visit the Meeting Professionals International website or the Meeting Professionals International: BC Chapter website:

Incentive Travel

For many people new to the travel industry, incentive travel is an unfamiliar concept. The Society of Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE) has explained that incentive travel involves “motivational and performance improvement strategies of which travel is a key component” (2014). Unlike other types of business events, incentive travel is focused on fun, food, and other activities rather than education and work.

Sectors that use incentive travel include insurance, finance, technology, pharmaceutical, and auto manufacturers and dealers. The incentive travel market is extremely competitive and demanding. When rewarding high-performance staff, Fortune 500-type companies are looking for the most luxurious and unique travel experiences and products available.

Take a Closer Look: SITE Crystal Awards

SITE holds annual awards for the best in unique, memorable incentive experiences. In 2014, the winner for Most Effective Incentive/Marketing Campaign, “Toyota Dealer Incentive – Elegant Escapes”  was Aimia. To see the list of other winners, and for more information, visit the Site Crystal Awards:

Figure 6.3 Pan Pacific Hotel and the Vancouver Convention Centre

Convention Centres

No discussion of business events would be complete without noting the importance of convention centres — very large venues that can host thousands of delegates.

Key success factors for convention venues include:

BC is home to a number of convention centres, including those in Kelowna, Nanaimo, Penticton, Prince George, and Victoria. The signature venue for the province is the Vancouver Convention Centre, which underwent a significant expansion prior to the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Spotlight On: The Vancouver Convention Centre

The Vancouver Convention Centre is owned and managed by the BC Pavilion Corporation (PavCo), a Crown corporation, and staffed with 70 PavCo employees, six official suppliers, and a further workforce of 291 full-time equivalent jobs. With its unique “scratch kitchen” that uses fresh, local products, an extensive recycling program, and its legendary “green roof,” the centre is known for its beautiful views and commitment to sustainability. For more information, visit the Vancouver Convention Centre:

With an understanding of the scope of festivals and events, as well as examples of the venues that host them, let’s turn our attention to the diverse number of attractions that contribute to the tourism entertainment sector.


Without attractions there would be no need for other tourism services. Indeed tourism as such would not exist if it were not for attractions. (Swarbrooke, 2002, p. 3)

When the Canadian Tourism Commission planned a survey of Canada’s tourist attractions in 1995, there was no official definition of tourist attractions. After consultation, federal, provincial, territorial, and industry stakeholders agreed on a working definition: “places whose main purpose is to allow public access for entertainment, interest, or education”  (Canadian Tourism Commission, 1998, p. 3).

Five major categories were established:

  1. Heritage attractions: focus on preserving and exhibiting objects, sites, and natural wonders of historical, cultural, and educational value (e.g., museums, art galleries, historic sites, botanical gardens, zoos, nature parks, conservation areas)
  2. Amusement/entertainment attractions: maintain and provide access to amusement or entertainment facilities (e.g., arcades; amusement, theme, and water parks)
  3. Recreational attractions: maintain and provide access to outdoor or indoor facilities where people can participate in sports and recreational activities (e.g., golf courses, skiing facilities, marinas, bowling centres)
  4. Commercial attractions: retail operations dealing in gifts, handcrafted goods, and souvenirs that actively market to tourists (e.g., craft stores listed in a tourist guide)
  5. Industrial attractions: deal mainly in agriculture, forestry, and manufacturing products that actively market to tourists (e.g., wineries, fish hatcheries, factories)

Although the data is two decades old (the survey was never repeated at a national level), the overall findings help to outline the importance of tourist attractions to Canada’s tourism industry. The 1995 survey found:

Major revenue sources for attractions include admission, merchandising, food and beverage sales, parking, grants, and donations. Major expenses include staff, land, insurance, permits and fees, marketing, equipment, and buildings.

The rest of this chapter explores various types of attractions in more detail.

Cultural/Heritage Tourism

The phrase cultural/heritage tourism can be interpreted in many ways. The Canadian Tourism Commission has defined it as tourism “occurring when participation in a cultural or heritage activity is a significant factor for traveling. Cultural tourism includes performing arts (theatre, dance, and music), visual arts and crafts, festivals, museums and cultural centres, and historic sites and interpretive centres” (LinkBC, 2012).

A man dressed in period clothing.
Figure 6.4 A “pioneer” at Barkerville historic site near Quesnel, BC

Take a Closer Look: The First Government of Canada Survey of Heritage Institutions

In late 2014 the Department of Canadian Heritage released its Survey of Heritage Institutions, which provides aggregate financial and operating data to governments and cultural associations. It aims to gain a better understanding of not-for-profit heritage institutions in Canada in order to aid in the development of policies and the administration of programs. View the full version of the report at
Government of Canada Survey of Heritage Institutions: 2011 [PDF]:

A 2011 Government of Canada survey of heritage institutions found (2014b):

Volunteers at heritage institutions outnumbered paid staff by approximately three to one. Of the 128,000 workers in heritage institutions, approximately 96,000 were volunteers. The amount of time they donated (over six million hours) contributed to huge savings for institutions. These statistics indicate that volunteerism is a critical success factor for Canadian heritage institutions.

Overall attendance at heritage institutions totalled almost 45 million visits in 2011, with museums (21.5 million visits) being the most popular of all heritage institution types surveyed. There were also over 137 million online visits to all heritage institutions (captured for the first time in the history of the survey).

Performing Arts

Performing arts generally include theatre companies and dinner theatres, dance companies, musical groups, and artists and other performing arts companies. These activities and entities contribute to a destination’s tourist product offering and are usually considered an aspect of cultural tourism.

A ballerina does the splits in the air.
Figure 6.5. Yoshiko Kamikusa of BC’s Goh Ballet

In 2011, the majority of small and medium-sized performing arts companies in Canada were profitable (86.3%). The average annual net profit was $28,300 (Government of Canada, 2014c).

British Columbia was home to 166 performing arts groups in 2012, and 103 of these were considered micro groups, indicating that this sector of the industry is dominated by small organizations with one to four employees.

Spotlight On: Made in BC

Made in BC: Dance On Tour is a not-for-profit organization committed to bringing touring dance performances, dance workshops, and other dance events to communities around British Columbia for the benefit of residents and visitors alike. Originally intended to showcase BC performers, it also brings touring groups from other regions to the province. For more information, visit Made in BC:

Art Museums and Galleries

Art museums and galleries may be public, private, or commercial. According to the Canadian Art Museum Directors Organization (CAMDO, 2014), both art museums and public galleries present works of art to the public, exhibiting a diverse range of art from more well-known artists to emerging artists. Exhibitions are assembled and organized by a curator who oversees the installation of the works in the gallery space. However, art museums and public galleries have different mandates, and therefore offer different visitor experiences.

Art museums collect historical and modern works of art for educational purposes and to preserve them for future generations. Public galleries, on the other hand, do not generally collect or conserve works of art. Rather, they focus on exhibitions of contemporary works as well as on programs of lectures, publications, and other events.

A few examples of the art museums and public galleries in BC are the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Two Rivers Gallery in Prince George, and the Kelowna Art Gallery.

Many of the smaller galleries have formed partnerships within geographic regions to share marketing resources and increase visitor appeal. One example includes the self-guided Art Route Tour in Haida Gwaii.


The term museum covers a wide range of institutions from wax museums to sports halls of fame. No matter what type of museum it is, many are now asking if museums are still relevant in today’s high-tech world. In response, museums are using new technology to expand the visitor experience. One example is the Royal BC Museum, which hosts an online Learning Portal, lists recent related tweets on its home page, and is home to an IMAX theatre playing IMAX movies that relate to the museum exhibits.

Spotlight On: Canadian Museums Association

The Canadian Museums Association (CMA) is the national organization for the advancement of Canada’s museum community. The CMA works for the recognition, growth, and stability of the sector. Canada’s 2,500 museums and related institutions preserve Canada’s collective memory, shape national identity, and promote tolerance and understanding. For more information, visit the Canadian Museums Association:

Data from the 2011 Survey of Heritage Institutions in Canada found that attendance at heritage institutions totalled almost 45 million visits, with museums (21.5 million visits) being the most popular.

Spotlight On: British Columbia Museums Association

Founded in 1957 and incorporated in 1966, the British Columbia Museums Association (BCMA) provides a unified voice for the institutions, trustees, professional staff, and volunteers of the BC museum and gallery community. For more information, visit the British Columbia Museums Association:

British Columbia is home to over 200 museums, including Vancouver’s Museum of Anthropology and Victoria’s Royal BC Museum, both with impressive displays of Aboriginal art and culture. Smaller community museums include the Fraser River Discovery Centre in New Westminster, and the Zeballos Heritage Museum.

Botanical Gardens

botanical garden is a garden that displays native and non-native plants and trees. It conducts educational, research, and public information programs that enhance public understanding and appreciation of plants, trees, and gardening (Canadensis, 2014).

Canadian botanical gardens host an estimated 4.5 million visitors per year and are important science and educational facilities, providing leadership in plant conservation and public education (Botanic Gardens Convervation International, 2014). British Columbia is home to notable botanical gardens such as Vancouver’s Stanley Park, the Butchart Gardens near Victoria, UBC’s Botanical Garden, and VanDusen Botanical Garden, to name just a few.


Zoos all over the world are facing many challenges. A recent article in The Atlantic — whose title poses the question, “Is the Future of Zoos No Zoos at All?” — discusses how the increased use of technology by biologists, such as habitat cameras (nest cams, bear den cams), GPS trackers, and live web feeds of natural behaviours, has transformed the zoo experience into “reality – zoo tv” (Wald, 2014). There is also growing opposition to zoos from organizations such as PETA, who claim that zoo enclosures deprive animals of the opportunity to meet their basic needs and develop relationships (PETA, 2014).

Spotlight On: Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums

Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA) was founded in 1975.  It represents the 33 leading zoological parks and aquariums in Canada and promotes the welfare of, and encourages the advancement and improvement of, related animal exhibits in Canada as humane agencies of recreation, education, conservation, and science. For more information, visit Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums:

Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA) work in support of ethical and responsible facilities. Examples of CAZA members in BC include the BC Wildlife Park in Kamloops, the Greater Vancouver Zoo, Kicking Horse Grizzly Bear Refuge near Golden, Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre in Sidney, and the Vancouver Aquarium (Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums, 2014).

Canadian zoos with high attendance levels include the Toronto Zoo with over 1.3 million guests in 2010 (Toronto Zoo, 2010), and the Vancouver Aquarium with over 1 million visitors in 2013 (Vancouver Aquarium 2013). In 2013, the Calgary Zoo employed almost 300 full- and part-time staff and an additional 99 seasonal employees (Calgary Zoo, 2013).

Amusement and Theme Parks

People sitting on swings are spun high in the air.
Figure 6.6 Wave spinners at Vancouver’s Playland amusement park

While cultural and heritage attractions strive to present information based on historic and evolving cultures and facts, amusement parks are attractions that often work to create alternate, fanciful realities. Theme parks have a long history dating back to the 1500s in Europe, and have evolved ever since. Today, it is hard not to try to compare any amusement park destination to Disneyland and Disney World. Opened in 1955 in sunny California, Disneyland set the standard for theme parks. The Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) in Vancouver is considered one of BC’s most recognizable amusement parks and recently celebrated its 100-year anniversary (PNE, 2015).

Canada’s ability to compete with US theme parks is hampered by our climate. With a much shorter summer season, the ability to attract investment in order to sustain large-scale entertainment complexes is limited, as is the market for these attractions. It’s no wonder that in 2011 profitable Canadian amusement parks only saw an average net profit of $73,200, with 34% of firms failing to turn a profit that year. BC has only 22 amusement parks, and more than half of these are considered small, with under 100 employees (Government of Canada, 2014d).

Spotlight On: International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions

The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) is the largest international trade association for permanently situated amusement facilities worldwide. Dedicated to the preservation and prosperity of the amusement industry, it represents more than 4,300 facility, supplier, and individual members from more than 97 countries, including most amusement parks and attractions in the United States. For more information, visit the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions website:

Motion Picture and Video Exhibitions

The film industry in Canada, and particularly in BC, has gained international recognition in part through events such as the Toronto International Film Festival, Montreal World Film Festival, and Vancouver International Film Festival. According to the Motion Picture Association — Canada (2013) these festivals attracted an estimated audience of 1.9 million in 2011, as well as over 18,000 industry delegates. Festival operations, visitor spending, and delegate spending combined totalled $163 million that year and generated 2,000 jobs (full-time equivalents).

There are no statistics available on film-induced tourism in Canada, but several notable feature films and television series have been shot here and have drawn loyal fans to production locations. In BC, some of these titles include Reindeer Games and Double Jeopardy (Prince George), Roxanne (Nelson), The Pledge (Fraser Canyon), Battlestar Galactica (Kamloops), The Twilight Saga, Smallville, and Supernatural (Greater Vancouver).

Spotlight On: The Whistler Film Festival

Founded in 2001, the Whistler Film Festival has grown to become one of Canada’s premier events for promoting the development of Western Canada’s film industry and an emerging venue in the international circuit. The festival, held during the first weekend in December, attracts an audience of over 8,200 and more than 500 industry delegates to the ski resort of Whistler, British Columbia, for seminars, special events, and the screening of over 80 independent films from Canada and around the world. For more information, visit the Whistler Film Festival:

Spectator Sports and Sport Tourism

Spectator sports and the growing field of sport tourism also contribute significantly to the economy and have become a major part of the tourism industry. According to the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance (2013), sport tourism is any activity in which people are attracted to a particular location to attend a sport-related event as either a:

In 2012, the sport tourism industry in Canada surpassed $5 billion in spending. The domestic market is the largest source of sport tourists, accounting for 84% of all spending, followed by overseas markets (10.8%) and US visitors (5.3% of sport tourism revenues) (Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance, 2014).

Spotlight On: Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance

The Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance (CSTA) was created in 2000 created to market Canada internationally as a preferred sport tourism destination and grow the sport tourism industry in Canada. The purpose of the alliance was to increase Canadian capacity to attract and host sport tourism events. The alliance has over 400 members including 142 municipalities, 200+ national and provincial sport organizations, and a variety of product and service suppliers to the industry. For more information, visit the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance website:

In British Columbia, sport tourism is supported through the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, which invests in event hosting and the ViaSport program (formerly known as Hosting BC). Building on the success of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, the program has a goal to maintain BC’s profile and reputation as an exceptional major event host. One success story is Kamloops, dubbed the Tournament Capital of Canada, which has made sport tourism a central component of its economy and welcomes over one million visitors to its tournament centre facility each year. And since 1977, the BC Winter and Summer Games have moved around the province, drawing attendees and creating volunteer opportunities for up to 3,200 community members.

Take a Closer Look: The Sport Tourism Guide  

The Sport Tourism Guide from Destination BC’s Tourism Business Essentials series covers topics including understanding sport tourism, industry trends, event bidding and hosting, balance sheets, economic impacts, case studies, best practices, and links to additional information. For more information, read the Sport Tourism Guide [PDF]:


According to the Canadian Gaming Association, gaming is one of the largest entertainment industries in Canada. It has larger revenues than those generated by magazines and book sales, drinking establishments, spectator sports, movie theatres, and performing arts combined (Canadian Gaming Association, 2011).

Figure 6.7 Vancouver’s Edgewater Casino

In 2011, the association released an economic impact study stating that legalized gaming had nearly tripled in size since 1995, from $6.4 billion to about $15.1 billion.

According to the BC Lottery Corporation, in 2013, the BC gaming industry was made up of:

Gaming at these facilities and online generated $1.175 billion in net tax revenue to the province of BC, which was reinvested into the heath care system and distributed to communities through a series of grants (BC Lottery Corporation, 2013).

Spotlight on: The BC Lottery Corporation (BCLC)

The BC Lottery Corporation (BCLC) is a provincial Crown corporation that operates under the provincial Gaming Control Act. It is responsible for operating lottery, casino, online, and bingo gaming in BC. For more informatioon, visit the BC Lottery Corporation website:

The provincial industry has grown annually since 2006, except in 2010 (slight decrease of about $15 million). The majority of growth was accounted for by the redevelopment/expansion of existing casinos and the introduction of a number of CGCs (Canadian Gaming Association, 2011).

Agritourism, Culinary Tourism, and Wine Tourism

Let’s now have a closer look at the world of farms, food, and wine in the entertainment and tourism industries.


The Canadian Farm Business Management Council defines agritourism as “travel that combines rural settings with products of agricultural operations within a tourism experience that is paid for by visitors” (SOTC, 2011). In other words, rural and natural environments are mixed with agricultural and tourism products and services.

Agritourism products and services can be categorized into three themes:

  1. Fixed attractions such as historic farms, living farms, museums, food processing facilities, and natural areas
  2. Events based on an agricultural theme such as conferences, rodeos, agricultural fairs, and food festivals
  3. Services such as accommodations (B&Bs), tours, retailing (farm produce and products), and activities (fishing, hiking, etc.) that incorporate agricultural products and/or experiences

At a time when farmers are facing increasing costs and the local food movement is growing in popularity, agritourism presents a great opportunity to use farm resources to create experiences for visitors, whether they be for entertainment, education, or as venues for business/meeting events. In BC, examples of agritourism businesses are Salt Spring Island Cheese, Okanagan Lavender Herb Farm near Kelowna, and Amusé Bistro in the Cowichan Valley, where a local monk and mushroom expert forages for local fungi (HelloBC, 2014).

The three primary agricultural regions in BC are:

  1. The Fraser Valley (outside of Vancouver)
  2. The Cowichan Valley (on Vancouver Island)
  3. The Okanagan Valley (in the southern central part of BC)

A number of self-guided circle tours and other experiences are available in these and other areas, including annual festivals and events, such as the Pemberton Slow Food Cycle Sunday, profiled in the Spotlight On below.

Spotlight On: Slow Food Cycle Sunday

The Slow Food Cycle Sunday began in 2005 with the Helmer family farm in Pemberton. The idea is to connect everyday people and city residents to their farmers. Attendees register in advance and then cycle from farm to farm gathering ingredients and enjoying tastings and learning more about farm operations. It’s the opposite of the drive-through fast-food experience, and one that gains popularity every year. For more information, visit Slow Food Cycle Sunday:

Culinary Tourism

Culinary tourism refers to “any tourism experience in which one learns about, appreciates, and/or consumes food and drink that reflects the local, regional, or national cuisine, heritage, culture, tradition, or culinary techniques” (Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance, 2013). The United Nations World Tourism Organization has noted that food tourism is a dynamic and growing segment, and that over one-third of tourism expenditures relate to food (UNWTO, 2012).

Culinary tourism in Canada began to gain traction as a niche in 2002 when the Canadian Tourism Commission highlighted it within the cultural tourism market, and according to a Ryerson University study, the average culinary tourist spends twice the amount of a generic tourist (Grishkewich, 2012).

While an emerging and potentially lucrative market, there is much more to learn about culinary tourists to BC, and Canada. To date more research has profiled an additional sub-segment of culinary tourism, wine tourism, which we’ll explore next.

Wine Tourism

The North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) defines wine tourism as the “tasting, consumption, or purchase of wine, often at or near the source, such as wineries.” It also includes an educational aspect and festivals focusing on the production of wine (Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, 2014).

Rows of grapevines in a field.
Figure 6.8 Saturna Vineyards on Saturna Island, BC

There are more than 200 wineries in BC, ranging from small family-run vineyards to large estate operations. In 2011, BC’s wine industry generated $1.43 billion in business revenue, and either directly or indirectly supported over 10,000 full-time jobs (Frank, Rimerman + Co, 2013).

Specific to tourism, wineries across BC attracted over 800,000 visitors in 2011, generating $1.63 million, more than 10% of total provincial wine revenues. Wine tourism accounted for over 2,000 wine-related jobs that year, approximately 20% of total wine industry jobs (Frank, Rimmerman + Co, 2013).

Take a Closer Look: Wine Tourism Product Report

For more information on the wine sector in British Columbia, read this 2009 report that speaks to market profiles, industry makeup and other important information: Wine Tourism Product Report, 2009 [PDF]:

According to the 2006 Travel Activities and Motivations Survey (TAMS), 3.3 million Canadians and 30 million Americans participated in wine tourism in 2004/2005, with BC receiving 45% of the Canadian visitors, and just over 9% of the American guests. These visitors earned 40% higher incomes than generic visitors, were well-educated, evenly split between men and women, and represented a slightly older demographic (Destination BC, 2009).

While more recent data is not currently available on this still-developing sector, industry experts agree that agritourism, culinary tourism, and wine tourism will continue to attract lucrative visitors and play a growing role in BC’s tourism economy.

Trends and Issues

So far in this chapter, we’ve looked at entertainment experiences from wine to gambling, from farm-fresh foods to museums and galleries, and at many things in between. But the entertainment sector doesn’t exist in a perfect world. Now let’s examine some of the trends and issues in the sector today. Festivals, events, and other entertainment experiences can have significant positive, and negative, impacts on communities and guests.

Impacts of Entertainment

Each type of festival, event, or attraction will have an impact on the host community and guests. Table 6.2 lists some of the positive impacts that can be built upon and celebrated. It also lists some of the potential negative impacts event coordinators should strive to limit.

Table 6.2: Positive and negative impacts of entertainment activities (festivals, events, attractions) on the guest and host communities
[Skip Table]
Type of Impact Positive Impacts Negative Impacts
Social and Cultural
  • Shared experience
  • Revitalizing traditions
  • Building community pride
  • Assisting community groups
  • Expanding cultural perspectives
  • Community alienation
  • Negative community image
  • Bad behaviour
  • Substance abuse or addiction
  • Social dislocation
Physical and Environmental
  • Increasing environmental awareness
  • Ensuring infrastructure legacy
  • Improved transport/communications
  • Urban transformation and renewal
  • Environmental damage
  • Pollution
  • Destruction of heritage
  • Noise disturbance
  • Traffic congestion
  • International prestige
  • Improved profile
  • Promotion of investment in the host community
  • Social cohesion
  • Development of event/administrative skills
  • Risk of event failure
  • Misallocation of funds
  • Lack of accountability
  • Propaganda purposes
  • Loss of ownership and control
  • Legitimization of political ideology
Tourist and Economic
  • Destination promotion
  • Increased tourist visits
  • Extended length of visitor stay
  • Higher economic yield
  • Increased tax revenue
  • Permanent and temporary job creation
  • Community resistance to tourism
  • Loss of authenticity
  • Damage to reputation
  • Exploitation
  • Inflated prices
  • Opportunity costs


The role of technology is shifting the guest experience from the physical to the virtual. Online gambling, virtual exhibits, and live streaming animal habitat cams are just a few of the new ways that visitors can be entertained, often without having to visit the destination. As this type of experience continues to thrive, the sector must constantly adapt to capture revenues and attention.


Across Canada and within BC the range of activities to entertain and delight travellers runs from authentic explorations of cultural phenomena to pure amusement. Those working in the entertainment tourism sector know that providing a friendly, welcoming experience is a key component in sustaining any tourism destination. Whether through festivals, events, attractions, or new virtual components, the tourism industry relies on entertainment to complete packages and ensure guests, whether business or leisure travellers, increase their spending and enjoyment.

Thus far we’ve explored the key sectors of transportation, accommodation, food and beverage, and recreation and entertainment. The final sector, travel services, brings these all together, and is explored in more detail in Chapter 7.

Key Terms

  • Agritourism: tourism experiences that highlight rural destinations and prominently feature agricultural operations
  • Art museums: museums that collect historical and modern works of art for educational purposes and to preserve them for future generations
  • Botanical garden: a garden that displays native and/or non-native plants and trees, often running educational programming
  • British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC): the rown corporation responsible for operating casinos, lotteries, bingo halls, and online gaming in the province of BC
  • Business Events Industry Coalition of Canada (BEICC): an advocacy group for the meetings and events industry in Canada
  • Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance (CSTA): created in 2000, an industry organization funded by the Canadian Tourism Commission to increase Canadian capacity to attract and host sport tourism events
  • Community gaming centres (CGCs): small-scale gaming establishments, typically in the form of bingo halls
  • Conferences: business events that have specific themes and are held for smaller, focused groups
  • Conventions: business events that generally have very large attendance, are held annually in different locations each year, and usually require a bidding process
  • Culinary tourism: tourism experiences where the key focus is on local and regional food and drink, often highlighting the heritage of products involved and techniques associated with their production
  • Cultural/heritage tourism: when tourists travel to a specific destination in order to participate in a cultural or heritage-related event
  • Entertainment: (as it relates to tourism) includes attending festivals, events, fairs, spectator sports, zoos, botanical gardens, historic sites, cultural venues, attractions, museums, and galleries
  • Event: a happening at a given place and time, usually of some importance, celebrating or commemorating a special occasion; can include mega-events, special events, hallmark events, festivals, and local community events
  • Festival: a public event that features multiple activities in celebration of a culture, an anniversary or historical date, art form, or product (food, timber, etc.)
  • Incentive travel: a global management tool that uses an exceptional travel experience to motivate and/or recognize participants for increased levels of performance in support of organizational goals
  • International Festivals and Events Association (IFEA): organization that supports professionals who produce and support celebrations for the benefit of their respective communities
  • Meetings, conventions, and incentive travel (MCIT): all special events with programming aimed at a business audience
  • Meeting Professionals International (MPI): a membership-based professional development organization for meeting and event planners
  • Public galleries: art galleries that do not generally collect or conserve works of art; rather, they focus on exhibitions of contemporary works as well as on programs of lectures, publications, and other events
  • Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE): a global network of professionals dedicated to the recognition and development of motivational incentives and performance improvement
  • Sport tourism: any activity in which people are attracted to a particular location as a participant, spectator, or visitor to sport attractions, or as an attendee of sport-related business meetings
  • Tourist attractions: places of interest that pull visitors to a destination; open to the public for entertainment or education
  • Trade shows/trade fairs: can be stand-alone events, or adjoin a convention or conference and allow a range of vendors to showcase their products and services either to other businesses or to consumers
  • Wine tourism: tourism experiences where exploration, consumption, and purchase of wine are key components


  1. Review the categories of events. What types of events have you ever attended in person? What types of events are held in your community? Try to list at least one for each category.
  2. Should the government (municipal, provincial, federal) support festivals and events? Why or why not?
  3. Aside from convention centres, where else can meetings, conventions, and conferences be held? Use your own creative ideas to list at least five other venues.
  4. What are some of the main sources of revenue for attractions (both mainstream and cultural/heritage attractions)? What are the main expenses?
  5. Should private sector investors receive government funding for tourism entertainment facilities? Should they be required to contribute their revenues to the community? Why or why not?
  6. Name a cultural or heritage attraction in your community. Where does its revenue come from? What are its major expenses? Who are its target markets? Based on this information, make three key recommendations for sustaining its business.
  7. Do you agree with certain animal rights groups that zoos should be shut down? Why or why not?

Case Study: Merridale Estate Cidery

Purchased by husband and wife team Janet Docherty and Rick Pipes in 2000, Merridale Estate Cidery is located in the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island. The cidery itself was established by the previous owner in 1990 who planted apple trees in the location, which is considered ideal by many for its terrain and climate.

With the purchase of the cidery, Janet and Rick undertook an extensive renovation in order to transform the facility into an agritourism attraction. They expanded the cellar and tasting rooms and created the Cider House in 2003 from which they began running tours and tastings. From there they added:

  • The Farmhouse Store with retail sales of their cider product, local agriculture products, and BC arts and crafts
  • The Bistro and Orchard Cookhouse, two distinct food and beverage operations
  • The Brick Oven Bakery (producing artisanal baked goods in its on-site brick oven)
  • Yurts (two cabin-style tents) for onsite accommodation

The cidery is now a destination for special events such as weddings. It also runs an InCider Club for frequent purchasers of its products.

Visit the Merridale website at and answer the following questions:

  1. What is Merridale’s core business?
  2. Who are its customers?
  3. Merridale comprises food and beverage, retail, accommodations, and is an attraction. How would you classify it as a tourism operation?
  4. Is Merridale a seasonal operation? What would you consider to be its peak season? How has it extended revenue-earning opportunities?
  5. Merridale’s slogan is “Apples Expressed.” Does this tagline capture its essence? Why or why not?
  6. Consider Merridale’s products, experiences, and markets. What partners should the cidery work with, either globally or locally, to attract business? Name at least three.
  7. Do you think Merridale should add components, or eliminate components, from its business? Explain your answer.


Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. (2014). The Canadian wine industry. Retrieved from

Botanic Gardens Conservation International. (2014). Welcome to BGCI Canada. Retrieved from

British Columbia Lottery Corporation. (2014). BCLC 2013-14 annual report. Retrieved from

Business Events Industry Coalition of Canada. (2014). Business events are big business. Retrieved from

Calgary Zoo. (2013). Calgary Zoo 2013 annual report. [PDF] Retrieved from

CAMDO. (2014). Canadian Art Museum Directors Organization blog. Retrieved from

Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums. (2014). About us. Retrieved from

Canadensis.(2014). FAQ. Retrieved from

Canadian Gaming Association. (2011, October 19). Canadian gaming industry matures into one of the largest entertainment industries in the country. Retrieved from

Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance. (2013). Value of sport tourism. Retrieved from

Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance. (2014). Sport tourism: Full steam ahead! Retrieved from

Canadian Tourism Commission. (1998). Canada’s tourist attractions: A statistical snapshot 1995-96.

Colston, K. (2014, April 24). Non-traditional event venues – Endless entertainment. Retrieved from

Destination BC. (2009, October). Wine tourism insight. [PDF] Retrieved from

Enigma Research Consultants. (2009). The economic impact of Canada’s largest events and festivals [PDF]. Retrieved from’s%20Largest%20Festivals%20and%20Events.pdf

Frank, Rimerman + Co. LLP. (2013). The economic impact of the wine and grape industry in Canada 2011. [PDF] Retrieved from

Getz, D. (1997). Event management and event tourism. New York, NY: Cognizant Communications, p.6.

Goldblatt, J. (2001). The international dictionary of event management (2nd ed.). New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, p. 78.

Government of Canada. (2014a). Funds awarded – Major events. Retrieved from

Government of Canada. (2014b). Survey of heritage institutions: 2011. [PDF] Canadian Heritage. Retrieved from

Government of Canada. (2014c). Performing arts, operating statistics. Retrieved from

Government of Canada. (2014d). Amusement and recreation, summary statistics. Retrieved from

Grishkewich, Cheryl. (2012, January 12). Culinary tourists: Recipe for economic development success. Retrieved from:

HelloBC. (2014, October 20). Down on the farm: Agritourism in BC. Retrieved from–agritourism-in-bc.aspx

LinkBC. (2012). Cultural & heritage tourism: A handbook for community champions. [PDF] Retrieved from

Motion Picture Association – Canada. (2013). Issues and positions. [PDF] Retrieved from

Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance. (2013). Culinary tourism: A definition. Retrieved from:

Pacific National Exhibition. (n.d.). About us. Retrieved from

PETA – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. (2014). Our views. Retrieved from

Society of Incentive Travel Excellence. (2014). History. Retrieved from

SOTC – Southwest Ontario Tourism Corporation. (2011). What is agritourism? Retrieved from

Swarbrooke, J. (2002). The development & management of visitor attractions, 2nd ed. Oxford, UK: Butterworth Heinemann.

Toronto Zoo. (2010). Toronto Zoo 2010 annual report [PDF]. Retrieved from

United Nations World Tourism Organization. (2012). Global report on food tourism. Retrieved from

Vancouver Aquarium. (2013). Vancouver Aquarium annual report 2013 [PDF]. Retrieved from:

Wald, C. (2014, November). Is the future of zoos no zoos at all? The Atlantic. Retrieved from


Figure 6.1 Labyrinth of Light by Tavis Ford is used under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

Figure 6.2  Cornucopia :: Whistler’s Celebration of Wine & Food by Shinsuke Ikegame is used under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

Figure 6.3 Pan Pacific Vancouver and the Vancouver Convention Center by Pan Pacific is used under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

Figure 6.4 Pioneer by J Scott is used under a CC-BY-SA 2.0 license.

Figure 6.5 yoshiko by Raul Pacheco-Vega is used under a CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

Figure 6.6 Swingers and Spinners | The PNE Fairgrounds by Rikki/Julius Reque is used under a CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.

Figure 6.7 Edgewater Casino by colink is used under a CC-BY-SA 2.0 license.

Figure 6.8 Saturna Vineyards by David Stanley is used under a CC-BY 2.0 license.


Chapter 7. Travel Services

Heather Knowles and Morgan Westcott

Learning Objectives

  • Describe the key characteristics of the travel services sector
  • Define key travel services terminology
  • Differentiate between types of reservation systems and booking channels
  • Discuss the impacts of online travel agents on consumers and the sector
  • Identify key travel services and organizations in Canada and British Columbia
  • Explain the importance of additional tourism services not covered under NAICS
  • Describe key trends and issues in travel services worldwide


Figure 7.1 The homepage of, a site where consumers can research and plan their trip to British Columbia

The travel services sector is made up of a complex web of relationships between a variety of suppliers, tourism products, destination marketing organizations, tour operators, and travel agents, among many others. Under the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), travel services comprises businesses and functions that assist with planning and reserving components of the visitor experience (Government of Canada, 2014).

Before we move on, let’s explore the term travel services a little more. As detailed in Chapter 1, Canada, the United States, and Mexico all use NAICS guidelines, which define the tourism industry as consisting of transportation, accommodation, food and beverage, recreation and entertainment, and travel services.

For many years, however, the tourism industry was classified into eight sectors: accommodations, adventure and recreation, attractions, events and conferences, food and beverage, tourism services, transportation, and travel trade (Yukon Department of Tourism and Culture, 2013). As you can see, most of these — from accommodations to food and beverage — remain virtually the same under NAICS and have been covered thus far in this textbook.

Tourism services support industry development and the delivery of guest experiences, and some of these are missing from the NAICS classification. To ensure you have a complete picture of the tourism industry in BC, this chapter will cover both the NAICS travel services activities and some additional tourism services.

First, we’ll review the components of travel services as identified under NAICS, exploring the function of each area and ways they interact:

  1. Travel agencies
  2. Online travel agencies (OTAs)
  3. Tour operators
  4. Destination marketing organizations (DMOs)
  5. Other organizations

Following these definitions and descriptions, we’ll take a look at some other support functions that fall under tourism services. These include sector organizations, tourism and hospitality human resources organizations, training providers, educational institutions, government branches and ministries, economic development and city planning offices, and consultants.

Finally, we’ll look at issues and trends in travel services, both at home, and abroad.

Components of Travel Services

While the application of travel services functions are structured somewhat differently around the world, there are a few core types of travel services in every destination. Essentially, travel services are those processes used by guests to book components of their trip. Let’s explore these services in more detail.

Travel Agencies

Althams travel store front
Figure 7.2 A travel agency in the United Kingdom

A travel agency is a business that operates as the intermediary between the travel industry (supplier) and the traveller (purchaser). Part of the role of the travel agency is to market prepackaged travel tours and holidays to potential travellers. The agency can further function as a broker between the traveller and hotels, car rentals, and tour companies (Goeldner & Ritchie, 2003). Travel agencies can be small and privately owned or part of a larger entity.

A travel agent is the direct point of contact for a traveller who is researching and intending to purchase packages and experiences through an agency. Travel agents can specialize in certain types of travel including specific destinations; outdoor adventures; and backpacking, rail, cruise, cycling, or culinary tours, to name a few. These specializations can help travellers when they require advice about their trips. Some travel agents operate at a fixed address and others offer services both online and at a bricks-and-mortar location. Travellers are then able to have face-to-face conversations with their agents and also reach them by phone or by email. Travel agents usually have a specialized diploma or certificate in travel agent/travel services (go2HR, 2014).

Today, travellers have the option of researching and booking everything they need online without the help of a travel agent. As technology and the internet are increasingly being used to market destinations, people can now choose to book tours with a particular agency or agent, or they can be fully independent travellers (FITs), creating their own itineraries.

Online Travel Agents (OTAs)

Increasing numbers of FITs are turning to online travel agents (OTAs), companies that aggregate accommodations and transportation options and allow users to choose one or many components of their trip based on price or other incentives. Examples of OTAs include,,, and OTAs are gaining popularity with the travelling public; in 2012, they reported online sales of almost $100 billion (Carey, Kang, & Zea, 2012) and almost triple that figure, upward of $278 billion, in 2013 (The Economist, 2014).

In early 2015 Expedia purchased Travelocity for $280 million, merging two of the world’s largest travel websites. Expedia became the owner of, Hotwire, Egencia, and Travelocity brands, facing its major competition from Priceline (Alba, 2015).

Although OTAs can provide lower-cost travel options to travellers and the freedom to plan and reserve when they choose, they have posed challenges for the tourism industry and travel services infrastructure. As evidenced by the merger of Expedia and Travelocity, the majority of popular OTA sites are owned by just a few companies, causing some concern over lack of competition between brands. Additionally, many OTAs charge accommodation providers and operators a commission to be listed in their inventory system. Commission-based services, as applied by Kayak, Expedia, Hotwire,, and others, can have an impact on smaller operators who cannot afford to pay commissions for multiple online inventories (Carey, Kang & Zea, 2012). Being excluded from listings can decrease the marketing reach of the product to potential travellers, which is a challenge when many service providers in the tourism industry are small or medium-sized businesses with budgets to match.

Finally, governments are stepping in as they see OTAs as a barrier to collecting full tax revenues on accommodations and transportations sold in their jurisdictions. OTAs frequently charge taxes on the retail price of the component; however, they purchase these products at a discount, remitting only the portion collected on the lesser amount to the government. In other words, the OTA pockets the difference between taxes collected and taxes remitted (Associated Press, 2014).

Some believe this practice shortchanges the destination that is ultimately responsible for delivering the tourism experience. These communities rely on tax revenue to pay for infrastructure related to the visitor experience. Recent lawsuits, including one by the state of Montana against a group of OTAs, have highlighted this challenge. To date, the courts have sided with OTAs, sending the message that these companies are not responsible for collecting tax on behalf of government (Associated Press, 2014).

While the industry and communities struggle to keep up with the changing dynamics of travel sales, travellers are adapting to this new world order. One of these adaptations is the ever-increasing use of mobile devices for travel booking. The Expedia Future of Travel Report found that 49% of travellers from the millennial generation (which includes those born between 1980 and 1999) use mobile devices to book travel (Expedia Inc., 2014), and these numbers are expected to continue to increase. Travel agencies are reacting by developing personalized features for digital travellers and mobile user platforms (ETC Digital, 2014). With the number of smartphones users expected to reach 1.75 billion in 2014 (CWT Travel Management Institute, 2014) these agencies must adapt as demand dictates.

A chunky computer with a black and green screen.
Figure 7.3 This is what a computer looked like in 1996. Less than 20 years later you can access the world from your mobile phone.

A key feature of travel agencies’ mobile services (and to a growing extent transportation carriers) includes the ability to have up-to-date itinerary changes and information sent directly to their phone (Amadeus, 2014). By using mobile platforms that can develop customized, up-to-date travel itineraries for clients, agencies and operators are able to provide a personal touch, ideally increasing customer satisfaction rates.

Take a Closer Look: Expedia – The Future of Travel Report

Expedia is the largest online travel agency in the world. Formed in 1996, Expedia Inc. now oversees a variety of online travel booking companies. Together they provide travellers with the option to book flights, hotels, tours, and transportation through mobile or desktop online functions. For more on Expedia’s thoughts on the future of travel, read its report at Expedia’s report on the Future of Travel:

Despite the growth and demand for OTAs, travel agencies are still in demand by leisure travellers (Hotel Marketing, 2013). The same is true for business travellers, especially in markets such as China and Latin America. Business clients in these emerging markets place a premium on “high-touch” services, such as paper tickets delivered by hand, and in-person reservations services (BTN Group, 2014).

Tour Operators

People walk aross the snow with their bus parked behind them.
Figure 7.4 A group tours the Columbia ice field in Alberta

A tour operator packages all or most of the components of an offered trip and then sells them to the traveller. These packages can also be sold through retail outlets or travel agencies (CATO, 2014; Goeldner & Ritchie, 2003). Tour operators work closely with hotels, transportation providers, and attractions in order to purchase large volumes of each component and package these at a better rate than the traveller could if purchasing individually. Tour operators generally sell to the leisure market.

Inbound, Outbound, and Receptive Tour Operators

Tour operators may be inbound, outbound, or receptive:

Destination Marketing Organizations

Destination marketing organizations (DMOs) include national tourism boards, state/provincial tourism offices, and community convention and visitor bureaus around the world. DMOs promote “the long-term development and marketing of a destination, focusing on convention sales, tourism marketing and service” (DMAI, 2014).

Spotlight On: Destination Marketing Association International

Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) is the global trade association for official DMOs. It is made up of over 600 official DMOs in 15 countries around the world. DMAI provides its members with information, resources, research, networking opportunities, professional development, and certification programs. For more information, visit the Destination Marketing Association International website:

With the proliferation of other planning and booking channels, including OTAs, today’s DMOs are shifting away from travel services functions and placing a higher priority on destination management components.

Working Together

One way tour operators, DMOs, and travel agents work together is by participating in familiarization tours (FAMs for short). These are usually hosted by the local DMO and include visits to different tour operators within a region. FAM attendees can be media, travel agents, RTO representatives, and tour operator representatives. FAMs are frequently low to no cost for the guests as the purpose is to orient them to the tour product or experience so they can promote or sell it to potential guests.

Other Organizations

The majority of examples in this chapter so far have pertained to leisure travellers. There are, however, specialty organizations that deal specifically with business trips.

Spotlight On: Global Business Travel Association Canada

Internationally, the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) represents over 7,000 business travel agents and corporate travel and meeting managers who collectively manage over $340 billion in business travel and meetings each year (GBTA, 2014). The Canadian chapter, headquartered in Ontario, holds annual events and shares resources on its website. For more information, visit the Global Business Travel Association:

Business Travel Planning and Reservations

Unlike leisure trips, which are generally planned and booked by end consumers using their choice of tools, business travel often involves a travel management company, or its online tools. Travel managers negotiate with suppliers and ensure that all the trip components are cost effective and comply with the policies of the organization.

Many business travel planners rely on global distribution systems (GDS) to price and plan components. GDS combine information from a group of suppliers, such as airlines. In the past, this has created a chain of information from the supplier to GDS to the travel management company. Today, however, there is a push from airlines (through the International Air Transport Association’s Resolution 787) to dissolve the GDS model and forge direct relationships with buyers (BTN Group, 2014).

Destination Management Companies

According to the Association of Destination Management Executives (ADME), a destination management company (DMC) specializes in designing and implementing corporate programs, including “events, activities, tours, transportation and program logistics” (ADME, 2014). The packages produced by DMCs are extraordinary experiences rather than general business trips. These are typically used as employee incentives, corporate retreats, product launches, and loyalty programs. DMCs are the one point of contact for the client corporation, arranging for airfare, airport transfers, ground transportation, meals, special activities, and special touches such as branded signage, gifts, and decor (ADME, 2014). The end user is simply given (or awarded) the package and then liaises with the DMC to ensure particular arrangements meet his or her needs and schedule.

As you can see, travel services range from online to personal, and from leisure to business applications. Now that you have a general sense of the components of travel services, let’s look at some examples in Canada and BC.

Travel Services in Canada and BC

Travel Agencies

In British Columbia and elsewhere in Canada, many agencies are members of the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA). ACTA is an industry-led, membership-based organization that aims to ensure customers have professional and meaningful counselling. Membership is optional, but it does offer the benefit of ensuring customers receive the required services and that the travel agencies have a membership board for reference and industry resources (ACTA, 2014).

Spotlight On: Travel CUTS Travel Agency

Travel CUTS is 100% Canadian owned and operated. As a student, you may have seen its locations on or around campus. With a primary audience of postsecondary students, professors, and alumni, Travel CUTS specializes in backpack-style travel to a variety of destinations. It is a full-service travel agency that can help find flights for travel, book tours with a variety of companies including GAdventures or Intrepid Travel, assist in booking hostels or hotels, and even help with the SWAP overseas VISA program. For more information, visit Travel CUTS:

Although travel agencies may be located in a specific community, the agencies and their representatives may operate internationally, within Canada, within BC, or across regions. In Vancouver alone there are over 500 travel agencies available to the searching traveller (Travel Agents in BC, 2014). Examples of some of the more recognized larger travel agencies and agents operating in BC include the British Columbia Automobile Association (BCAA), Marlin Travel, and Flight Centre.

Tour Operators

Many different types of tour operators work across BC and Canada. Tour operators can specialize in any sector or a combination of sectors. A company may focus on ski experiences, as is the case with Destination Snow, or perhaps wine tours in the Okanagan, which is the specialty of Distinctly Kelowna Tours. These operators specialize in one area but there are others that work with many different service providers.

Spotlight On: Canadian Association of Tour Operators

The Canadian Association of Tour Operators (CATO) is a membership-based organization that serves as the voice of the tour operator segment and engages in professional development and networking in the sector. For more information, visit the Canadian Association of Tour Operators:

Tour operators can vary in size, niche market, and operation capacity (time of year). An example of a niche BC tour operator is Prince of Whales Whale Watching in Victoria. Prince of Whales offers specialty whale-watching tours year-round in a variety of boat sizes, working with the local DMO and other local booking agents to sell tours as part of packages or as a stand-alone service to travellers. It also works to sell its product directly to the potential traveller through its website, reservation number, and in-person sales agents (Prince of Whales, 2014).

Killer whales coming up for air.
Figure 7.5 Whales off of Victoria, BC

Examples of large RTOs representing Canada internationally include Jonview or CanTours. Operators of all kinds frequently work closely with a number of destination marketing organizations, as evidenced during Canada’s West Marketplace, which is a trade marketplace hosted by Destination BC and Travel Alberta. Each year the location of the marketplace alternates between Alberta and BC (past locations have included Kelowna and Canmore). This event provides an opportunity for Alberta and BC sellers (tour operators, local accommodation, activities, and DMOs) to sell their products to international RTOs who in turn work with international tour operators and travel agents to repackage the travel products. In a span of 10-minute sessions, sellers market and promote their products in hopes of having an RTO pick up the package for future years.

On a national scale, Rendez-vous Canada is a tourism marketplace presented by the Canadian Tourism Commission that brings together more than 1,500 tourism professionals from around the world for a series of 12- minute sessions where they can learn more about Canadian tours and related services (Canadian Tourism Commission, 2015).

Let’s now look a little closer at the role of BC destination marketing organizations (DMOs) in providing travel services.

Destination Marketing Organizations

At the national level, the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) is responsible for strategic marketing of the country. It works with industry and government while providing resources for small and medium-sized businesses in the form of toolkits. In BC, there a variety of travel service providers available to help with the planning process including Destination BC/HelloBC, regional destination marketing organizations (RDMOs), and local DMOs.

Destination BC/HelloBC

HelloBC is the official travel service platform of Destination BC, British Columbia’s provincial DMO. offers access to festival activities, accommodation, transportation options, and trip ideas. This website is complemented by a social media presence through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (HelloBC, 2014a). Although the online resources are highly detailed, visitors also have the option of ordering a paper copy of the BC Travel Guide.

To assist with trip planning, HelloBC features a booking agent system, offering discounts and special deals created in partnership with operators. Although the site can process these value-added components, it does not handle accommodation bookings, instead directing the interested party to the reservation system of a chosen provider.

Figure 7.6 Cyclists make a stop at a Visitor Centre, with its distinctive blue and yellow logo

In addition to operating HelloBC, Destination BC also oversees a network of 136 Visitor Centres that can be identified by the blue and yellow logo. These are a source of itinerary information for the FIT and a purchase point for travellers wishing to book trip components (HelloBC, 2014b).

Regional Destination Marketing Organizations

BC is divided into five regional destination marketing organizations, or RDMOs: Vancouver Island, Thompson Okanagan, Northern British Columbia, Cariboo Chilcotin Coast and the Kootenay Rockies (HelloBC, 2014c). Along with Destination BC, these RDMOs work to market their particular region.

People carrying large backpacks hike through a forest.
Figure 7.7 A tour group in the Kootenay Rockies

Housed within the HelloBC online platform, each RDMO has an online presence and travel guide specific to the region as well as a regional social media presence. These guides are important as they allow regional operators to participate in the guide and consumer website in order to encourage visitation to the area and build their tourism operations.

Take a Closer Look: BC’s Regional DMOs

For more information on each RMDO, visit the following consumer and industry sites:

Vancouver Island
Consumer: Vancouver Island:
Industry: Vancouver Island:

Thompson Okanagan
Consumer: Okanagan:
Industry: Okanagan:

Northern British Columbia
Consumer: Northern BC:
Industry: Northern BC:

Cariboo Chilcotin Coast
Consumer: Cariboo Chilcotin Coast:
Industry: Cariboo Chilcotin Coast:

Kootenay Rockies
Consumer: Kootenay Rockies:
Industry: Kootenay Rockies:

Community Destination Marketing Organizations

Community destination marketing organizations (CDMOs) are responsible for marketing a specific destination or area, such as Whistler or Kimberley. Travel services typically offered include hotel search engines, specific destination packages and offers, discounts, events and festival listings, and other information of interest to potential visitors. In the absence of a CDMO, sometimes these services are provided by the local chamber of commerce or economic development office.

Spotlight On: Tourism Tofino 

Tourism Tofino is the local DMO for the Tofino area, located on the west side of Vancouver Island. Tofino is a destination region that attracts travellers to Pacific Rim National Park, surfing opportunities, storm watching, and the Pacific Ocean. As part of its marketing tactics, Tourism Tofino offers visitors key planning tools on the landing site. To encourage shoulder season visitation, storm-watching deals are highlighted, which also allows visitors to inquire directly with the accommodation provider and/or tour operator. For more information, visit Tourism Tofino:

Complementing BC’s Visitor Centre network mentioned earlier, local visitor centres are managed by individual communities. Visitor centres may be housed in gateway buildings at strategic locations, in historic or cultural buildings, or at an office located in town. They are designed to provide general information to travellers and may include other services such as booking hotels, free Wi-Fi, and help from a visitor information counsellor (SGSEP, 2012).

Other Systems and Organizations

A number of customized and targeted reservation systems are used by BC DMOs and other organizations. One example is the BC campground reservation online booking systems. BC Parks, Parks Canada, and private campground operators all use different proprietary reservation systems. Both BC Parks and Parks Canada reservation systems open on a specific date in the spring for bookings later in the year. These systems let visitors review what a site looks like through photos or video and pick which site they would like to book in the campground. Many campgrounds also offer a first-come-first-served system, as well as overflow sites, to accommodate visitors who may not have reserved a site.

In the business market, there are several companies in BC and Canada that facilitate planning and booking. Concur is an example of a travel management company widely used in British Columbia and Canada by organizations including CIBC, Kellogg’s, and Pentax. It provides services including trip planning software for use by employees, expense and invoicing software for use by managers, and a mobile application that ensures clients can take the technology on the go. Its services have contributed to client savings, such as reducing the travel expenses for one client by almost one-fifth in their first year of use in Ontario (Concur, 2014).

BC is home to several DMCs including Cantrav, Pacific Destination Services, and Rare Indigo (Tourism Vancouver, 2014). All offer event services as well as turnkey operations (where all logistics are handled by the DMC and invoiced to the corporation).

So far we’ve looked at travel services as defined by NAICS. Next let’s have a closer look at additional services generally considered to be part of the tourism economy.

Tourism Services

Many organizations can have a hand in tourism development. These include:

The rest of this section describes Canadian and BC-based examples of these.

Sector-Specific Associations

Numerous not-for-profit and arm’s-length organizations drive the growth of specific segments of our industry. Examples of these associations can be found throughout this textbook in the Spotlight On features, and include groups like:

These can serve as regulatory bodies, advocacy agencies, certification providers, and information sources.

Tourism and Hospitality Human Resource Support

The Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council (CTHRC) is a national sector council responsible for best practice research, training, and other professional development support on behalf of the 174,000 tourism businesses and the 1.75 million people employed in tourism-related occupations across the country. In BC, an organization called go2HR serves to educate employers on attracting, training, and retaining employees, as well as hosts a tourism job board to match prospective employees with job options in tourism around the province.

Training Providers

Throughout this textbook, you’ll see examples of not-for-profit industry associations that provide training and certification for industry professionals. For example, the Association of Canadian Travel Agents offers a full-time and distance program to train for the occupation of certified travel counsellor. Closer to home, an organization called WorldHost, a division of Destination BC, offers world-class customer service training.

You’ll learn more about training providers and tourism human resources development in Chapter 9: Customer Service.

Educational Institutions

A man stands at a lecturn and speads to a crowd.
Figure 7.8 President and CEO of Tourism Vancouver, Rick Antonson, at a LinkBC networking event in early 2014

British Columbia is also home to a number of high-quality public and private colleges and universities that offer tourism-related educational options. Training options at these colleges and universities include certificates, diplomas, degrees and masters-level programs in adventure tourism, outdoor recreation, hospitality management, and tourism management. Whether students are learning how to manage a restaurant at Camosun College, gaining mountain adventure skills at College of the Rockies, or exploring the world of outdoor recreation and tourism management at the University of Northern BC, tomorrow’s workforce is being prepared by skilled instructors with solid industry experience.

Spotlight On: LinkBC

LinkBC is a membership-based organization that receives funding from Destination BC to support students and instructors at postsecondary institutions in connecting with the tourism industry. It hosts an annual Student Case Competition, a networking event called Student-Industry Rendezvous, and provides students with information about education options at its study tourism in BC website. For more information, visit the LinkBC website: or Study Tourism in BC:

Government Departments

At the time this chapter was written, there were at least eight distinct provincial government ministries that had influence on tourism and hospitality development in British Columbia. These are:

Ministry names and responsibilities may change over time, but the functions performed by provincial ministries are critical to tourism operators and communities, as are the functions of similar departments at the federal level.

At the community level, tourism functions are often performed by planning officers, economic development officers, and chambers of commerce.


A final, hidden layer to the travel services sector is that of independent consultants and consulting firms. These people and companies offer services to the industry in a business-to-business format, and they vary from individuals to small-scale firms to international companies. In BC, tourism-based consulting firms include:

For many people trained in specific industry fields, consulting offers the opportunity to give back to the industry while maintaining workload flexibility.

Trends and Issues

Now that we have an understanding of the travel and tourism services providers in BC, let’s review some of the current trends and issues in the sector.


In the travel services sector, providers such as OTAs and business travel managers must constantly be aware of price sensitivity. Many tourism services organizations are not-for-profit entities that rely on membership dues, donations, grants, and government funding to survive. As the economic climate becomes strained and budgets are tightened, all groups are increasingly forced to demonstrate return on investment to stakeholders. As some of the benefits of travel services are difficult to define, groups must innovate or face extinction.

The challenge of budget constraints came to life in late 2014 when Destination BC announced it was shutting down its Visitor Centres at Vancouver International Airport and reviewing five other gateway locations including Peace Arch and Golden. While the airport locations welcomed over 180,000 visitors per year, analysis performed by Destination BC showed guests were asking non-tourism questions, and the centres’ value was questioned. Closing the centres at the airport, it was determined, would save $500,000 per year — but some in the industry were left wondering why they weren’t consulted prior to the announcement (Smyth, 2014).


Figure 7.9 Tablets, laptops, and mobile phones put reservations and booking options at the traveller’s fingertips.

As discussed earlier, online travel agencies have revolutionized the sector in a short span of time. Online travel bookings and marketing accounts for roughly one-third of all global e-commerce, and according to many these continue to rattle the sector.

Take a Closer Look: The Trouble with Travel Distribution

This report, by McKinsey & Company, addresses the widespread impact of technological innovations on the travel services sector. To view the report online, visit The Trouble with Travel Distribution:

That said, OTAs and other technology providers can benefit operators and the travel services sector as a whole. Keeping in mind that travel services pertain to the planning and reserving of trip components, recent beneficial technologic improvements include the following (Orfutt, 2013):

These innovations will likely increase as more advances are made. They also have significant implications for the marketing of travel products and experiences, which is explored more in Chapter 8.


In a time when financial resources are limited and competition for tourist dollars is strong, the travel services sector is being forced to innovate at a startling rate. With the emergence of OTAs and the rapid pace of change, it’s likely the travel services landscape will be radically different by the time you read this.

Just 20 years ago, the travel agent was paramount for booking both leisure and business travel, while today’s traveller can book a trip using a phone in a matter of minutes. This is one sector with challenging and exciting times ahead.

To this point we have learned about the five sectors of tourism: transportation, accommodation, food and beverage, recreation and entertainment, and travel services. With this foundation in place, let’s delve deeper into the industry by learning more about how these sectors are promoted to customers in Chapter 8 on services marketing.

Key Terms

  • Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA): a trade organization established in 1977 to ensure high standards of customer service, engage in advocacy for the trade, conduct research, and facilitate travel agent training
  • Canada’s West Marketplace: a partnership between Destination BC and Travel Alberta, showcasing BC travel products in a business-to-business sales environment
  • Canadian Association of Tour Operators (CATO): a membership-based organization that serves as the voice of the tour operator segment and engages in professional development and networking in the sector
  • Community destination marketing organization (CDMO): a DMO that represents a city or town
  • Destination management company (DMC): a company that creates and executes corporate travel and event packages designed for employee rewards or special retreats
  • Destination marketing organizations (DMOs): also known as destination management organizations; includes national tourism boards, state/provincial tourism offices, and community convention and visitor bureaus
  • Familiarization tours (FAMs): tours provided to overseas travel agents, travel agencies, RTOs, and others to provide information about a certain product at no or minimal cost to participants — the short form is pronounced like the start of the word family (not as each individual letter)
  • Fully independent traveller (FIT): a traveller who makes his or her own arrangements for accommodations, transportation, and tour components; is independent of a group
  • HelloBC: online travel services platform of Destination BC providing information to the visitor and potential visitor for trip planning purposes
  • Inbound tour operator: an operator who packages products together to bring visitors from external markets to a destination
  • Online travel agent (OTA): a service that allows the traveller to research, plan, and purchase travel without the assistance of a person, using the internet on sites such as or
  • Outbound tour operator: an operator who packages and sells travel products to people within a destination who want to travel abroad
  • Receptive tour operator (RTO): someone who represents the products of tourism suppliers to tour operators in other markets in a business-to-business (B2B) relationship
  • Regional destination marketing organization (RDMO): in BC, one of the five DMOs that represent a specific tourism region
  • Tour operator: an operator who packages suppliers together (hotel + activity) or specializes in one type of activity or product
  • Tourism services: other services that work to support the development of tourism and the delivery of guest experiences
  • Travel agency: a business that provides a physical location for travel planning requirements
  • Travel agent: an individual who helps the potential traveller with trip planning and booking services, often specializing in specific types of travel
  • Travel services: under NAICS, businesses and functions that assist with the planning and reserving components of the visitor experience
  • Visitor centre: a building within a community usually placed at the gateway to an area, providing information regarding the region, travel planning tools, and other services including washrooms and Wi-Fi


  1. Explain, either in words or with a diagram, the relationship between an RTO, tour operator, and travel agent.
  2. What type of services does HelloBC provide to the traveller? List regional services from your area that are currently offered.
  3. Who operates the provincial network of Visitor Centres? Where are these centres located?
  4. List the RDMOs operating within BC. How do each of these work to provide information to the traveller?
  5. List two positives and two negatives of OTAs within the travel services industry.
  6. With an increase growth in mobile technology, how are travel services adapting to suit the needs and/or demands of the traveller?
  7. Choose an association that is representative of the sector you might like to work in (e.g., accommodations, food and beverage, travel services). Explore the association’s website and note three key issues it has identified and how it is responding to them.
  8. Choose a local tourism or hospitality business and find out which associations it belongs to. List the associations and their membership benefits to answer the question, Why belong to this group?

Case Study: Online Travel Agents Sue

In late 2014, an online travel agent and airline combined forces to sue a 22-year-old and his company Skiplagged helped users find less expensive flights by uncovering “hidden city” tickets. These are flights with stopovers in multiple locations, whereby the passenger gets off at one of the stopover cities rather than the final destination (Harris and Sasso, 2014).

Hidden city tickets work when the cost to travel from point A to point B to point C is less expensive than a trip from point A to point B. Passengers book the entire flight but get off at the stopover. This practice is generally forbidden by airlines because of safety concerns and challenges to logistics as it renders passenger counts inaccurate, causing potential delays and fuel miscalculations. If discovered, it can result in a passenger having his or her ticket voided.

The lawsuit against Skiplagged founder Aktarer Zaman stated that the site “intentionally and maliciously … [promoted] prohibited forms of travel” (Harris and Sasso, 2014, ¶ 4). Orbitz (an OTA) and United Airlines claimed that Zaman’s website unfairly competed with their business, while making it appear these companies were partners and endorsing the activity by linking to their websites.

Based on this case summary, answer the following questions:

  1. What are the dangers and inconveniences of having passengers deplane partway through a voyage? In addition to those listed here, come up with two more.
  2. Could this lawsuit and the ensuing publicity result in unintended negative consequences for United and Orbitz? What might these be?
  3. On the other hand, could the suit have unintended positive results for Try to name at least three.
  4. Should Zaman be held responsible for facilitating this type of travel already in practice? Or should passengers bear the responsibility? Why or why not?
  5. Imagine your flight is delayed because a passenger count is inaccurate and fuel must be recalculated. What action would you take, if any?
  6. Look up the case to see what updates are available (United Airlines Inc. v. Zaman, 14-cv-9214, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago). Was the outcome what you predicted? Why or why not?


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Offutt, B. (2013). PhoCusWright’s travel innovations & technology trends: 2013 and beyond. [PDF] Retrieved from

Prince of Whales. (2014).  About us. Retrieved from

SGSEP. (2012). Trends in visitor information centres. [PDF] Urbecon, 1.  Retrieved from

Smyth, M. (2014, November 20). Why is the BC government shutting down popular tourist info without consulting industry? The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved from

Tourism Vancouver. (2014). Destination management companies. Retrieved from

Travel Agents in BC. (2014). Travel agents. Retrieved from

Yukon Department of Tourism and Culture. (2013). Tourism sectors. Retrieved from


Figure 7.1 HelloBC Homepage by LinkBC is used under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

Figure 7.2 Travels Agent, Huddersfield by Dave Collier is used under a CC-BY-ND 2.0 license.

Figure 7.3 my AT&T PC 6300 circa 1996 by Blake Patterson is used under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

Figure 7.4 Up on the glacier by Paul Gorbould is used under a CC BY NC ND 2.0 license.

Figure 7.5 Whales off Victoria, BC by Brian Estabrooks is used under a CC-BY-SA 2.0 license.

Figure 7.6 Visitor Information by Heather Harvey is used under a CC-BY-SA 2.0 license.

Figure 7.7 Floe Lake, Kootenay National Park 037 by Adam Kahtava is used under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

Figure 7.8 Tourism Vancouver’s Rick Antonson addresses the audience at Rendezvous by LinkBC is used under a CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.

Figure 7.9 5 Top Rated Tablet PCs by Siddartha Thota is used under a CC-BY 2.0 license.


Chapter 8. Services Marketing

Ray Freeman and Kelley Glazer

Learning Objectives

  • Explain the meaning of services marketing
  • Describe the differences between marketing services and marketing products
  • Describe the characteristics of a marketing orientation and its benefits
  • Define key services marketing terminology
  • Explain the PRICE concept of marketing
  • Provide examples of the 8 Ps of services marketing
  • Gain knowledge of key service marketing issues and trends


Econo-Travel Hotel Marketing Ad. Long description available.
Figure 8.1 A vintage ad marketing the cost-effectiveness of Econo-Travel hotels from the July 1978 National Geographic [Long Description]

Marketing is a continuous, sequential process through which management plans, researches, implements, controls, and evaluates activities designed to satisfy the customers’ needs and wants, and meet the organization’s objectives. According to Morrison (2010), services marketing “is a concept based on a recognition of the uniqueness of all services; it is a branch of marketing that specifically applies to the service industries”(p. 767).

Marketing in the tourism and hospitality industry requires an understanding of the differences between marketing goods and marketing services. To be successful in tourism marketing, organizations need to understand the unique characteristics of their tourism experiences, the motivations and behaviours of travelling consumers, and the fundamental differences between marketing goods and services.

The Evolution of Marketing

Until the 1930s, the primary objective of businesses was manufacturing, with little thought given to sales or marketing. In the 1930s, a focus on sales became more important; technological advances meant that multiple companies could produce similar goods, creating increased competition. Even as companies began to understand the importance of sales, the needs and wants of the customer remained a secondary consideration (Morrison, 2010).

In 1944, the first television commercial, for Bulova watches, reached 4,000 sets (Davis, 2013). The decades that followed, the 1950s and 1960s, are known as an era when marketing began to truly take off, with the number of mediums expanding and TV ad spending going from 5% of total TV revenues in 1953 to 15% just one year later (Davis, 2013).

A colourful poster that says,
Figure 8.2 A 1970s Peter Max-designed ad for the American Cancer Society urging people to not smoke

The era from approximately 1950 to around 1970 was known as a time of marketing orientation (Morrison, 2010). Customers had more choice in product, this required companies to shift focus to ensure that consumers knew how their products matched specific needs. This was also the time where quality of service and customer satisfaction became part of organizational strategy. We began to see companies develop internal marketing departments, and in the 1960s, the first full-service advertising agencies began to emerge.

Societal marketing emerged in the 1970s when organizations began to recognize their place in society and their responsibility to citizens (or at least the appearance thereof). This change is demonstrated, for example, by natural resource extraction companies supporting environmental management issues and implementing more transparent policies. This decade saw the emergence of media we are familiar with today (the first hand-held mobile phone was launched in 1973) and the decline of traditional marketing through vehicles such as print; the latter evidenced by the closure of LIFE Magazine in 1972 amid complaints that TV advertising was too difficult to compete with (Davis, 2013).

The mid-1990s ushered in the start of the online marketing era. E-commerce (electronic commerce) revolutionized every industry, perhaps impacting the travel industry most of all. Tourism and hospitality service providers began making use of this technology to optimize marketing to consumers; manage reservations; facilitate transactions; partner and package itineraries; provide (multiple) customer feedback channels; collect, mine, analyze, and sell data; and automate functions. The marketing opportunities of this era appear limitless. Table 8.1 summarizes the evolution of marketing over the last century.

Table 8.1: Evolution of marketing in the 20th century
[Skip Table]
Timeframe Marketing Era
 1920-1930 Production orientation
1930-1950 Sales orientation
1950-1960 Marketing department (marketing orientation, internal agency)
1960-1970 Marketing company (marketing orientation, external agency)
1970-Present Societal marketing
1995-Present Online marketing
Data source: Morrison, 2010

Typically, the progression of marketing in tourism and hospitality has been 10 to 20 years behind other sectors. Some in the industry attribute this to the traditional career path in the tourism and hospitality industry where managers and executives worked their way up the ranks (e.g., from bellhop to general manager) rather than through a postsecondary business education. It was commonly believed that to be a leader in this industry one had to understand the operations inside-out, so training and development of managers was based on technical and functional capabilities, rather than marketing savvy. And, as we’ll learn next, marketing services and experiences is distinct and sometimes more challenging than marketing goods. For these reasons, most businesses in the industry have been developing marketing skills for only about 30 years (Morrison, 2010).

Differences Between Goods and Services

The Parliament buildings covered in Christmas lights at dusk reflect in the Victoria harbour.
Figure 8.3 Selling a moment like this one, captured over the holidays in Victoria’s harbour, is different from selling a tube of toothpaste.

There are four key differences between goods and services. According to numerous scholars (Regan; Rathmell; Shostack; Zeithaml et al. in Wolak, Kalafatis, & Harris, 1998) services are:

  1. Intangible
  2. Heterogeneous
  3. Inseparable (simultaneously produced and consumed)
  4. Perishable

The rest of this section details what these concepts mean.


Tangible goods are ones the customer can see, feel, and/or taste ahead of payment. Intangible services, on the other hand, cannot be “touched” beforehand. An airplane flight is an example of an intangible service because a customer purchases it in advance and doesn’t “experience” or “consume” the product until he or she is on the plane.


While most goods may be replicated identically, services are never exactly the same; they are heterogeneous. Variability in experiences may be caused by location, time, topography, season, the environment, amenities, events, and service providers. Because human beings factor so largely in the provision of services, the quality and level of service may differ between vendors or may even be inconsistent within one provider. We will discuss quality and level of service further in Chapter 9.


A physical good may last for an extended period of time (in some cases for many years). In contrast, a service is produced and consumed at the same time. A service exists only at the moment or during the period in which a person is engaged and immersed in the experience.

Figure 8.4 These empty seats represent lost revenue for the airline.


Services and experiences cannot be stored; they are highly perishable. In contrast, goods may be held in physical inventory in a lot, warehouse, or a store until purchased, then used and stored at a person’s home or place of work. If a service is not sold when available, it disappears forever. Using the airline example, once the airplane takes off, the opportunity to sell tickets on that flight is lost forever, and any empty seats represent revenue lost.

Planning for Services Marketing

To ensure effective services marketing, tourism marketers need to be strategic in their planning process. Using a tourism marketing system requires carefully evaluating multiple alternatives, choosing the right activities for specific markets, anticipating challenges, adapting to these challenges, and measuring success (Morrison, 2010). Tourism marketers can choose to follow a strategic management process called the PRICE concept, where they:

In this way, marketers can be more assured they are strategically satisfying both the customer’s needs and the organization’s objectives (Morrison, 2010). The relationship between company, employees, and customers in the services marketing context can be described as a services marketing triangle (Morrison, 2010), which is illustrated in Figure 8.5.

Marketing triangle. Long description available
Figure 8.5 Services marketing triangle [Long Description] (adapted from Morrison, 2010)

In traditional marketing, a business broadcasts messaging directly to the consumer. In contrast, in services marketing, employees play an integral component. The communications between the three groups can be summarized as follows (Morrison, 2010):

  1. External marketing: promotional efforts aimed at potential customers and guests (creating a promise between the organization and the guest)
  2. Internal marketing: training, culture, and internal communications (enabling employees to deliver on the promise)
  3. Interactive marketing: direct exchanges between employees and guests (delivering the promise)

The direct and indirect ways that a company or destination reaches its potential customers or guests can be grouped into eight concepts known as the 8 Ps of services marketing.

8 Ps of Services Marketing

The 8 Ps are best described as the specific components required to reach selected markets. In traditional marketing, there are four Ps: price, product, place, and promotion. In services marketing, the list expands to the following (Morrison, 2010):

It’s important that these components all work together in a seamless set of messages and activities known as integrated marketing communications, or IMC, to ensure the guests receive a clear message and an experience that meets their expectations.

Integrated Marketing Communications

The entrance to the Pacific Centre call disguised as an igloo.
Figure 8.6 During the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, many marketing partners came together to deliver an integrated experience to guests, including shopping malls disguised as igloos.

Integrated marketing communications (IMC) involves planning and coordinating all the promotional mix elements (including online and social media components) to be as consistent and mutually supportive as possible. This approach is much superior to using each element separately and independently.

Tour operators, attractions, hotels, and destination marketing organizations will often break down marketing into separate departments, losing the opportunity to ensure each activity is aligned with a common goal. Sometimes a potential visitor or guest is bombarded with messaging about independent destinations within a region, or businesses within a city, rather than one consistent set of messages about the core attributes of that destination.

It’s important to consider how consumers use various and multiple channels of communication and reach out to them in a comprehensive and coherent fashion. As a concept, IMC is not new, but it is more challenging than ever due to the numerous social media and unconventional communication channels now available. Each channel must be well maintained and aligned around the same messages, and selected with the visitor in mind. Too often businesses and destinations deploy multiple channels and end up neglecting some of these, rather than ensuring key platforms are well maintained (Eliason, 2014).

In order to better understand our guests, and the best ways to reach them, let’s take a closer look at the consumer as the starting and focal point of any marketing plan.

Consumer Behaviour in Tourism and Hospitality

Customers use their senses to see, hear, smell, and touch (and sometimes taste) to decipher messages from businesses, deciding on a product or service based on their perception of the facts rather than, at times, the actual facts. A number of factors have been shown to impact the choices the consumer makes, including personal factors, which reflect needs, wants, motivations, previous experience, and a person’s lifestyle, and interpersonal factors, such as culture, social class, family, and opinion leaders.

Perception Is Reality

The area of perception can be further broken down to screens and filters, biases, selective retention, and closure (Morrison, 2010). Let’s look at these concepts in more detail.

A man holding a hand in front of one eye. The eye is on his hand.
Figure 8.7 All people view things through their own perceptual filters.

The world is filled with things that stimulate people. People are exposed to thousands of messages every day. Some stimuli come from the people around us; for example, a person on the bus might be wearing a branded cap, the bus may have advertising pasted all over it, and free newspapers distributed at the bus station could be filled with advertising. The human brain cannot absorb and remember all of these messages; people will screen out most of the stimuli they are exposed to. They may remember a piece or segment of a message they have seen or heard.

Take a Closer Look: 100 BC Moments Vending Machine 

As part of a 2012 integrated campaign, Destination BC (then operating as Tourism BC) created a vending machine that offered users the opportunity to experience moments that could be part of their visit to British Columbia. At 14 feet tall, this vending machine dispensed free items like bikes, surfboards, and discounts on flights to encourage people to travel British Columbia. This experiential innovation was a way to provide a tangible element to intangible services. It was complemented by an online and social media campaign using the hashtag #100BCMoments and special web landing page at A video of the San Fransisco installation earned hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube; cutting through the clutter both in person and online. Watch it here: Giant Tourism BC Vending Machine comes to San Francisco:

Figure 8.8 A “vending machine” in San Francisco entices people to experience 100 BC Moments

Perceptual Biases

Everyone has perceptual biases; each person sees things from his or her own unique view of the world. An advertising message can be received and changed to something very different from the marketer’s intended statement.

Selective Retention

Once messages have made it through the screens, filters, and biases, they still may not be retained for long. Customers will practise selective retention, holding on only to the information that supports their beliefs and attitudes.


A picture focused through eye glasses.
Figure 8.9 People use multiple filters to process information.

The brain does not like incomplete images. There is a state of psychological tension present until the image is complete (closure). Where information is unavailable to round out the images, the mind adds the missing data. Over time, through the use of imagery and music (such as jingles), messages are ingrained in a customer’s mind, and he or she automatically adds the company’s name, whether it is mentioned or not.

Applying Psychology to Marketing

Marketers may determine a degree of predictability about customer perceptions. 

Customers are likely to:

Customers are less likely to:

Tourism marketers are in the business of reminding and making customers aware of their needs. Customers have to be motivated to act on satisfying their wants and needs, while marketers need to trigger the process by supplying objectives and potential motives.

Spotlight On: Tourism Victoria’s Visitor Centre

Tourism Victoria’s Visitor Centre is a member of the Visitor Centre Network. Staff are available to provide travellers with tourist information, assistance, and advice. The Tourism Victoria Visitor Centre provides travellers with a wide range of services, including professional visitor counselling, helpful travel information and literature, and accommodation reservations (Tourism Victoria, 2015).

Consumer Decision-Making Process

Figure 8.10 The Victoria Visitor Centre (at the base of the tower), located in downtown’s bustling harbour, helps consumers through the decision-making process.

In 1968, Kollat, Blackwell and Engel released the first edition of a book called Consumer Behavior where they identified a distinct five-step pattern for consumer decision-making (1972). These steps are: need recognition, information search, pre-purchase evaluation, purchase, and post-purchase evaluation.

Here are some critical components at each stage:

Spotlight On: BC Ferries Vacations

BC Ferries Vacations offers over 70 unique travel packages to 40 destinations, connecting travellers to unbeatable scenery, accommodations, and activities. With world-class hotels, activities, and adventures to choose from, travellers can experience BC’s pristine wildlife or urban coastal culture with each customized vacation package. BC Ferries Vacations travel experts help travellers create a personalized vacation complete with ferry reservations to bring all-in-one convenience, quality, and value. And, in partnership with some of BC’s best hotels, BC Ferries Vacations is able to provide customers with the best rates, customer service, and overall experiences, whether travelling to Vancouver, Victoria, the north coast, or to remote and amazing destinations in-between (BC Ferries Services, 2015).

In order to reach consumers and stimulate need, tourism marketers can employ a number of traditional and online channels. These are detailed in the next section.

Reaching the Consumer

Marketers have more choices than ever when it comes to broadcasting their message to consumers. Potential travellers and guests will respond, in varying degrees, to traditional channels and emerging online communications tools. There are many choices in marketing and communication channels, each with strengths and weaknesses. Determining the right mix, frequency, and message depends heavily on establishing objectives, completing research, performing a situational analysis, and creating a positioning approach (Morrison, 2010). Let’s take a closer look at communications channels that may form part of the marketing mix.

Traditional Channels

Mass Media

Mass media is best described as the use of channels that reach very large markets. Examples include national newspapers and radio or television advertising. The immediate advantage of using mass media is the ability to reach multiple target markets in significant numbers. Disadvantages include the high expense and difficulty in effective target marketing and measuring return.

An add for skiing on grouse mountain saying, "You deserve a little apres-work."
Figure 8.11 This is an out-of-home ad for Grouse Mountain, in a downtown Vancouver rapid transit station, targeting people working in the area. Note the special web address for the campaign: .

Out-Of-Home (OOH)

Out-of-home (OOH) channels refer to four major categories: billboards, transit, alternative outdoor, and street furniture.  OOH advertising plays an important role in the tourism and hospitality industry as it provides an opportunity to inform travellers in unfamiliar territory. Transit advertising includes airports, rail, and taxi displays. Alternative outdoor refers to arenas, stadiums, and digital media. Street furniture includes bus shelters, kiosks, and shopping malls.

Take a Closer Look: Tourism Business Essentials: Travel Media Relations Guide
Travel journalists, including bloggers, play an important role in ensuring a destination is well represented in the press. The Travel Media Relations Guide outlines how to invite, host, and follow up with media in the best way possible. To read the guide, visit Travel Media Relations Guide [PDF]:

Print Media

Print media includes newspapers, magazines, journals, and directories. There is an increased trend away from traditional purchased print advertising toward editorial features, as these are more trusted by consumers. A print ad and an editorial feature created together is known as an advertorial.

Spotlight On: The Tartan Group

Founded in the 1990s in Victoria, The Tartan Group is a public relations firm focusing on tourism and hospitality clients including Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, Harmony Hotel, Inn at Laurel Point, and Hotel Zed. The staff have extensive experience working in the industry, and the organization has relationships with multiple tourism associations and press groups. For more information, visit the Tartan Group website:

Online Channels

Figure 8.12 This is a webpage detailing cross-promotion and partnership between the Fairmont Empress Hotel and Helijet. Consumers are being offered this transportation option next to the hotel booking info.

As discussed in Chapter 7, the internet is nearly twice as important as travel agents as an information source for travel (Deloitte, 2015). There are an estimated 3 billion people around the globe with internet access, and social media has become truly integrated into the travel and hospitality industry. TripAdvisor and similar sites have become the customer’s first point of connection with tourism and hospitality products and experiences. This can be both an opportunity and a threat: an opportunity to open the channels of communication, but a threat if negative information about the travel or hospitality organization is widely spread. As online distribution expands, empowered and savvy travellers are unbundling the booking component and self-booking directly (Deloitte, 2015).

Internet and mobile technology are referred to as interactive media. For tourism and hospitality businesses, there are significant advantages to creating an online presence: it’s cost effective, it provides global reach, it allows a business to be available 24/7, and it provides a reciprocal communication platform for customers.

Social Media and Reputation Management

There are also challenges with online marketing, including being noticed within the volume of information customers are exposed to, and loss of control in delivering a message. Despite these challenges, as more consumers seek real-time information online, tourism marketers are responding with increasingly sophisticated online marketing strategies. This section draws from resources and expertise provided by WorldHost Training Services (2013).

Social Media

Social media is a broad term that refers to web-based and mobile applications used for social interaction and the exchange of content. Social networking is the act of using social media. Unlike traditional media such as newspapers, magazines, and television, social media is largely powered by user-generated content. This refers to content created and shared by consumers rather than by marketers, journalists, experts, and other paid professionals, although they too contribute to social networks.

Word of Mouth in the Age of Social Media

Social networking has transformed how many people interact with businesses and share experiences with others, in a communication channel known as word of mouth where customers share directly with each other. Consumers now have a variety of channels on which to express likes and dislikes, many of which have large audiences. Some of this commentary is made in real time, on a smartphone, while the customer is still in the business (WorldHost, 2013).

Advertising and Trust

Social networks, and review sites in particular, are used more and more to seek information and advice on things to do and products and services to purchase. Travellers and locals alike check out these sites for ideas on where to stay, eat, relax, shop, and explore. These channels are highly trusted. A survey of over 28,000 consumers in 56 countries found that consumers trust the advice of people they know (92%) and consumer opinions posted online (70%) more than any other advertising source (Nielsen, 2012).

Online Reviews = Business Success

Research shows a direct correlation between consumer reviews and purchase decisions. A 2011 survey by Phocuswright found that three in four active travellers cite reviews and photos as influential in choosing activities (PR Newswire, 2011). A 2011 study conducted by Harvard Business School found that, for independent restaurants, a one-star increase in Yelp ratings led to a 5% to 9% increase in revenue (Luca, 2011). And, according to a study by the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research, if a hotel increases its review score on Travelocity by 1 point on a 5-point scale, it can raise its price by 11.2% without affecting demand (Anderson, 2012).

Understanding Customer Needs

As we have discussed, service plays an important role in shaping customer impressions, where the ultimate goal of a tourism or hospitality business is to exceed expectations. Every customer has different wants and needs, but virtually all customers expect the following basic needs to be taken care of:

To fully satisfy customers, businesses must deliver in all four areas. If they meet the basic needs listed above, they’ll create a passive customer — one who is satisfied, but not likely to write a review or mention a business to others.

A woman makes a disgusted face and points to a messy wreath.
Figure 8.13 This unhappy customer is likely to broadcast news of her bad experience across multiple platforms.

On the other hand, failure to deliver on the promise can result in a disappointed customer undoing all the efforts of the marketing plan. For this reason, the entire process must be well coordinated and well executed.

Bringing it All Together

The Role of Destination BC

Destination BC is responsible for executing key components of the provincial government’s tourism strategy (British Columbia Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation, 2011). As we learned in the last chapter, this provincial destination marketing organization has been mandated to fulfill several key marketing and leadership responsibilities critical to the long-term sustainable growth of the provincial tourism industry. This includes marketing British Columbia domestically, nationally, and internationally as a tourist destination (Destination BC, n.d.). Its first three-year corporate and marketing strategy was released in November 2014 articulating its new vision, mission, and goals.

Take a Closer Look: Online Reputation Management

This guide from Destination BC’s Tourism Business Essentials series helps businesses understand how to manage their online reputation and includes tips for responding to reviews and other best practice. To get a copy of the guide, visit the Online Reputation Management Guide [PDF]:

Market Segmentation

Tourism marketers, including the team at Destination BC, choose target markets for their efforts through market segmentation techniques, where potential visitors are separated by:

The Canadian Tourism Commission’s award-winning Explorer Quotient program provides tourism marketers with detailed psychographic and travel motivations information (Canadian Tourism Commission, 2008; 2012). It allows destinations and experiences to market themselves to target audiences based on psychographic profiles (their psychological tendencies) rather than geographic segments.

Take a Closer Look: EQ (Explorer Quotient)

Destination Canada’s EQ tool allows businesses to segment their customers in a new and innovative way. EQ offers a range of online resources from an EQ Quiz (so you can identify what type of traveller you are) to business toolkits and more. Explore this new tourism marketing tool by visiting the Explorer Quotient tool:

BC’s Tourism and Hospitality Key Markets

BC’s key target tourism markets can be broken down into three main categories: nearby markets, top priority markets, and emerging markets (BC Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation, 2011).

Nearby markets are BC, Alberta, and Washington State, which are characterized by high volume and strong repeat visitation. Marketing activities to these areas are led by the regions, communities, and/or sectors such as ski. Top priority markets of Ontario, California, Germany, Japan, United Kingdom, South Korea, Australia are characterized by high revenue and high spending per visitor. Marketing efforts here are led by Destination BC. Emerging markets, which include China, India, and Mexico, are monitored and explored by Destination BC.

Performance Measurement and Evaluation

In order to measure its success in the realm of destination marketing, Destination BC has introduced a tool called the net promoter score (NPS), a metric designed to monitor customer engagement. The NPS indicates the likelihood of travellers recommending a destination to friends, family, or colleagues. NPS is based on responses to the question, How likely are you to recommend [British Columbia] as a travel destination to a friend, family member, or colleague? Responses are scored from 0 = “not at all likely” to 10 = “extremely likely.” Respondents are divided into three categories:

NPS is calculated by subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters: NPS = % of detractors — % of supporters. The intention to recommend a travel destination, reported by the NPS, is a proxy measure of overall satisfaction with the travel experience. Satisfaction with the travel experience and the intention to recommend greatly increase the likelihood of a return visit to British Columbia. And word-of-mouth advocacy, either face-to-face or through social media, is critical for attracting first-time visitors to British Columbia.

Destination BC uses NPS as a performance measurement tool (among others) to help determine the overall effectiveness of online and integrated marketing communications strategies (Destination BC, 2013). Furthermore, Destination BC has developed the Remarkable Experiences program to “enable tourism operators to become experts in areas such as service design and digital marketing” (Destination BC, 2014).

Spotlight On: Aboriginal Travel Services

Aboriginal Travel Services (ATS) is BC’s first Aboriginal-owned travel agency, focusing on business and leisure needs of companies, First Nations bands, and individual tourists. Located on Coast Salish territories in downtown Vancouver, ATS reinvests profits into Aboriginal communities by way of youth scholarships in tourism and hospitality. The agency was developed as a social enterprise, with the dual purpose of selling travel services that provide cultural and economic opportunities to the communities it serves and committing to investing in the Aboriginal communities and tourism initiatives (Aboriginal Travel Services, 2015). For more information, visit the Aboriginal Travel Services website:

Effective planning, research, customer understanding, integrated marketing communications, and using online customer service strategies to support effective marketing are fundamental requirements for successful services marketing. However, it is critical that marketers understand the key trends and issues that will help to identify tomorrow’s marketing strategies (Government of Canada, 2013).

Trends and Issues

The twitter logo carved out in the sand.
Figure 8.14 Social media trends are just one of the influences that marketers need to monitor.

Tourism marketers in BC need to monitor trends in the following areas that may impact the success of their marketing efforts:

Remaining abreast of information in these areas is critical to the success of any services marketing plan, which should be continually monitored and adapted as the landscape changes.


Effective services marketing in the tourism and hospitality sector requires marketers to gain a solid understanding of the differences between the marketing of goods and services. Successful organizations use market research to learn the preferences and behaviours of key customer segments. Through a strategic planning process, organizations and destinations develop a marketing orientation designed to identify customer needs and trigger their wants, while striving to meet organizational objectives. Activities are designed to support integrated marketing communications across multiple platforms with reciprocal communications — that is, not just broadcasting information, but having conversations with customers. Savvy marketers will leverage these conversations to keep up with evolving customer interests while seeking an understanding of emerging trends in order to anticipate needs and wants. Engaged marketers also know that social media and integrated marketing communications must be complemented with remarkable customer service, which ultimately supports successful marketing strategy.

Chapter 9 will delve further into the components of delivering exceptional customer service as a key component of industry success.

Key Terms

  • 8 Ps of services marketing: refers to product, place, promotion, pricing, people, programming, partnership, and physical evidence
  • Advertorial: print content (sometimes now appearing online) that is a combination of an editorial feature and paid advertising
  • Customer needs: gaps between what customers have and what they would like to have
  • Customer wants: needs of which customers are aware
  • E-commerce: electronic commerce; performing business transactions online while collecting rich data about consumers
  • Emerging markets: markets for BC that are monitored and explored by Destination BC — China, India, and Mexico
  • Heterogeneous: variable, a generic difference shared by all services
  • Intangible: untouchable, a characteristic shared by all services
  • Integrated marketing communications (IMC): planning and coordinating all the promotional mix elements and internet marketing so they are as consistent and as mutually supportive as possible
  • Interactive media: online and mobile platforms
  • Interpersonal factors: the influence of cultures, social classes, family, and opinion leaders on consumers
  • Marketing: a continuous, sequential process through which management plans, researches, implements, controls, and evaluates activities designed to satisfy the customers’ needs and wants, and its own organization’s objectives
  • Marketing orientation: the understanding that a company needs to engage with its markets in order to refine its products and services, and promotional efforts
  • Market segmentation: specific groups of people with a similar profile, allowing marketers to target their messaging
  • Mass media: the use of channels that reach very large markets
  • Nearby markets: markets for BC, identified by Destination BC as BC, Alberta, and Washington State, characterized by high volume and strong repeat visitation
  • Net promoter score (NPS): a metric designed to monitor customer engagement, reflecting the likelihood that travellers will recommend a destination to friends, family, or colleagues
  • Out-of-home (OOH): channels in four major categories: billboards, transit, alternative outdoor, and street furniture
  • Passive customer: a guest who is satisfied (won’t complain, but won’t celebrate the business either)
  • Perishable: something that is only good for a short period of time, a characteristic shared by all services
  • Personal factors: the needs, wants, motivations, previous experiences, and objectives of consumers that they bring into the decision-making process
  • PRICE concept: an acronym that helps marketers remember the need to plan, research, implement, control, and evaluate the components of their marketing plan
  • Print media: newspapers, magazines, journals, and directories
  • Services marketing: marketing that specifically applies to services such as those provided by the tourism and hospitality industries; differs from the marketing of goods
  • Services marketing triangle: a model for understanding the relationship between the company, its employees, and the customer; differs from traditional marketing where the business speaks directly to the consumer
  • Social media: refers to web-based and mobile applications used for social interaction and the exchange of content
  • Societal marketing: marketing that recognizes a company’s place in society and its responsibility to citizens (or at least the appearance thereof)
  • Tangible: goods the customer can see, feel, and/or taste ahead of payment
  • Top priority markets: markets for BC identified as a top priority for Destination BC — Ontario, California, Germany, Japan, United Kingdom, South Korea, Australia — which are characterized by high revenue and high spend per visitor
  • Tourism marketing system: an approach that guides the planning, execution, and evaluation of tourism marketing efforts (PRICE concept is an approach to this)
  • Word of mouth: information about a service experience passed along orally or through other social information sources from past customers to potential customers


  1. Fill in the blanks. During a successful marketing planning process, management will:
    P: __________________________________
    R: __________________________________
    I: __________________________________
    C: __________________________________
    E: __________________________________
  2. Should services be marketed exactly the same as manufactured products and packaged goods? Why or why not?
  3. Name at least three reasons for tourism marketers to do marketing research.
  4. Why is segmentation so important to effective marketing?
  5. What does integrated marketing communications achieve?
  6. What stages do customers usually go through when they make decisions about buying travel services?
  7. Name the three types of market priorities for British Columbia’s tourism experiences (according to Destination BC). What geographic segments are found in each?
  8. What is the net promoter score (NPS) for a destination with 20% detractors and 80% supporters?
  9. Why is delivering great experiences an important part of services marketing? Give five reasons.
  10. Take the Explorer Quotient (EQ) test at Review the EQ profile document to learn more about your traveller type.
    1. What characteristics do you agree with, which ones do you not? Why?
    2. Select one of the experiences (preferably in BC) matched to your profile and determine how it fits your type.
    3. How does the website of that company market to your traveller type? What visuals or key words do they use to get your attention?

Case Study: The Wickaninnish Inn

Located in Tofino, the Wickaninnish Inn (or “the Wick,” as it’s affectionately known) is a world-recognized high-end property famous for offering four seasons of luxury experiences on BC’s “wild coast.” But how does the Wick stay top-of-mind with tourism consumers? A quick look at their marketing mix offers some answers:

  • Product: The inn has long been a leader in offering experiences that go above and beyond a room in a luxury hotel, starting with their storm-watching packages in the late fall, a time that was once their off-season.
  • Place: Reservations can be made online on the inn’s website, via a toll-free number, through OTA sites including TripAdvisor (where reviews are constantly monitored in order to engage with customers), and other reservation services including the HelloBC program. The staff constantly engages with, and monitors their customers, tracking trends in traveller purchasing behaviour to ensure it is front and centre with the inn’s target markets.
  • Promotion: The inn has a well-maintained, visually rich website and social media presence on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Google+, and Flickr (a presence that shifts constantly depending on where consumers can be found online). Its site features a media page with blogs, press releases, and high-resolution photos and videos to ensure journalists can easily post a story at any time.
  • Pricing: The inn has a comprehensive revenue management and pricing plan that includes packaging and promotions for all seasons. The pricing reflects offering value to guests, while confidently staying at the higher end of the scale.
  • People: Not only does the inn attract and train staff who deliver on its promise of exceptional experiences, the Wick also has a multi-person team responsible for sales, marketing, and media (blogging, press releases, photography, hosting familiarization tours).
  • Programming: Programs include packaging under themes such as elopement, natural, seasonal, romantic, spa, and culinary. Many packages include the involvement of hotel personnel such as an elopement coordinator or concierge to help guests plan specific value-added and memorable components of their experience, such as a last-minute wedding (Wickaninnish Inn, 2015).
  • Partnership: The Wick partners with other experience providers and events such as the Tofino Saltwater Classic — a fishing tournament hosted by Brendan Morrison of the Vancouver Canucks. By supporting the event as a platinum sponsor (Tofino Saltwater Classic, 2014), the representatives from the inn meet new potential guests and solidifies its place in the community.
  • Physical evidence: In addition to familiarization tours (see Chapter 7 for definition), the media team ensures the inn is considered for a number of high-profile awards, and celebrates wins by broadcasting these as they occur (e.g., Travel and Leisure Awards World’s Best Winner 2014). Prize logos are placed on the inn’s home page online, in print ads, and in physical locations on the property. The inn also has a regular consumer newsletter that celebrates achievements and shares promotions with past and future guests.

Thinking about this example, answer the following questions:

  1. Imagine the inn received a review on TripAdvisor that showed a customer was not satisfied. How might it deal with this?
  2. Visit the company’s website at Who are the target customers? How is this conveyed on the site?
  3. What are the prices for packages and accommodations? What does the price signal to you about the experience you might have at this hotel?
  4. Do an online search for “Wick Inn” using your favourite search engine. What are the first five links that come up? How do these present the property? What hand does the inn’s staff have in these results?
  5. Look at the community of Tofino as it is presented online and name five potential partners for the Wick.


Aboriginal Travel Services. (2015). Aboriginal Travel Services. Retrieved from

Anderson, C. (2012). The impact of social media on lodging performance. Retrieved from

BC Ferries Services. (2015). BC Ferries vacations. Retrieved from:

British Columbia Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation. (2011). Gaining the edge: A five year strategy for tourism in British Columbia. [PDF] Retrieved from:

Canadian Tourism Commission. (2008). The explorer quotient: A deeper understanding of the modern traveller. [PDF] Retrieved from:

Canadian Tourism Commission. (2012). EQ profiles. [PDF] Retrieved from:

Davis, K. (2013, July 17). A (kind of) brief history of marketing (infographic). Entrepreneur. Retrieved from

Deloitte. (2015). Hospitality 2015 game changers or spectators? Retrieved from

Destination BC. (n.d.). About us. Retrieved from:

Destination BC. (2013). Net promoter score. Retrieved from:

Destination BC. (2014). Remarkable experiences program. Retrieved from:

Eliason, K. (2014, December 23). The importance of integrated marketing communications. Retrieved from

Government of Canada. (2013). FedNor: A guide to using market research and marketing measurement for successful tourism destination marketing. Retrieved from:

Kollat, D., Blackwell, R., & Engel, J. (1972). The current status of consumer behavior research: Developments during the 1968-1972 period. Proceedings of the Third Annual Conference of the Association for Consumer Research. Chicago, IL : Association for Consumer Research, pp. 576-585.

Luca, M. (2011, September 16). Reviews, reputation, and revenue: The case of [PDF] Retrieved from

Morrison, A. M. (2010). Hospitality & travel marketing (4th ed., international ed.). Clifton Park, NY: Delmar Cengage Learning.

Nielsen. (2012, April 10). Global consumers’ trust in ‘earned’ advertising grows in importance. Retrieved from

PR Newswire. (2011, January 11). Smart phones, social media and local search create marketing mojo in the travel industry, new report says. Retrieved from

Tofino Saltwater Classic. (2014). Tofino saltwater classic. Retrieved from

Tourism Victoria. (2015). Visitors centre. Retrieved from:

Wickaninnish Inn. (2015). Elopement wedding packages. Retrieved from

Wolak, R., Kalafatis, S., & Harris, P. (1998). An investigation into four characteristics of services. [PDF] Journal of Empirical Generalisations in Marketing Science, 3, 22-43. Retrieved from

WorldHost Training Services. (2013). Remarkable service in the age of social media. 
Retrieved from:


Figure 8.1  Vintage Ad #1,203: This Cheap Hotel Does Not Compute by Jamie is used under a CC BY 2.0 license.

Figure 8.2  1970s Advertising – Poster – Peter Max Don’t Smoke Cigarettes (USA) by Daniel Anyes Arroyo is used under a CC BY-NC 2.0 license.

Figure 8.3  British Columbia Parliament Christmas Lights by James Wheeler is used under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.

Figure 8.4  Empty Flight by Rex Roof is used under a CC BY 2.0 license.

Figure 8.5  Services Marketing Triangle by LinkBC is used under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.

Figure 8.6  Pacific Centre igloo by Janis Behan is used under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.

Figure 8.7  Army Photography Contest – 2007 – FMWRC – Arts and Crafts – Eye of the Holder by US Army is used under a CC BY 2.0 license.

Figure 8.8  BC Tourism Vending Machine by davitydave is used under a CC BY 2.0 license.

Figure 8.9  Precious Treasure by Dave Sutherland is used under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.

Figure 8.10  Victoria’s Inner Harbour at Night 2012 by Gord McKenna is used under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

Figure 8.11  Out of Home Advertising for Grouse Mountain by LinkBC is used under a CC BY 2.0 license.

Figure 8.12  Fairmont Empress and Helijet Partnership by LinkBC is used under a CC BY 2.0 license.

Figure 8.13  Wreath makin’ – an unhappy customer (pas moi) by Katy is used under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

Figure 8.14  Twitter escultura de arena by Rosaura Ochoa is used under a CC BY 2.0 license.

Long Descriptions

Figure 8.1 long description: A man holds up a calculator looking confused. He says, “Are you kidding me? A big double bed, television, air conditioning, and only $12.95 a night? It doesn’t compute.” [Return to Figure 8.1]

Figure 8.5 long description: Internal marketing is used between the company and its employees. External marketing is used between the company and its customers. Interactive marketing is used between the employees and the customers. [Return to Figure 8.5]


Chapter 9. Customer Service

Ray Freeman and Kelley Glazer

Learning Objectives

  • Explain the importance of customer service
  • Describe the characteristics of exceptional customer service and its benefits
  • Explain how the quality of customer service differentiates a destination
  • Describe how to recover from service failure
  • Explain how social media impacts customer service delivery


In the tourism and hospitality industry, the success or failure of our businesses and destinations depends on service. Some, however, deliver consistently higher levels of customer service. Why and how are they able to do this? This chapter will try to answer these questions as we explore the fundamentals of customer service in the context of a competitive global tourism environment.

Figure 9.1 A family checks in at a hotel where they’re provided with an engaging customer service experience

Customer Service as Part of BC’s Tourism Marketing Plan

Many credit Expo 86, and the training that began the previous year under the SuperHost banner, with bringing this important topic to the forefront of BC’s tourism industry.

Take a Closer Look: The SuperNews

Back in the days of Expo 86, it seemed everyone in the industry had a vested interest in improving their customer service skills. Take a look at the first edition of the SuperNews, a newsletter for industry professionals that shared the highlights of training received by taxi drivers and at local colleges, and offered name tags for people to encourage customers to “Expect the Most: SuperHost.” Read a copy of the SuperNews [PDF]:

Customer service remains an integral part of delivering on BC’s tourism marketing promises to our guests. Destination BC recently launched its Remarkable Experiences program, intended to differentiate the province as a destination in a global market filled with competitors. Successful execution of this strategy will depend on how well employers and their staff provide quality customer service, focusing on the importance of the “human element” in the visitor experience (Destination BC, 2014). And across the country, the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) is encouraging the development of Canadian Signature Experiences, made all the more memorable because of the high-quality guest interactions they emphasize (Canadian Tourism Commission, n.d.).

A Key Issue for Employers

A woman wearing a phone headset.
Figure 9.2 Great customer service takes place across many platforms and is critical for tourism and hospitality employers.

In a 2010 Tourism Vancouver Island training and education needs assessment survey, employers and managers indicated that customer service skills were one of the most significant issues (Tourism Vancouver Island, 2010). Employers and human resources managers were most concerned with employee skills and training related to personal development, tourism/hospitality knowledge, computer and communication skills, leadership/management skills, and customer service skills and attitudes.

A similar finding emerged from a 2014 LinkBC roundtable discussion held between tourism and hospitality educators and industry professionals. One of the main topics raised by employers was the need for new tourism professionals to learn customer service skills and to continue to hone these over time. In all groups, across all sectors, many students and graduates were found lacking in these skills (LinkBC, 2014).

For this reason, an entire chapter has been dedicated to exploring customer service issues, including quality of customer service, key challenges and benefits to employers and employees, the concept of customer orientation, and ways to recover when service interactions go wrong.

Quality of Customer Service

Tim Horton's parking sign. Long description available.
Figure 9.3 Service encounters can start before a guest enters a business. Does this sign send the right message? [Long Description]

Quality customer service is an experience of feeling valued or heard. Sometimes it’s an intangible component of why a guest may prefer one tourism or hospitality provider over another. There is something about quality customer service that you often can’t put your finger on — but you know it’s there. And it’s a critical factor for tourism success, both as a means of satisfying ever-increasing customer expectations, and as a way to achieve business profitability (Erdly & Kesterson-Townes, 2002).

In 2012, Cornell Hospitality presented a report from PKF Hospitality Research that showed guest satisfaction is heavily influenced by service factors such as employee attitude and the pacing and order of services provided. It found that the greater the client satisfaction, the higher the revenues for a given hospitality business, and that service plays a far greater role than price and location in the guest-purchase decision (Cornell Hospitality Research, 2012).

Training is critical to ensuring quality service and meeting these objectives (Brown et al., 2009). On a global scale, Canada ranks high in human resources capabilities. Unfortunately, due to the seasonal nature of many tourism and hospitality positions, and limited access to affordable and accessible training, the industry isn’t always able to take advantage of this position (Blanke & Chiesa, 2009), as it can be difficult to attract, train, and retain reliable and qualified staff year-round.

Spotlight On: The Canadian Tourism Human Resources Council 

In Canada, the Canadian Tourism Human Resources Commission (CTHRC) offers the national emerit training program. Certification from emerit recognizes an individual’s competence in his or her occupation as measured against the National Occupational Standards. Professional certification is available for dozens of frontline and supervisory occupations, providing a marketable credential for those just starting out in the tourism industry and for seasoned veterans. For  more information, visit the Canadian Tourism Human Resources Commission:

The concept of total quality (TQ) refers to an approach by businesses to integrate all employees, from management to front-level, in a process of continuous learning, with a goal of increasing customer satisfaction. It involves examining all encounters and points of interaction with guests to identify points of improvement. Total quality management (TQM) in tourism and hospitality is a process where service expectations are created by the entire team, with a collaborative approach between management and employees (Kapiki, 2012).

Key Challenges and Benefits to Employers

Many employers struggle to justify the time and expense associated with training, particularly in a seasonal workplace or environment with high staff turnover (Saunders, 2009). In fact, many of the benefits of training are intangible and therefore difficult to measure, although there is evidence that the return-on-investment of training is quite high. For example, employee competence and job satisfaction are not always easily assessed, but can improve productivity and organizational profitability.

Take a Closer Look: World Travel and Tourism Council Global Talent Trends and Issues Report

The World Travel and Tourism Council’s report on trends in tourism employment speaks to the importance of hiring and training service tourism and travel staff who can deliver quality experiences as part of the tourism supply chain. It lists a strong customer service base as the top requirement for staff in tourism and hospitality businesses. To read the report, visit Global Talent Trends and Issues for the Travel and Tourism Sector [PDF]:

Employers do need to understand the positive impacts of training on their bottom line. Key benefits may include improved employee attraction/recruitment, retention, engagement, and innovation. Saunders (2009) suggests that to be most effective, training should be oriented to develop employee potential versus addressing deficiencies.

Benefits to Employees

A woman in an apron sings and claps, a man behind her smiles with straws sticking out of his ears.
Figure 9.4 A waitress sings and staff entertain to celebrate a customer birthday at a café. The guests were so thrilled they shared the photo online.

Customer service training provides employees with a foundation for effective service delivery. Potential benefits of this training may include improved skills and attitudes; better communication skills; better understanding of workplace practices; increased morale, confidence, self-satisfaction, and work satisfaction; increased participation; greater job/career advancement potential; greater interest in and willingness to participate in further training; and more independence (Grey, 2006).

As employees acquire certifications and credentials, and these are recognized by employers, both groups benefit. Employees have a tangible way of demonstrating mastery of service knowledge and skills, and employers have tools to assist with the recruitment and screening of potential staff.

Spotlight On: WorldHost Training Services

WorldHost Training Services, a division of Destination BC, offers internationally recognized training solutions to meet the needs of the tourism industry. A variety of customer training products are available, from self-directed online courses to customized training programs. Recently, WorldHost Training Services introduced a series of online courses entitled Remarkable Service in the Age of Social Media. For more information, visit World Host Training:

According to Kim (2008), customer-oriented interactions between consumers and tourism employees influence the quality of the tourism experience. Let’s take a closer look at the concept of customer orientation and what this means in today’s tourism businesses.

Customer Orientation

A drawing of a smiling flight attendent that says, "Service that makes the flagships famous."
Figure 9.5 An American Airlines ad from 1954 shows that, in tourism and hospitality, service has always been paramount.

Kim defines customer orientation “as the set of activities, behaviours, and beliefs that place high priority on customers’ interests and continuously create superior customer value” (2008, p. 195). Even when employees have positive attributes, it may not be enough to ensure positive customer engagements unless they are specifically trained toward customer orientation (Kim, 2008).

Spotlight On: WorldHost Hall of Fame 

The WorldHost Customer Service Award is presented at the annual British Columbia Tourism Industry Conference to an individual who exemplifies going the “extra mile.” Read the inspiring stories of those who have demonstrated leadership, professionalism, and a service approach that has made them recipients of this prestigious distinction: WorldHost Hall of Fame:

Customer Service and Competition: The Customer-Oriented Organization

According to Masberg and colleagues, “to the customer, only service may distinguish a business from its competition” (Masberg, Chase, & Madlem, 2003, p. 19). While specific customer service jobs require different skills, building an overall customer-oriented organization may better meet customer expectations. One way to ensure quality service may be to encourage tourism and hospitality professionals to acquire industry certifications. Businesses can also choose to implement tools to determine customer satisfactions levels, such as the SERVQUAL technique that compares customer perceptions of quality against customer expectations (Morrison, 2010). Under the SERVQUAL model, the five dimensions of service are:

  1. Reliability: where the quality and level of service is consistent
  2. Assurance: knowledge and courtesy of staff and their ability to convey trust and confidence
  3. Tangibles: the organization’s physical facilities, equipment, and appearance of staff
  4. Empathy: the degree of caring, individualized attention that the organization’s staff provide to its customers
  5. Responsiveness: the willingness of staff to help customers and provide prompt service

You can remember these five dimensions by using the acronym RATER. When these dimensions are consistently met, a company is well on its way to becoming customer oriented.

Spotlight On: Service Skills Australia

Service Skills Australia (SSA) supports skills and workforce development in the service industries. These include retail and wholesale, sport, fitness, community recreation, outdoor recreation, travel, tourism, meetings and events, accommodation, restaurants and catering, holiday parks and resorts, hairdressing, beauty, floristry, community pharmacy, and funeral services. SSA is a not-for-profit, independent organization and one of 11 Industry Skills Councils funded by the Department of Industry to support skills development for Australian industries (Service Skills Australia, 2015). For more information, visit Service Skills Australia:

So far we’ve explored the reasons good customer service is critical to our industry. And with the acronym RATER, we now understand the basics of what a customer might expect from an organization. Together, these concepts can form part of a customer relationship management (CRM) strategy for tourism and hospitality businesses. CRMs are tools used by businesses to select customers and maintain relationships with them to increase their lifetime value to the business.

There are a number of points in time where this relationship is maintained. For example:

All of these touch points are opportunities to maintain strong relationships with customers and to increase the likelihood of positive word of mouth sharing.

Let’s take a closer look at one tool that tourism and hospitality businesses are increasingly using as part of their CRM strategies: rewarding customer loyalty.

Loyalty and Customer Relationships

Various loyalty cards for different food and beverage businesses.
Figure 9.6 Customer loyalty cards are very common in the food and beverage sector.

With competition between tourism destinations and businesses continuing to grow, organizations are increasingly focusing on retaining existing customers, which is often less expensive than attracting new ones. This focus forces tourism businesses to look at the customer relationship over the long term, or the customer lifetime value (CLV) cycle, rather than at single transactions only.

It has been proven that it is much less expensive for a company to retain an existing customer than acquire a new one (Beaujean, Davidson & Madge, 2006). Ultimately, successful organizations will strive to build a base of loyal customers who will provide repeat business and may influence other potential customers. Building positive relationships with loyal customers requires planning and diligence for all customer touch points. This may include (Lovelock & Wirtz, 2007):

  1. Managing service encounters: training staff to provide personal service to customers
  2. Providing customer incentives: inducing customers to frequent the business
  3. Providing special service options: offering enhanced services or extra offerings to loyal customers
  4. Developing pricing strategies to encourage long-term use: offering repeat customers special prices or rates
  5. Maintaining a customer database: keeping an up-to-date set of records on customer purchase history, preferences, demographics, and so on.
  6. Communicating with customers: reaching individual customers through direct or specialized media, using non-mass media approaches

Loyalty programs pull together several of these elements to help a business identify, maintain contact with, and reward frequent customers.

Examples of Outstanding Service

If one uses the definition of quality in service as “meeting or exceeding customer expectations” (Kapiki, 2012), then the following examples certainly fit the description. These embody a concept known as a moment of truth (Beaujean, Davidson & Madge, 2006) when a customer’s interaction with a front-line employee makes a critical difference in his or her perception of that company or destination. The characteristics of employees that are best able to create these moments include self-empowerment and self-regulation, a positive outlook, awareness of their feelings and the feelings of others, and the ability to curb fear and anxiety while being able to access a desire to help others. These past winners of the WorldHost customer service award demonstrate this concept in action (WorldHost, n.d.):

Tamara Turcotte of the Sidney Airport Travelodge was nominated after she came into work on her day off after hearing that hundreds of travellers had been stranded after a bomb threat led to the cancellation of ferry trips from nearby Swartz Bay. Reporting for duty, she helped coordinate accommodations for these travellers, looking beyond the hotel (which was full) to the homes of coworkers and friends. Her compassion and swift actions helped turn a negative experience for these guests into a moment of truth about visiting British Columbia.

Agazzi Abbay received word that JetsGo, a small airline and his employer, had suddenly gone out of business, and he was out of a job. Concerned for the passengers that would be stranded by this abrupt end for the airline, he went to the airport to give them the opportunity to share their frustration. Even though he was unable to help their situation, he was able to demonstrate empathy and provide a listening ear as the only former JetsGo employee available across Canada.

Andrea Chan, a guest services supervisor at the Holiday Inn and Suites in Vancouver, received a call from a hotel guest who said she was ill. Concerned because the caller sounded disoriented, Andrea recommended a visit to the hospital. To be sure her guest was safe, Andrea accompanied her to the emergency room and stayed with her until her health and safety were assured — working well beyond the hours of her shift, and returning home the next morning. By treating every guest like family, Andrea created a lasting impression about Holiday Inn and its customer service values.

Of course, it’s not possible for every customer encounter to be positive. Let’s look at what happens when a customer encounter does not go well, and what can be done about it.

Recovery from Service Failures

Figure 9.7 Handle customer complaints before guests take them online.

If a business fails to meet customer expectations, there’s a risk the customer will tell others about it, often through social media networks. An on-location problem that turns into an online complaint, going from private to public, can become far more damaging to business than the original issue. To avoid any problem from escalating, organizations and staff must work hard to resolve issues before the customer walks out the door — or pulls out a smartphone to make an online posting.

Of course, it’s not always possible to resolve issues on the spot. A customer’s expectations may go beyond the service the business is able to provide, or staff might not be authorized by management to provide the means necessary to resolve the complaint. In these cases, staff must still step up as service professionals, realizing that the actions they take when faced with a complaint can have a significant impact.

Online complaints highlight this point; reviewers are often more upset about how a problem was handled than about the problem itself. As well, potential guests who read online complaints are looking for reassurance that the same thing won’t happen to them. If they don’t find it, they may dismiss the business as an option and move on. How a business handles complaints, face-to-face and online, is critical to ensuring successful recovery from service failures.

Service recovery occurs when a customer service professional takes action that results in the customer being satisfied after a service failure has occurred. Often service failures are not the fault of front-line staff, and at times, may not even be the fault of the business. Failure may be the result of an error made by another employee, by the guest him- or herself, or by a technical error. Regardless of where the problem originated, when customers bring it to the attention of the staff, they have certain expectations for resolution.

Figure 9.8 Listen, understand, act: the building blocks for resolving disputes

Disappointed customers often want:

Skilled service recovery is especially important in the age of social media. Customers who are active on social networks are likely to be equally vocal about their satisfaction with service recovery when a problem is expertly handled as they are with their displeasure when they are disappointed with service (WorldHost Training Services, 2013).

While service recovery is a critical skill, all tourism and hospitality professionals should approach each encounter with the goal of providing remarkable service. The next section explores how this is accomplished.

Exceeding Expectations with Remarkable Service

A large sign outside of science world with "welcome!" in many different languages.
Figure 9.9 British Columbia set the bar high when it welcomed the world to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

We’ve discussed the basic ingredients of meeting customer expectations. However, for a business to be successful, it’s important to not only meet, but exceed, expectations. Remarkable service doesn’t necessarily require a great deal of cost, time, or resources. Often it’s the little details, the special attention from employees and the personalized touches that people remember most. There is no formula for remarkable service. It will depend on the type of customers, the nature of their visit, and the things they value. Finding ways to provide remarkable service requires support from management, keen observation skills, and a willingness to “go the extra mile” (Destination BC, 2013).

Providing good service is about understanding, recognizing, and anticipating the needs of customers and working hard to meet or exceed them. The core service essentials are also simple: make eye contact, smile, greet warmly, and use the customer’s name. These simple actions tell customers that your organization values them and is eager to help. In order to exceed expectations, your organization must be on the alert for opportunities to provide remarkable service (WorldHost Training Services, 2013).

The Role of Service and Social Media in Customer Satisfaction

Customer hotel review. Long description available.
Figure 9.10 A customer reviews a hotel, and the general manager responds to address his concerns. [Long Description]

While the basics of great service haven’t changed, social media and networking have raised the stakes in the service industry. The cost of a negative experience is higher — but so is the value of a positive experience. In fact, the opportunities of social media reviews and ratings far outweigh the risks.

Businesses that take time to “listen” to social media are going to be more successful at leveraging the power of online interactions. These companies effectively read review sites such as TripAdvisor, Yelp, and others and respond to guest comments both good and bad.

Many factors contribute to how people rate businesses, including value, quality, and convenience. More than anything, however, service influences customer impressions. Whereas a lapse in quality or convenience can be overcome with excellent service, it is especially challenging to overcome the effects of bad service.

Take a Closer Look: Remarkable Service in the Age of Social Media

This WorldHost Training Services video introduces the concept of remarkable service and what it means for the industry today: Remarkable Service – Social Media Administrators:

Now that we have a deeper understanding of the fundamentals of customer service, maintaining positive relationships with our guests and aiming to exceed their expectations, let’s look at some organizations that support the training and development of the industry.

Tourism and Hospitality Human Resource Support

A number of organizations support the training, development, and credentialling of tourism and hospitality professionals at both the national and provincial level.

A magazine on Expo 86.
Figure 9.11 British Columbia’s tourism industry has come a long way since Expo 86, delivering great service to visitors from near and far.

Human Resource Councils

At the national level, the Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council (CTHRC), a national sector council, is responsible for best practice research, training, and other professional development support on behalf of the 174,000 tourism businesses and the 1.75 million people employed in tourism-related occupations across the country. Provincially, the organization go2HR serves to educate employers on attracting, training, and retaining employees, as well as hosts a tourism job board to match prospective employees with job options in tourism around the province.

Training Providers

Throughout this textbook, you’ll see examples of not-for-profit industry associations providing training and certification for industry professionals. For example, the former Canadian Institute of Travel Counsellors (CITC) is now hosted by the Association of Canadian Travel Agents and continues to offer a full-time and distance program to train for the occupation of Certified Travel Counsellor. Closer to home, WorldHost Training Services, a division of Destination BC, offers world-class customer service training.

Educational Institutions

British Columbia is home to a number of high-quality public and private colleges and universities that offer tourism-related educational options. Training options include certificates, diplomas, and degrees in adventure tourism, outdoor recreation, hospitality management, and tourism management. Whether students are learning how to manage a restaurant, gaining mountain adventure skills, or exploring the world of outdoor recreation and tourism management, tomorrow’s workforce is being prepared by skilled instructors with solid industry experience.

Through these educational opportunities, tourism professionals can earn a range of credentials and certifications that not only boost their confidence, but have proven benefits to employers seeking fresh ideas and potential leaders for their organizations.


Figure 9.12 A satisfied customer shares the news on his mobile device

BC tourism and hospitality employers named customer service as the most beneficial training topic in a number of surveys. These skills are integral to customer satisfaction, employee engagement, organizational performance, and a destination’s competitive position (Freeman, 2011; Tourism Vancouver Island, 2010).

Employers can either commit to creating a learning organization or undermine their business depending on their investment (or lack thereof) in training. Essentially, employers get out of training what they put into it, often by attracting and retaining better, more motivated employees. Ultimately, this investment results in a better customer experience with improved levels of customer loyalty and organizational profitability. Prudent employees seek employers who value investment in training.

We know there are a variety of ways to ensure quality of service and recover when things go wrong. A key factor of success is understanding that customers want to be listened to — they would like an apology, a solution, at times compensation, and often follow-up and reassurance. And when a complaint is expertly handled, the customer can be converted from a potential social media detractor to a loyal advocate for the business.

From the first wave of training that prepared BC to host Expo 86, to communities and businesses participating in WorldHost workshops today, tourism in our province is only as strong as the front-line employees that deliver experiences to guests.

Another key component in BC’s ability to compete as a tourism destination is its reputation for healthy wildlife, wild viewscapes, and pristine resources. Chapter 10 highlights the important role the tourism industry can play in either preserving, or damaging, our natural assets.

Key Terms

  • Customer lifetime value (CLV): a view of customer relationships that looks at the long-term cycle of customer interactions, rather than at single transactions
  • Customer orientation: positioning a business or organization so that customer interests and value are the highest priority
  • Customer relationship management (CRM): a strategy used by businesses to select customers and to maintain relationships with them to increase their lifetime value to the business
  • Loyalty programs: programs that identify and build databases of frequent customers to promote directly to them, and to reward and provide special services for those frequent customers
  • Moment of truth: when a customer’s interaction with a front-line employee makes a critical difference in his or her perception of that company or destination
  • Service recovery: what happens when a customer service professional takes actions that result in the customer being satisfied after a service failure has occurred
  • SERVQUAL: a technique developed to measure service quality
  • Total quality (TQ): integrating all employees, from management to front-level, in a process of continuous learning, which leads toward increasing customer satisfaction
  • Total quality management (TQM): a process of setting service goals as a team


  1. Complete the Remarkable – YOU! Checklist for Service Professionals (WorldHost Training Services, 2013). On a scale of 1–5 (with 5 being highest) rate yourself on the following customer service skills. You can use a recent customer interaction or one from a previous service role. Add any other criteria that relate specifically to your position.
Qualities of a Remarkable Service Professional Score
Treat all colleagues with courtesy and respect.
Treat all customers with courtesy and respect.
Create a positive first impression for all customers.
Communicate clearly when sharing directions or information.
Be aware of the impact of voice and body language during communications.
Use open-ended questions to clarify.
Listen in an active and engaged way.
Listen without judgment to gain understanding.
Demonstrate empathy to customers.
Take initiative to deal with challenging situations.
Solve problems effectively.
Speak highly of the organization’s products and services on a consistent basis.
Provide positive recognition to customers.
Provide constructive feedback using assertive language.
Look for ways to improve as a customer service professional on an ongoing basis.
Look for ways to provide remarkable, out-of-the-ordinary service on an ongoing basis.

2. What are three key benefits of customer service training for employers? What are three benefits to employees?

3. Identify and discuss three ways that tourism and hospitality businesses can maintain a long-term relationship with their guests.

4. What kinds of training and credentials are available to tourism and hospitality professionals? What are some of the benefits to both employees and employers of these credentials?

5. Take a moment to list all of the loyalty programs you belong to (using cards from your wallet or apps on your phone). Next to each, write the following: the reason you joined the program, the benefits you receive from it, and your estimate of the benefits the issuing company receives.

6. Name five instances in which a guest might interact with each of the following types of tourism and hospitality business:

a. A tour operator

b. A hotel

c. An airline

d. A ski resort

7. Choose a tourism business, hotel, or restaurant that has received excellent reviews, and determine which comments can be linked either directly or indirectly to the quality and level of employee training and customer service. Find at least one example of each of the dimensions of RATER.

Case Study: Accent Inn and WorldHost Training Service

Accent Inns is an award-winning, family-owned and operated company based in Victoria with hotels located in Victoria, Richmond, Burnaby, Kelowna, and Kamloops. All Accent Inns have developed a reputation for their quality, reasonable rates, and excellent service. Guest and staff satisfaction are key components of their service culture to treat every guest like family. The team at Accent Inns put great effort into making every customer interaction memorable.

In 2013, Accent Inns committed to incorporating customer service training at each property to be delivered by Accent Inns assistant general managers (AGMs). Core outcomes were to raise the level of service, empower front-line staff with the tools to exceed guest expectations, and strengthen the facilitation and coaching skills of the AGM team. Building on the business’s existing training culture and strong corporate values, WorldHost Training Services created a customized half-day program for the AGMs to use in their hotels.

To prepare, the AGMs completed an experiential 1.5-day train-the-trainer session. An emphasis on coaching support and a team facilitation approach led many to gain confidence in this new role. One trainer excelled and was selected as the full-time trainer for Accent Inns. Working with the human resources team from Accent Inns, WorldHost also completed a needs analysis at each property to ensure staff had input into future training. Training continues to be developed and delivered internally.

According to Kathy Gaudry, human resources manager for Accent Inns, “The WorldHost team was fantastic; they worked hard to ensure the training was completely relevant to our employees and our culture. The results were phenomenal — our junior leaders have acquired the skills they need to deliver training locally to their own teams — we couldn’t be happier.”

Visit the Accent Inns website ( and review the information to answer the following questions about their customer service culture:

  1. What kind of experience do you expect by reading the website’s information and looking at the pictures? What kind of service do you feel the inns provide?
  2. Visit TripAdvisor ( and look up any of the Accent Inn locations.
    1. Select a review for families. What does the reviewer say about the property? How does Accent Inns respond?
    2. Select a review for solo travellers. What does the reviewer say about the property? How does Accent Inns respond?
    3. Are there any negative reviews? If so, how does Accent Inns respond?
  3. Now that you’ve reviewed the case study, the website, and TripAdvisor for Accent Inns, use the RATER dimensions to provide examples of how Accent Inns is using the SERVQUAL model.


Beaujean, M., J. Davidson, & Madge, S. (2006). The ‘moment of truth’ in customer service. Retrieved from

Blanke, J. & Chiesa, T. (Eds.). (2009). The Travel and tourism competitiveness report: Managing in a time of turbulence. World Economic Forum, Davos, p. 525. Retrieved from:

Brown, J., Elliott, S., Christensen-Hughes, J., Lyons, S., Mann, S., & Zdaniuk, A. (2009).Using human resource management (HRM) practices to improve productivity in the Canadian tourism sector. Department of Business, University of Guelph, Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council. Retrieved from

Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC). (n.d). Canadian Signature Experiences. Retrieved from

Cornell Hospitality Research. (2012). Summit 2012: Building service excellence for customer satisfaction. Retrieved from

Destination BC. (2013) Remarkable service in the age of social media (video). WorldHost Training Services. Retrieved from

Destination BC. (2014) Remarkable experiences program. Retrieved from:

Erdly, M. & Kesterson-Townes, L. (2002). Experience rules, IBM Business Consulting Services’ vision for the hospitality and leisure industry. IBM Business Consulting Services.

Freeman, R. (2011). Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast tourism and hospitality sector customer service training and needs assessment report. Nanaimo, BC: Vancouver Island University.

Grey, A. (2006). Upskilling through foundation skills: A literature review. [PDF] Report prepared for the Department of Labour. New Zealand. Retrieved from

Kapiki, S. (2012) Quality management in tourism and hospitality: An exploratory study among tourism stakeholders. Retrieved from

Kim B. (2008). Mediated effects of customer orientation on customer relationship management performance. International Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Administration, 9(2), 192-218.

LinkBC. (2014). LinkBC roundtable 2014: Dialogue cafe. [PDF] Retrieved from

Lovelock, C. & Wirtz, J. (2007). Services marketing: People, technology, strategy [PDF] (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall. Retrieved from

Masberg, B., Chase, D., & Madlem, M. (2003). A Delphi study of tourism training and education needs in Washington State. Journal of Human Resources in Hospitality & Tourism, 2(2), 1. doi:10.1300/J171v02n02•01.

Morrison, A. M. (2010).  Hospitality & travel marketing (4th ed., International ed.).  Clifton Park, NY: Delmar Cengage Learning.

Saunders, R. (2009). Employer investment in workplace learning [PDF]. Canadian Policy Research Networks. Retrieved from

Service Skills Australia. (2015). About. Retrieved from

Tourism Vancouver Island (TAVI). (2010). 2010 Training and needs assessment survey [PDF]. Retrieved from:

WorldHost Training Services. (n.d.). WorldHost: Hall of fame. Retrieved from

WorldHost Training Services. (2013). Remarkable service in the age of social media. Retrieved from


Figure 9.1 Family Checking In – WorldHost by LinkBC is used under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

Figure 9.2 Woman on Headset – WorldHost by LinkBC is used under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.  

Figure 9.3 huh? by Liz is used under a CC BY-NC 2.0 license.

Figure 9.4 Happy Birthday from Mom by Peter Lee is used under a CC BY-NC 2.0 license.  

Figure 9.5 1954- Service by James Vaughan is used under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.

Figure 9.6 new currency by Roy is used under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license. 

Figure 9.7 Complaints button by SEO is used under a CC BY SA 2.0 license.  

Figure 9.8 Listen, Understand, Act by Stephen Shorrock is used under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.

Figure 9.9 Welcome to Vancouver 2010 by roaming-the-planet is used under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.  

Figure 9.10 Accent Inns Online Review by LinkBC is used under a CC BY 2.0 license. 

Figure 9.11 Man on Blackberry – WorldHost by LinkBC is used under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

Long Descriptions

Figure 9.3 long description: A sign saying, “Tim Hortons customers only. 20 minute limit. No loitering. Customers must be in the store or in their vehicle. All others will be removed at owners risk and expense. [Return to Figure 9.3]

Figure 9.10 long description: A customer gives a fairly positive review but comments on the older furniture. The manager thanks him for his review and adds that they will be updating the furniture and hopes he will stay again. [Return to Figure 9.10]


Chapter 10. Environmental Stewardship

Don Webster

Learning Objectives

  • Define commonly used environmental stewardship terminology
  • Articulate the impacts of climate change on tourism
  • Identify other environmental impacts caused by, and affecting, tourism and hospitality sectors
  • Describe a variety of initiatives to mitigate the impacts of environmental damage
  • Explain how the environmental management system in BC functions
  • Illustrate the conflicts that exist between tourism and resource extraction in BC


Figure 10.1 A foraging black bear is photographed by a tourist on a wildlife viewing trip. Protecting BC’s natural assets is paramount to maintaining the province’s tourism product.

One of the main reasons people travel is to visit areas that are unspoiled, natural, beautiful, or unique in terms of their local environment. Unfortunately, through our actions either as tourism businesses or as visitors, we risk damaging the natural environments we depend on (Hardin, 1968; Williams & Ponsford, 2008). For this reason, environmental stewardship in tourism is of paramount importance.

Environmental stewardship can be defined as “the responsible use (including conservation) of natural resources in a way that takes full and balanced account of the interests of society, future generations, and other species, as well as of private needs, and accepts significant answerability to society” (Worrell & Appleby, 2000, p. 263).

This chapter explores the concept of environmental stewardship, the impacts of tourism on the natural environment (and vice versa), and ways we can minimize these impacts.

History of Environmental Stewardship

The topic of stewardship entered public consciousness in the middle of the last century in the works of writers such as Aldo Leopard (A Sand Country Almanac), Garret Hardin (The Tragedy of the Commons), and Rachel Carson (Silent Spring). Building on this growing consciousness, the concept of sustainability and sustainable development was introduced.

One of the first commonly accepted definitions of sustainable development came from the World Commission on Environment and Development, later renamed the Brundtland Commission. It defined sustainable development as meeting “the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (Brundtland, 1987, p. 41). Sustainable development differs from environmental stewardship in that it may include aspects of social, economic and environmental sustainability, whereas environmental stewardship focuses solely on the natural world.

A related concept is environmental management, where the natural resources of the environment are managed through policies designed to protect natural values while providing a framework for use. In tourism, this management may be the responsibility of many groups including individual operators, tourism industry organizations, non-governmental organizations, or government agencies (Mercer, 2004; Williams & Ponsford, 2008).

A large crowd of people sit in a lecture hall.
Figure 10.2 Delegates at the 2009 United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen

The Need for Change

Experts around the world agree that the need for stewardship has never been greater, as there exists overwhelming evidence that the environment is being irrevocably damaged by human actions. Climate change caused by increased greenhouse gas emissions (World Tourism Organization, 2008a) and the loss of biodiversity due to declining habitat loss are just two compelling issues.

Tourism continues to grow globally, and many tourists are in pursuit of pristine, natural environments. Development of tourism products results in increased urbanization, overuse, exceeding carrying capacity, and contamination of natural resources (Williams & Ponsford, 2008). Later in this chapter, we’ll provide several examples of specific tourism and hospitality impacts and approaches to mitigating them.

There is one issue that takes precedence over all others: climate change. The next section focuses specifically on this critical global issue and its relationship to the tourism industry.

Tourism and Climate Change

A large mouuntain with bare rock showing through the snow.
Figure 10.3 Helms Glacier melting

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded the “observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely (> 90% probability) the result of human activities that are increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere” (World Tourism Organization, 2008a, p. 38). Climate change should be considered to be one of the most important challenges currently facing the tourism industry.

Take a Closer Look: Climate Change and Tourism

The report entitled Climate Change and Tourism: Responding to Global Challenges, published by the World Tourism Organization (2008b), discusses the implications of climate change to the global tourism industry. It also suggests climate change adaption measures to be undertaken. Find the full report at Climate Change and Tourism: Responding to Global Challenges [PDF]:

Impacts of Climate Change

According to the World Tourism Organization, impacts from climate change on tourism include (2008a):

Direct climate impacts are changes that occur as a result of warming trends, cooling trends, or extreme weather events. Examples include a lack of snow to operate mountain resorts, melting glaciers in mountainous regions, and floods, landslides, and wildfires that could affect tourist areas.

Debris and a banged up boat are strewn across a beach.
Figure 10.4 The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which destroyed large sections of coastline in New York and New Jersey, including popular tourist attraction Coney Island (seen in the distance)

Indirect environmental change impacts are the byproducts of climate change. Global temperature changes may create water shortages, a loss of biodiversity, impacts to landscape aesthetics, and damage to infrastructure through extreme weather events. Examples in tourism include the inability to maintain resort facilities in desert environments due to water shortages, erosion of tropical atolls from rising sea levels, extinction of valuable wildlife species due to changes in habitat, and increased costs of maintaining infrastructure in the face of environmental change.

Impacts of mitigation policies on tourist mobility will become apparent as the tourism industry adjusts to environmental changes. Environmental impact mitigation strategies may create challenges for the long-term sustainability of the tourism industry. Tourism products may be offered over a shorter season, prices may increase due to a rise in operating costs, and there may be a shortage of pristine natural areas available for visits.

Indirect societal change impacts will slowly become apparent. Economic growth may be stunted in some areas and increase in others, creating societal inequality between nations. Political instability may arise in areas that are facing drastic environmental impact. All these changes will present new challenges to the industry and may threaten the long-term security of the industry (Watson, Zinyowera, & Moss, 1997; World Tourism Organization, 2008a).

Table 10.1 provides a detailed list of these impacts and their implications for tourism, as compiled by the World Tourism Organization.

Table 10.1: Major climate change impacts and implications for tourism destinations
[Skip Table]
Impact Implications for Tourism
Warmer temperatures Altered seasonality, heat stress for tourists, cooling costs, changes in plant-wildlife-insect populations and distribution, infectious disease ranges (e.g., mountain pine beetle infestation in BC)
Decreasing snow cover and shrinking glaciers Lack of snow in winter destinations, increased snow-making costs, shorter winter sports seasons aesthetics of landscape reduced (e.g., early closure of Lower Mainland mountain resorts due to lack of snow in 2014)
Increasing frequency and intensity of extreme storms Risk for tourism facilities, increased insurance costs/loss of insurability, business interruption costs (e.g., superstorm Hurricane Sandy and its destruction of parts of Coney Island)
Reduced precipitation and increased evaporation in some regions Water shortages, competition over water between tourism and other sectors, competition for water between visitors and residents, desertification, increased wildfires threatening infrastructure and affecting demand (e.g., drought in California)
Increased frequency of heavy precipitation in some regions Flooding damage to historic architectural and cultural assets, damage to tourism infrastructure, altered seasonality (e.g., flooding in Souris, Manitoba, causing washout of swinging bridge attraction)
Sea level rise Coastal erosion, loss of beach area, higher costs to protect and maintain waterfronts (e.g., threat to PEI’s historic West Point Lighthouse; now close to falling off cliff due to erosion)
Sea surface temperatures rise Increased coral bleaching and marine resource and aesthetics degradation in dive and snorkel destinations, increased invasive species in waterways (e.g., threat from yellow perch driving out salmon in BC rivers and lakes)
Changes in terrestrial and marine biodiversity Loss of natural attractions and species from destinations, higher risk of diseases in tropical-subtropical countries (e.g., heavy rainfall leading to an increase in dengue fever and malaria)
More frequent and larger forest fires Loss of natural attractions; increase of flooding risk; damage to tourism infrastructure (e.g., destruction of Kettle Valley Railway bridges used by cyclists in 2003 BC forest fire)
Soil changes (e.g., moisture levels, erosion, and acidity) Loss of archaeological assets and other natural resources, with impacts on destination attractions
Data source: World Tourism Organization, 2008a, p.61

To understand how we might begin to address these impacts and other environmental issues, it’s helpful to understand the fundamentals of environmental stewardship theory, which is explored in the next section.

Environmental Stewardship Theory

Some basic concepts of environmental management and ethics, especially as they apply to tourism, include carrying capacity, footprint, tragedy of the commons, and the tourism paradox.

Carrying Capacity

Carrying capacity is “the average maximum number of individuals of a given species that can occupy a particular habitat without permanently impairing the productive capacity of that habitat” (Rees, 2001, p. 229).

Young people on a beach at night drinking with beer bottles lying in the sand.
Figure 10.5 A tourist’s snapshot of a “full moon party” in Thailand, where bottles, trash, and human waste litter the beach for days afterward, and noise and light pollution are common

This concept has been applied to tourism in the context of a tourism carrying capacity (TCC), “the maximum number of visitors which an area can sustain without unacceptable deterioration of the physical environment and without considerably diminishing user satisfaction” (Salerno, Viviano, Manfredi, Caroli, Thankuri, & Tartari, 2013, p. 116).

Take a Closer Look: Vehicle Congestion in Banff National Park

In late 2014, the Town of Banff approved $70,000 to study the feasibility of introducing a gondola network to connect the Banff Centre, the Banff Springs Hotel, the Upper Hot Springs, and the existing mountain gondola. That summer the town experienced 54 days of congestion that exceeded its threshold of 20,000 vehicles per day, with vehicle waits and idle times of up to 1.5 hours during peak periods. To learn more about the issue and proposed solutions, read “Banff Considers Potential of Gondola Network”:

There are many examples of TCC being applied in tourism globally. In Canada, national parks use the concept to ensure visitor numbers are restricted to a sustainable level. Studies of tourism in the Cayman Islands indicate this destination may soon be exceeding its TCC. Although TCC is a theoretical concept that is often discussed and utilized for analysis, in reality it can be challenging to restrict the numbers of tourists arriving at a destination.


Ecological footprint is essentially a tool to analyze the impact of a population on Earth (Rees, 2001). The model calculates the total area of land and water resources used to support the population, presenting it in a manner that can be easily related to — usually in terms of the amount of land needed to support an individual at the standard of living that person is used to.

Typically, residents of industrialized, developed nations (such as Canada) require a larger land area to support their lifestyle than residents of developing nations, who have smaller ecological footprints due to lower consumption.

Tragedy of the Commons

Tragedy of the commons is an economic theory first proposed by Garrett Hardin in 1968, which states that if individuals are given the chance to overuse a common property, they will, in order to realize the maximum personal benefits. If every person does this, common property quickly becomes overused and damaged (Hardin, 1968).

For example, a group of tourism operators may look at a pristine natural area and see a chance for economic profit, and in the race for development, little or nothing is done to protect the area. If this unchecked development were to continue, the damage to the environment could reach a point where the elements that attracted tourists in the first place are irreversibly damaged, thus resulting in the “tragedy” that Hardin discusses (Hardin, 1968).

The tragedy of the commons leads to something known as the tourism paradox, a concept that describes the paradoxical nature of tourism’s relationship with the environment.

The Tourism Paradox

Moutains can be seen across the ocean.
Figure 10.6 BC’s tourism assets centre heavily on scenery. Here is the Coastal Range and oceanfront are seen together from Neck Point Park near Nanaimo.

A common theme promoted by many tourism destinations is their location in some of the most ecologically fragile environments in existence — coastal, mountain, and river environments (Williams & Ponsford, 2008). Tourism requires these areas to be intact to serve as an attraction to visitors. Tourists expect a clean physical environment, appropriate seasonal conditions, and diversity of wildlife. Destinations failing to provide at least some of these elements risk losing their competitive edge in the global market; visitors will steer clear of polluted, barren landscapes with unpredictable or uncomfortable weather.

Spotlight On: The Resort Municipality of Whistler

The community of Whistler relies heavily on natural resources for its local tourism products, such as skiing, and has long been active in sustainability initiatives. The plan, Whistler 2020, sets out integrated community strategies for enhancing community life, enhancing the resort experience, ensuring economic viability, protecting the environment, and partnering for success. For more information about the plan and Whistler’s progress with these initiatives, visit Whistler 2020:

At the same time, the tourism industry is itself causing environmental damage through its own development in pristine areas, consumption of resources, and contribution to climate change. This is the paradox: as an industry, tourism both creates damage and suffers from it. That’s why it’s critical for the industry to be proactive about environmental sustainability in tourism; failing to do so may result in our downfall (Williams & Ponsford, 2008).

Before we gain a better understanding of the ways the tourism industry and individual operators can try to mitigate their impacts, let’s take a closer look at the overall management of BC’s environmental resources.

Environmental Management in BC

Environmental impacts in BC are managed by a variety of governmental organizations, primarily at the provincial or federal level. Each of these agencies has a role to play, from regulation of land access and resource extraction to environmental monitoring and cleanup. To understand how the impacts are managed, let’s review the basic categories of land use in BC.

Land Use

There are essentially four broad land categories in BC: private land, provincial Crown land, federal Crown land, and First Nations land.

Private land in BC is any land where private property rights apply. This includes residential, commercial, and agricultural zoned land throughout the province. If private property rights apply, the owner has more rights over that land for development and use than any other classification of land. Tourism companies wishing to operate on private property need to gain ownership of the land, or failing that, permission to operate on the land. Private property accounts for approximately 5% of the land mass in BC (Government of BC, 2011).

The term Crown land applies to any land that is owned by either the provincial or federal government. Provincial Crown land makes up 94% of BC, making it the largest category of land in the province. Provincial Crown land is available for a wide range of activities that encourage recreation and economic development, including tourism (Government of BC, 2011).

Figure 10.7 A BC Parks ranger conducts an interpretive program

Designated park areas are managed by BC Parks, the agency that reviews and issues permits for tourism companies to operate within a park. Other provincial Crown land is managed by a variety of government agencies, such as the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations (MFLNR).

Federal Crown land is all land that is owned by the Government of Canada; in BC, less than 1% of the overall land is federal Crown land. It primarily consists of parks and protected areas that are managed by Parks Canada, the federal agency that has a mandate to preserve and share “natural and cultural heritage” and help ensure enjoyment and appreciation “for present and future generations” (Parks Canada, n.d.).

Take a Closer Look: Parks and Protected Areas in BC

Two examples of pristine parks in BC are Pacific Rim National Park and Garibaldi Provincial Park. Pacific Rim is operated by Parks Canada. It covers a beautiful stretch of land along the west coast of Vancouver Island. Visit the webpage at Pacific Rim National Park Reserve:

Garibaldi is managed by BC Parks. It is located just north of Vancouver and protects a pristine mountainous region. Learn more at Garibaldi Provincial Park: Both parks serve as significant natural attractions for tourism in BC.

First Nations land includes any area where Aboriginal title has been established and responsibilities for management lie with the relevant First Nations group. Large areas of designated Crown land in BC are considered by First Nations groups as traditional, and these are currently going through the treaty negotiation process, which will likely result in a larger proportion of the BC land area coming under First Nations management.

Land Use for Tourism and Hospitality

Businesses and organizations wishing to use Crown land for economic development must apply and be approved for Crown land tenure, which is an agreement with the BC government to use the land for commercial purposes. Examples of the types of tourism operations that might seek tenure include mountain resorts, golf courses, backcountry lodges, tour operators, resort development, and marina construction. It’s estimated that about 16% of the tourism industry in BC depends on access to Crown land through the Crown land tenure program (Government of BC, 2010).

Different tenures are available depending on the type, location, and intensity of use proposed. A temporary permit grants use for approved activities for up to two years, but not exclusive use (other commercial operators may still use the area). A licence of occupation, the next level of tenure, provides for light development (e.g., semi-permanent structures or trails). This type of licence is typically issued for terms of five to 30 years and is renewable. A lease is a long-term contract for tenure, typically for 30 years. With a lease, operators can make substantial improvements to the land including significant structures such as lodges, restaurants, ski lifts, roads, and so on. It is the longest term and the most secure type of tenure (Government of BC, 2010).

Any tourism business wishing to operate on First Nations land requires permission from the local First Nations band. Companies wanting to operate in a national park also need to apply for a permit. Although resource extraction is restricted, national parks often encourage tourism development that is sustainable and appropriate for the local environment.

Environmental Protection and Assessment

Other elements of environmental stewardship in BC fall to the Ministry of Environment. This ministry has five divisions: Environmental Protection, Environmental Sustainability and Strategic Policy, Parks and Protected Areas, Climate Action Secretariat, and Conservation Officer Service. These divisions are responsible for environmental cleanup and spill response, climate change initiatives, protected areas management, and wildlife (British Columbia Ministry of Environment, n.d.a). This applies to all individuals and commercial enterprises in BC, including tourism.

Additionally, the Environmental Assessment Office plays an important role in environmental stewardship on Crown lands in BC. All major projects being proposed for development on Crown land must undergo an environmental assessment and have it approved by this office, which is a neutral agency set up specifically for this purpose. Projects are evaluated not only for their potential impacts on the environment, but also on their economic, social, cultural, and heritage aspects. Large-scale tourism projects such as mountain resorts are required to proceed through the environmental assessment process (Environmental Assessment Office, n.d.).

Large sections of trees are missing from mountain sides due to logging.
Figure 10.8 Logging sites visible from the air in Jervis Inlet

The current land management system in BC has led to numerous conflicts between tourism operators and resource extraction operations such as mining and forestry. Often, overlapping tenure is given to multiple companies with conflicting operational goals. Tourism operators typically require a clean environment, high-quality viewscapes, intact biodiversity, and an environment free of industrial scars. To maintain these values, any resource extraction needs to occur far from where tourism operators conduct their activities. In recent years, tensions have been building as access to wilderness areas becomes scarcer, with tourism values often falling second to resource extraction under the existing system (Webster, 2013).

Take a Closer Look: Conflicts Between Tourism and Resource Extraction in BC

Tourism companies complain that despite being part of the $1.6 billion nature-based tourism industry in BC, the government favours traditional logging values. This article discusses one example on northern Vancouver Island where a kayaking operator feels logging is threatening its livelihood. Learn more by reading the article, “Logging Threatens Tourism, Kayaking Company Charges”:

The issues discussed above provide a framework for thinking about environmental management and the impacts of the tourism industry in BC. As part of the industry, we have an important responsibility to recognize impacts and take steps to reduce them. The next section addresses how we might do just that.

Mitigating Tourism and Hospitality Impacts

Tracks in the snow.
Figure 10.9 Moose tracks on Liard River in northern BC

In recent years in BC, the tourism industry has felt the impacts of climate change, habitat destruction, biodiversity loss, and increased conflicts over the use of natural areas. The winters of 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 were two of the warmest on record, and numerous low-elevation coastal mountain resorts were forced to close in the middle of the winter season (Hager, 2015). As well, the province is experiencing increased pressure on endangered wildlife species that draw tourists and residents alike. The death of an orca whale off the coast of Vancouver Island in late 2014 raised questions of water pollution and contamination (Theodore, 2014).

Take a Closer Look: The Future of Mountain Resorts 

With their dependence on quality snow conditions for guests, ski areas will likely be among the first to be impacted by climate change. Read an article on this topic from the Tyee, “Peak Snow? BC Ski Resorts Brace for Warmer Era”:

In the face of this negative environmental news, there are a variety of initiatives underway that have the potential to implement real change. These include:

This section explores these potential solutions.

Carbon Offsetting

Carbon offsetting is a standardized, regulated system that provides organizations with the ability to invest in green initiatives that will counterbalance their emissions, hence creating a carbon neutral situation (David Suzuki Foundation, 2009).

The concept of carbon offsetting stems from a recognition that despite a desire to entirely eliminate carbon emissions, sometimes doing so isn’t immediately feasible. Consequently, carbon offsetting has proven popular with tourism companies that can offset some or all of their emissions, either by themselves or by providing the opportunity for customers to do so. Examples are most commonly found in the transportation sector, where the reliance on traditional fossil fuels makes it challenging to completely eliminate carbon emissions.

A symbol saying "carbon neutral" on the side of a sea plane.
Figure 10.10 A detail from the side of a Harbour Air seaplane

Take Harbour Air, for instance, a small BC airline. Since 2007, the company has completely offset all of the emissions produced by its airplanes by investing in energy-efficiency and fuel-switching projects in BC. The cost of the projects is passed on to passengers through a small levy added to the ticket price, and despite the cost increase, passenger traffic increased by 12% to 15% in the following year (Offsetters, n.d.).

Take a Closer Look: Carbon Offsetting and the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics

The Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics were the first carbon-neutral Olympic Games. For more information, read the discussion paper, Meeting the Challenge: A Carbon Neutral 2010 Winter Games:

Carbon offsetting isn’t just for the transportation sector, however. Tinhorn Creek Winery in Oliver has become a tourism destination for wine and culinary tourists and has some innovative conservation concepts. In addition to having an offsetting program, the winery runs its vehicles on biodiesel. It also holds virtual tastings with travel media over the web (media obtain samples of the product ahead of time), eliminating travel to the Okanagan to have a Tinhorn experience. The property remains dedicated to exploring sustainability concepts as its survival is based on mitigating climate change and the negative effects of drastic weather changes on wine production (Tinhorn Creek Winery, 2014).

Energy Conservation

Despite the relatively low cost of electricity in BC, it benefits all operators to do their part by reducing consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Not only is this the right thing to do for the physical environment, it’s also a means to save money.

For example, the Four Seasons in Vancouver reduced their electricity consumption by 4,000 megawatt hours in the period between fall 2012 and spring 2014. They did this by installing timers and photocells on lights, auditing appliances, ensuring proper maintenance of the furnace and HVAC systems, and cleaning light fixtures and fans so these operated at their best. The energy reduction represented a savings of $135,000 for the property (Hui, 2014).

Take a Closer Look: Energy Conservation in the Hospitality Sector

BC Hydro’s PowerSmart program for businesses has helped operators large and small — from BC Ferries to the Pear Tree Restaurant in Burnaby — to reduce their footprint and save money. Read success stories, check out helpful tools, and learn more about the program by visiting Hospitality: Increase profits by reducing energy costs:

BC Ferries is another organization that has realized energy savings. It did this with the help of BC Hydro education programs and incentives, retrofitting lighting and installing radiant heat in a workshop and toll booths. These efforts yielded an energy savings of over 335 megawatt hours in one year. That represents enough energy to power 31 average homes over the same time period (BC Hydro, 2013).

Water Conservation

A large stream runs down through a forest.
Figure 10.11 A hiker comes across surging fresh water from a “pineapple express” storm on BC’s coast

British Columbia is home to 25% of Canada’s fresh water, and so to many it appears that water conservation is not an issue in the province. However, water is not evenly distributed across regions, nor is it equally available all seasons of the year (BC Ministry of Environment, n.d.b). This is especially evident on Salt Spring Island, a popular tourist destination with numerous small accommodation properties. The island experiences water shortages in the peak summer season when lake and groundwater levels drop and demand is highest.

In 2006, a number of local water conservation groups on Salt Spring Island surveyed 117 accommodation providers to determine what measures might be taken to alleviate the summer pressure on freshwater systems. They were pleasantly surprised to find that several properties had already taken steps, including installing low-flow toilets and flow restrictors on shower heads, requiring minimum two-night stays (which reduces the amount of laundry required), and offering visitor education campaigns. The combined efforts of properties on the island have proven to make a significant difference to the collective capacity of 1,500 guests per night (O’Callaghan, 2006).

Food Production and the Environment

As discussed in Chapter 4 on food and beverage services, there is increasing awareness among the general public about the importance of healthful eating. This goes hand in hand with an increased understanding of food production issues including environmental impacts such as pollution, soil depletion, and the toxicity (both to humans and the environment) of industrial food growth practices. Over the last 30 years, American (and to an extent, Canadian) food growth has centred on the mass production of inexpensive staple foods such as corn and soy, which are used in unhealthy foods like high-fructose corn syrup and soybean oil, and are fed to the animals we eat (University of Minnesota, 2009).

Spotlight On: Island Chefs Collaborative

The Island Chefs Collaborative (ICC) is an organization that supports connections between local agriculture and the food and beverage industry. Its vision is a local and sustainable food and agriculture system for Vancouver Island. For more information, visit the Island Chefs Collaborative website:

Farming mass amounts of one crop is known as monoculture, a practice that depletes the soil and encourages the use of pesticides and fertilizers for increased production. The impacts of these chemicals to date include the creation of a “dead zone” at the outflow of the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico, where no fish or other animals can live (University of Minnesota, 2009).

The soil in which food is grown is becoming less rich as commercial fertilizers focus only on building specific nutrients. Combined with the long distances that foods are shipped (sometimes causing nutrients to be depleted), consumers are becoming wary of commercially produced foods (University of Minnesota, 2009).

The 100-Mile Diet and Farm to Table

In 2005, two BC-based journalists, J.B. MacKinnon and Alisa Smith, began chronicling the challenges of only eating food produced within 100 miles of their homes, as part of a serial of articles for the Tyee. Their posts became a book, The 100-Mile Diet, launched in 2007 and heralded as a vanguard of the local food movement (Tyee, 2005).

Spotlight On: Circle Farm Tour

Created through a partnership between destination marketing organizations in the Fraser Valley communities of Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Agassiz-Harrison, and Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows, the Circle Farm Tour brings awareness to farming practices and farmland conservation while creating a collaborative tourism product. Self-guided tours are made possible through a series of branded maps, brochures, and a central website. For more information, visit the Circle Farm Tour website:

Organizations such as FarmFolk CityFolk, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to food sustainability in the province, have been promoting farm-to-table dining for over 20 years. Their efforts include working with restaurants to bring quality ingredients to the sector, and hosting annual events that celebrate the “feast of fields” in regions such as the Okanagan (FarmFolk CityFolk, 2014).

Waste Management

Figure 10.12 A food scraps bin ready for composting, collected at a Vancouver farmer’s market

In 2012 in BC, the amount of garbage generated was equivalent to 570 kilograms per person. With landfills and treatment sites filling to capacity (and sometimes beyond), it’s imperative that communities and businesses work together in the practice of proper waste management through implementing recycling programs, reducing garbage, properly treating industrial and hazardous waste, and treating sewage and wastewater (Government of BC, n.d.).

One very effective means of reducing garbage taken to the landfill is implementing a food waste program in which food scraps are placed in a green bin and collected by the community for composting. The City of Vancouver initially introduced such a program to single family households from 2011 to 2013 and saw a 30% drop in garbage generated. In 2014, the program was expanded to include all households and businesses and placed a ban on food scraps in the garbage. The program met resistance from the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association, which viewed the initiative as placing an extra cost and being a logistical challenge for members (Nagel, 2014). Individual restaurateurs were hopeful, however, that the city would help businesses by increasing pickup and expanding the efficiency of their other recycling programs (Robinson, 2014).

Accreditation and Certification

Environmental accreditation or certification is a type of voluntary regulation where an organization agrees to follow a set of standards, predefined processes, or regulations. These are generally developed by independent non-governmental organizations with a goal of reducing the environmental impact within an industry. Accreditation can encompass any of the practices discussed so far — from carbon offsetting to energy and water conservation to waste management.

Beyond the value of making the ethical decision of working to reduce environmental impacts, organizations receive value by being able to promote themselves as being environmentally friendly and therefore attracting consumers (Font, 2002). And for guests, choosing an independently accredited business may help them avoid companies that are guilty of greenwashing, which is the promotion of environmentally friendly tourism products without actually achieving the environmental standard promised (Lelenicz & Simoni, 2012; Self, Self, & Bell-Haynes, 2010).

Spotlight On: Green Key Global

Green Key Global is an international certification body that evaluates the accommodations and meetings industries on the basis of their sustainable initiatives. Headquartered in Ontario, its Green Key Eco-Rating Program awards from 1 to 5 keys to hotels, with 47 properties currently holding the highest rating. Green Key Global conducts an on-site assessment and provides operators with suggestions for improving their sustainability efforts. Awarded keys are then used as marketing and promotional tools. A similar program serves the meetings and events sector. For more information, visit the Green Key Global website:

Organizations join such programs voluntarily. This typically involves going through an audit to prove adherence to a set of environmental standards (Font, 2002). Generally, an audit consists of an independent third party visiting a business or operation and reviewing its practices against a checklist of standards; those that pass earn the certification or accreditation.

It is estimated that over 100 different tourism environmental certification programs exist, each with different standards and criteria (Self, Self, & Bell-Haynes, 2010).

Spotlight On: Green Tourism Canada

Green Tourism Canada is an environmental tourism certification program where tourism operators are assessed for adherence to sustainability principles. It offers ongoing support and consultation so that operators may work to achieve a high level of environmental sustainability. For more information, visit Green Tourism Canada:

Whether it be through carbon offsetting, energy and water conservation, increased use of local and organic food products, or official accreditation programs, the tourism industry has a number of options for lessening the impacts of businesses on the physical environment.


Numerous studies suggest society will face increasing pressure for scarce resources and a changing natural environment due to habitat destruction, pollution, and climate change (Hardin, 1968; Mercer, 2004; Williams & Ponsford, 2008; Wong, 2004; World Tourism Organization, 2008b). The tourism industry must recognize its considerable contribution to this global challenge and take aggressive steps to mitigate the impacts.

Figure 10.13 Bertram Beach near Kelowna, one of many BC sites the industry should strive to keep beautiful

On a global scale, the tourism industry needs to recognize its release of significant carbon emissions and explore ways to reduce these while maintaining the mobility needed for travel. On a local scale, tourism stakeholders need to recognize the risk they pose to the destruction of local pristine environments and take steps to ensure the sustainability of their operations. Only by working together can we ensure a future for tourism and our society as a whole.

This chapter has addressed a major risk to the tourism industry — the threat of environmental impacts and disasters on businesses and communities. Chapter 11 addresses the concept of risk management and legal liability in the industry.

Key Terms

  • BC Parks: the agency responsible for management of provincial parks in British Columbia
  • Carbon offsetting: a market-based system that provides options for organizations to invest in green initiatives to offset their own carbon emissions
  • Carrying capacity: the maximum number of a given species that can be sustained in a specific habitat or biosphere without negative impacts
  • Crown land: land owned and managed by either the provincial or federal governments
  • Crown land tenure: rights given to commercial organizations to operate on Crown land
  • Direct climate impacts: what will occur directly as a result of changes to the climate such as extreme weather events
  • Ecological footprint: a model that calculates the amount of natural resources needed to support society at its current standard of living
  • Environmental accreditation or certification: a voluntary system that establishes environmental standards and regulates adherence to reducing environmental impacts
  • Environmental Assessment Office: the provincial agency responsible for reviewing large projects occurring on Crown land in BC
  • Environmental management: policies and procedures designed to protect natural values while providing a framework for use
  • Environmental stewardship: the practice of ensuring natural resources are conserved and used responsibly in a way that balances the needs of various groups
  • First Nations land: land under Aboriginal title or that is managed by First Nations
  • Greenwashing: the act of claiming a product is “green” or environmentally friendly solely for marketing and promotional purposes
  • Indirect environmental change impacts: what will occur indirectly as a result of climate change, including damages to infrastructure
  • Ministry of Environment: the provincial ministry responsible for the environment in BC
  • Monoculture: a farming practice that depletes the soil and encourages the use of pesticides and fertilizers for increased production
  • Parks Canada: the federal agency responsible for management of national parks, historic sites, and marine conservation areas
  • Private land: any land where private property rights apply in BC
  • Sustainable development: planning and development that is mindful of future generations while meeting society’s needs today
  • Tourism carrying capacity (TCC): the maximum number of people that can visit a specific habitat in a set period of time without negative impacts, and without compromising the visitor experience
  • Tourism paradox: the concept that tourism operations destroy its very requirements for success — a pristine natural environment
  • Tragedy of the commons: the tendency of society to overconsume natural resources for individual gain


  1. What does carrying capacity mean? Provide an example from your local tourism industry.
  2. List five impacts that climate change will create and five corresponding implications for the tourism industry.
  3. Articulate the difference between provincial Crown land, federal Crown land, private land, and First Nations land.
  4. What is the Environmental Assessment Office and what are its responsibilities?
  5. Use the carbon footprint calculator ( to determine your household carbon footprint. How many tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) do you emit per year? Name three actions you could take to reduce your footprint.
  6. Explain what the tourism paradox is, giving examples from your local tourism industry.
  7. This video from the David Suzuki Foundation presents the case that insurance companies are reacting to climate change because it is impacting them financially through claims after extreme weather events. Watch the video, Your insurance is being affected by climate change, here is how: What do you think? Will insurance companies continue to offer coverage in the face of increasing extreme weather events and large-scale insurance payouts?
  8. Visit the website “The Story of Stuff” ( Watch the movies and review the fact sheets. Reflect on the message that the organization is delivering and answer the following questions:
    • What is the core message of the organization? Why is it important?
    • How can you as an individual make a real change to mitigate consumptive behaviour?
    • Relating these principles to tourism, how would you implement them in a tourism company?

Case Study: Jumbo Mountain Resort

Jumbo Mountain Resort near Invermere has long been one of the most controversial tourism developments in BC. Proponents claim that it will add a world-class skiing resort product to the economy. Opponents argue that the environmental impacts are not worth the limited economic return it offers, including threatening grizzly bears and other sensitive species (Lavoie, 2014).

The planning process for the resort has taken over 20 years with initial permits issued in 2004. Since then the project faced several delays in order to clear conditions of its environmental assessment. In December 2014, the project was delayed again as the government asked for more time to evaluate whether the newly poured foundations for lodge buildings were located in avalanche zones (Shaw, 2014).

Conduct your own research about Jumbo Mountain Resort using a minimum of three sources, and answer the questions below.

  1. What are some of the environmental impacts listed by those opposed to the resort?
  2. How might these impacts be mitigated? What steps is the company taking to do this?
  3. In addition to environmental impacts and avalanche risk, have there been there any other challenges to the resort?
  4. Given documented record warm temperatures and low snowfall in other resort areas of the province, and the currently relatively stable snow conditions at Jumbo, do you think it’s a good long-term investment? Why or why not?
  5. What is the progress of the project today? Do a scan of social media and news sites and try to determine where public opinion lies.
  6. How is the company responding to critics regarding its environmental stewardship strategies? What platforms is it using to communicate?


BC Hydro. (2013, November 1). BC Ferries saves energy, from lighting to radiant heat in tollbooths. Retrieved from

British Columbia Ministry of Environment. (n.d.a). Ministry divisions. Retrieved from

British Columbia Ministry of Environment. (n.d.b). Water stewardship. Retrieved from

Brundtland, G. H. (1987). Report of the World Commission on environment and development: our common future [PDF]. United Nations. Retrieved from:

David Suzuki Foundation. (2009). Purchasing carbon offsets: A guide for Canadian consumer, businesses, and organizations. [PDF] Retrieved from:

Environmental Assessment Office. (n.d.). About. Retrieved from

FarmFolk CityFolk. (2014). About Us. Retrieved from

Font, X. (2002). Environmental certification in tourism and hospitality: progress, process and prospects. Tourism Management, 23(3), 197-205.

Government of BC. (2010). Mountain resorts. Retrieved from:

Government of BC. (2011). Crown Land: Indicators and statistics report. [PDF] Retrieved from

Government of BC. (n.d.). Waste management – Environment. Retrieved from

Hager, M. (2015, January 30th). How B.C.’s ski resorts are coping with global warmings’ threat to their existence. The Globe & Mail. Retrieved from:

Hardin, G. (1968). The tragedy of the commons. Science, 162(3859), 1243-1248.

Hui, Stephen. (2014, March 27). Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver shares energy conservation lessons for Earth Hour. Georgia Straight. Retrieved from

Lavoie, J. (2014, October 31). Jumbo Glacier Resort threatens grizzlies. Troy Media. Retrieved from

Lelenicz, M. & Simoni, S. (2012). Ecolabels in tourism. Agricultural Management, 14(4), 49-52.

Mercer, D. (2004). Tourism and resource management. In C. Hall, A. Lew & A. Williams (Eds.) A Companion to tourism (pp. 462 – 472). Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing.

Nagel, Jeff. (2014, May 22). Metro Vancouver disposal ban on food waste ‘unworkable’. Peace Arch News. Retrieved from

O’Callaghan, P. (2006). The greening of tourist accommodation on Salt Spring Island. The Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC. Retrieved from

Offsetters. (n.d.). Harbour Air. Retrieved from

Parks Canada. (n.d.). Mandate. Retrieved from

Rees, W. (2001). Ecological footprint, concept of. In Encyclopedia of Biodiversity (vol. 4). Waltham, MA: Academic Press, 229-244.

Robinson, M. (2014, October 2). For Vancouver restaurants, it’s not easy being green. The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved from

Salerno, F., Viviano, G., Manfredi, E. C., Caroli, P., Thakuri, S., & Tartari, G. (2013). Multiple carrying capacities from a management-oriented perspective to operationalize sustainable tourism in protected areas. Journal Of Environmental Management, 128, 116-125.

Self, R. M., Self, D. R., & Bell-Haynes, J. (2010). Marketing tourism in the Galapagos Islands: Ecotourism or greenwashing? International Business & Economics Research Journal, 9(6), 111.

Shaw, R. (2014, December 12). More delays for Jumbo Glacier Ski Resort. The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved from

Theodore, T. (2014, December 5). Endangered female killer whale found dead off Vancouver Island. The Globe & Mail. Retrieved from

Tinhorn Creek Winery. (2014). Tinhorn – Our winery – Sustainability – Carbon. Retrieved from

Tyee. (2005, June 28). 100-mile diet. Retrieved from

University of Minnesota. (2009, March 19). How are food and the environment related? Retrieved from

Watson, R. T., Zinyowera, M. C., & Moss, R. H. (Eds.). (1997). The regional impacts of climate change: an assessment of vulnerability. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from

Webster, D. (2013). Adventure tourism operators and snowmobiles; managing interactions. [PDF] Retrieved from

Williams, P. W., & Ponsford, I. F. (2008). Confronting tourism’s environmental paradox: Transitioning for sustainable tourism. Futures, 41(6), 396-404.

Wong, P. (2004). Environmental impacts of tourism. In C. Hall, A. Lew & A. Williams (Eds.) A companion to tourism (pp. 450 – 461). Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing.

World Tourism Organization. (2008a). Climate change and tourism: Responding to global challenges. [PDF] Retrieved from

World Tourism Organization. (2008b). From Davos to Bali: A tourism contribution to the challenge of climate change [PDF]. Retrieved from

Worrell, R., & Appleby, M. C. (2000). Stewardship of natural resources: definition, ethical and practical aspects. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, 12(3), 263-277.


Figure 10.1 Bear Watching, British Columbia, Canada by Travel Junction is used under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

Figure 10.2 COP15 UNFCCC Climate Change – Opening Ceremony by UN Climate Change is used under a CC BY-NC 2.0 license.

Figure 10.3 Helms Glacier melting in the hot sun by Kyle Pearce  is used under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

Figure 10.4 Dirty Boat: view of Coney Island from the beach after Hurricane Sandy by drpavloff is used under a CC BY-NC 2.0 license.

Figure 10.5 Full Moon Party by Dav Naginuma is used under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.

Figure 10.6 British Columbia Coast Range by gordon hunter is used under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

Figure 10.7 BC Parks Ranger A.J. by Park Ranger is used under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.

Figure 10.8 Logging decimation in Jervis Inlet by McKay Savage is used under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

Figure 10.9 I Will Follow by Bruce McKay is used under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

Figure 10.10 Harbour Air – the world’s first Carbon Neutral Airline by Djun Kim is used under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.

Figure 10.11 Pineapple Express by Steven Petty is used under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

Figure 10.12 Food Scraps Drop Spot project by Vancouver Farmers Market by brent granby is used under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.

Figure 10.13 Beautiful Bertram Beach, Kelowna BC by Stuart Madden is used under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.


Chapter 12. Aboriginal Tourism

Keith Henry and Terry Hood

Learning Objectives

  • Describe the socio-political context for Aboriginal tourism development
  • Identify steps taken to uphold indigenous rights as they relate to tourism in developing nations
  • Discuss the evolution of Aboriginal tourism in Canada and its connection to cultural/heritage tourism
  • Describe approaches taken to strengthen and increase the number of Aboriginal tourism businesses in Canada and BC
  • Describe the stages of market readiness and how these relate to Aboriginal tourism products and experiences
  • Explain the concept of authenticity and the challenges in delivering authentic visitor experiences
  • Articulate the importance of community involvement and effective partnerships in developing Aboriginal tourism businesses
  • Recognize the value of Aboriginal tourism to BC’s tourism industry, and key agencies responsible for its development
  • Relate success stories in Aboriginal tourism business operations and collaborations in BC, Canada, and elsewhere


In previous chapters, you’ve learned that Aboriginal tourism is an increasingly central part of BC’s tourism economy. In Canada, tourism operations that are majority owned and operated by First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people comprise this segment of the industry. This chapter explores the global context for Aboriginal tourism development, the history of the sector in BC, and important facts about Aboriginal tourism in BC today.

A large Haida eagle sculpture hangs from the ceiling.
Figure 12.1 A Haida sculpture welcomes people arriving at Vancouver International Airport

Today’s travellers are attracted to many global destinations because of the opportunity to interact with, and learn from, other cultures. Visitors to Australia can meet an Aboriginal guide who will help them feel a spiritual connection through a memorable outback experience. In New Zealand (Aotearoa in the Maori language), tourists are often welcomed into a ceremonial community marae, a communal or sacred centre that serves a religious and social purpose in Polynesian societies (New Zealand Maori Tourism Society, 2012).

In the mountainous region of northern Vietnam, traditionally dressed ethnic minority villagers are now opening their homes to international trekkers, thus generating new income for the community. In the United States, visitors to the ancient desert wonders of Monument Valley can enhance their experience in a Navaho-run hotel, enjoying indigenous cuisine while learning about the cultures of the Native American groups that have lived there for centuries.

Globally, indigenous peoples are those groups protected under international or national legislation as having specific rights based on their historical ties to a particular territory and their cultural or historical distinctiveness from other populations (Coates, 2004). Indigenous people in Canada are often called First peoples or Aboriginal peoples and have diverse languages, ceremonies, traditions, and histories. The Canadian Constitution Act recognizes three groups of Aboriginal people: First Nations, Inuit, and Métis.

Before learning more about Canadian First peoples and their social and cultural connections to tourism, let’s acknowledge the often negative impacts of recent history on indigenous peoples around the globe. Current attempts to influence positive change in this area will then be highlighted.

Tourism and Indigenous Human Rights

The history of tourism has seen considerable exploitation of indigenous peoples. Land has been expropriated, economic activity suppressed by outside interests, and cultural expressions (such as arts and crafts) have been appropriated by outside groups. Appropriation refers to the act of taking something for one’s own use, typically without the owner’s permission.

In recognition of these wider concerns, in 2007, the United Nations created the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. This marked a significant achievement in obtaining international recognition of key rights, including, but not limited to, self-determination, land use, and natural resources rights. It set forth the minimum standards for the survival, dignity, and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the world (United Nations, 2007).

Spotlight On: International Institute for Peace through Tourism

Started in Vancouver in 1988, the International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT) is now based in Africa and promotes the value of travel and cross-cultural exchange as a key potential contributor to global peace. It promotes tourism for its role in intercultural dialogue and exchanges, and supports indigenous communities’ right to self-determination. For more information, visit the International Institute for Peace through Tourism website:

Themes related to indigenous tourism were raised at this time, but it was not until 2012 that the Pacific Asia Travel Association organized a gathering of global indigenous tourism professionals to establish guiding principles for the development of indigenous tourism. These principles are now known as the Larrakia Declaration on the Development of Indigenous Tourism, named after the Larrakia Nation, the Australian Aboriginal host community for the meeting (PATA & WINTA, 2014).

Spotlight On: World Indigenous Tourism Alliance

World Indigenous Tourism Alliance (WINTA) was formed in Australia in 2012 during the same gathering that created the Larrakia Declaration. A global network, it is made up of over 170 indigenous and non-indigenous organizations in 40 countries, such as tourism associations, businesses, service providers, and government groups. For more information, visit the World Indigenous Tourism Alliance

The Larrakia Declaration

Figure 12.2 This “We Don’t Climb” sign expresses the traditional laws of Australian Aboriginal people and asks that tourists not climb Uluru (once known as Ayers Rock). In the background, dozens of people continue to climb.

According to the Larrakia Declaration, these are the key principles that should guide all culturally respectful indigenous tourism business development (World Indigenous Tourism Alliance, 2012, pp. 1-2):

“It is hereby resolved to adopt the following principles; that …

Using these guiding principles, it becomes clear that Aboriginal tourism development can be considered successful only if the rights of indigenous people are upheld.

Take a Closer Look: UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People

In 2007, the United Nations passed a declaration to address human rights violations against indigenous people. The document, sometimes known as UNDRIP, contains 46 articles, one of which is “Every indigenous individual has the right to a nationality” (United Nations, 2007, p. 5). For more information, read the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People [PDF]:

Before turning our attention to Canadian and BC Aboriginal tourism examples, let’s briefly consider the context in which these activities in tourism are occurring, and review more important definitions. We can do this by taking a closer look at Canada’s First peoples.

First Peoples in Canada

First Peoples: A Guide for Newcomers (Wilson & Henderson, 2014) is an excellent resource for tourism professionals who want to know more about the complex socio-political issues surrounding Aboriginal people in Canadian history and society today. This section contains highlights from this guide.

In 2011, approximately 1.4 million people in Canada identified themselves as Aboriginal — roughly 4.3% of the total population.

First Nations people are Aboriginal peoples who do not identify as Inuit or Métis. They have lived across present-day Canada for thousands of years and have numerous languages, cultures, and spiritual beliefs. For centuries, they managed their lands and resources with their own governments, laws, and traditions, but with the formation of the country of Canada, their way of life was changed forever. The government forced a system of band governance on First Nations so that they could no longer use their system of government. There are now 203 bands in BC, and 614 across the country (Wilson & Henderson, 2014).

Figure 12.3 First Nations performer at the opening of the Aboriginal Pavilion for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games

Colonial settlement has left a legacy of land displacement, economic deprivation, and negative health consequences that Canada’s First Nations are still striving to overcome (Wilson & Henderson, 2014). However, First Nations people are working hard to reclaim their traditions, and in many places there is an increasing pride in a revitalized culture.

Indian (or Native Indian) is still an important legal term in Canada, but many Aboriginal people associate it with government regulation and colonialism and its use has gone out of favour, unlike in the United States where American Indian is still common (Wilson & Henderson, 2014).

Inuit have lived in the Arctic region of Canada for countless years. Many Inuit still rely on the resources of the land, ice, and sea to maintain traditional connections to the land. The old ways of life were seriously compromised, however, when Inuit began to participate with European settlers in the fur trade. The Government of Canada accelerated this change by requiring many Inuit communities to move away from their traditional hunting and gathering ways of life on the land and into permanent, centralized settlements (Wilson & Henderson, 2014).

Spotlight On: Inuit Tapiriitt Kanatami

Inuit Tapiriitt Kanatami (ITK) is the national Inuit organization in Canada. It represents four regions: Nunatsiavut (Labrador), Nunavik (northern Quebec), Nunavut, and the Inuvialuit Settlement Region in the Northwest Territories. It is an advocacy organization that represents the interests of Inuit in environmental, social, political, and economic affairs, including economic and tourism development. For more information, visit the Inuit Tapiriitt Kanatami website:

Today, in spite of social and economic hardships created by this change, many Inuit communities focus on protecting their traditional way of life and language. Recently the inukshuk, an Inuit symbol used as a welcoming signpost for hunters, was used as a key emblem for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Note that non-Inuit people used to call Inuit people Eskimo, but this is now considered insulting and should be avoided (Wilson & Henderson, 2014).

Métis comes from the words to mix. In the 1600s and 1700s, many French and Scottish men migrated to Canada for the fur trade. Some of them had children with First Nations women and formed new communities, and their people became the first to be called Métis. Today, the infinity symbol on the Métis flag symbolizes the joining of two cultures that will live forever.

Spotlight On: Louis Riel Institute

The Louis Riel Institute in Winnipeg is dedicated to the preservation and celebration of Métis culture and supporting Métis in achieving their educational, career, and life goals. Its website features photographs and descriptions of Métis art and handicrafts as well as information about community programs. For more information, visit the Louis Riel Institute website:

The distinct Métis culture is known for its fine beadwork, fiddling, and jigging. Canadian and international tourists can learn from and enjoy participating in a large number of Métis festivals in most provinces across the country.

Take a Closer Look: Métis Nation Gateway

This portal site features information about the Métis Nation, including healing, economic development, environment, electoral reform, veterans’ issues, and more. The portal on economic development leads to information on community development, including tourism policy and plans [PDF]. To explore these resources, visit Métis Nation Gateway:

There is an increasing appreciation that intercultural exchanges can help strengthen cultures at risk, if managed thoughtfully. For example, the growing niche of Arctic cruise tourism has brought both opportunities and challenges to the isolated small communities of Canada’s rugged Arctic coast. In recognition, the World Wildlife Fund produced a Code of Conduct for Arctic tourists. In part it reads:

Respect Local Cultures:

  • Learn about the culture and customs of the areas you will visit before you go.
  • Respect the rights of Arctic residents. You are most likely to be accepted and welcomed if you travel with an open mind, learn about local culture and traditions, and respect local customs and etiquette.
  • If you are not travelling with a tour, let the community you will visit know that you are coming.
  • Supplies are sometimes scarce in the Arctic, so be prepared to bring your own.
  • Ask permission before you photograph people or enter their property or living spaces.”

(WWF International Arctic Programme, n.d., p. 2)

Tourism can promote community and economic development while preserving indigenous culture. With that in mind, let’s have a look at the evolution of Aboriginal tourism in Canada, and at some strategies to advance this segment of the industry.

Aboriginal Tourism in Canada

Evolution of Aboriginal Tourism in Canada

While there has always been some demand among visitors to Canada to learn more about Aboriginal heritage, driven by the strong interest of Europeans in particular, until recently there has been no concerted effort to focus on defining and strengthening Aboriginal cultural tourism. However, over the last 20 years or so, steps have been taken to support authentic Aboriginal cultural products and experiences and to counter decades of appropriation of Aboriginal symbols and arts and crafts by non-Aboriginal Canadians.

Aboriginal exhibits and displays were developed for tourism attractions and museums by well-meaning non-Aboriginals who did not consult with local communities. Souvenir shops were often filled with inexpensive overseas-made replicas of authentic Aboriginal arts and crafts, and some still are. To this day, we see the Canadian Prairie Aboriginal headdress being used as a way of (mis)representing First Nations across Canada.

Small totem poles for sale.
Figure 12.4 Cultural products for sale as souvenirs

As the number of Aboriginal tourism businesses started to increase in the 1980s and 1990s, the federal government initiated discussions on Aboriginal tourism. The outcome was the formation of national organizations that provided a coordinated industry voice for operators: Aboriginal Tourism Team Canada (ATTC), Aboriginal Tourism Canada, and Aboriginal Tourism Marketing Circle (ATMC), and others. These groups started the trend of defining Aboriginal cultural tourism standards and promoting the establishment of regional, provincial, and territorial organizations to develop and market more successful businesses. Today, these functions are performed by the Aboriginal Tourism Association of Canada (ATAC).

Spotlight On: Aboriginal Tourism Association of Canada

Aboriginal Tourism Association of Canada (ATAC) is a consortium of over 20 Aboriginal tourism industry organizations and government representatives from across Canada. It was formed to create a unified voice and was formalized in 2014 (building from the ATMC established in 2009). ATAC continues to evolve to support marketing, product development and training standards, and other initiatives. For more information, visit the Aboriginal Tourism Association of Canada:

Aboriginal Tourism in Canada Today

Despite challenges such as appropriation, thanks to these organizations, tourism is becoming a major economic and cultural driver for Aboriginal communities across Canada. It is estimated that in 2014 “Aboriginal tourism provided over 37,000 jobs in Canada and generated almost $3 billion in gross output into the Canadian economy … up substantially since 2002 where jobs were estimated at 13,000 and gross output was estimated at $2.3 billion” (O’Neil et al., 2014, p. i-xii).

To define this segment of the industry, the Aboriginal Tourism Association of Canada (2013, p. 4) uses these terms:

Aboriginal tourism: describes all tourism businesses that are majority-owned and operated by First Nations, Métis and Inuit. They must also demonstrate a connection and responsibility to the local Aboriginal community and traditional territory where the operation resides.

Aboriginal cultural tourism: meets the Aboriginal tourism criteria and in addition, a significant portion of the experience incorporates Aboriginal culture in a manner that is appropriate, respectful and true to the Aboriginal culture being portrayed. The authenticity is ensured through the active involvement of Aboriginal people in the development and delivery of the experience.

Aboriginal cultural experiences: offer the visitor a cultural experience in a manner that is appropriate, respectful and true to the Aboriginal culture being portrayed.

Take a Closer Look: Aboriginal Tourism Opportunities for Canada

This 2008 document from the Canadian Tourism Commission looks at the growing opportunities for Aboriginal tourism development, and promotion to overseas markets including the UK, Germany, and France. It includes market research and consumer data as well as an examination of ways to partner with the travel services sector. To view the report, visit Aboriginal Tourism Opportunities [PDF]:

Strengthening Aboriginal Tourism in Canada

Figure 12.5 Cover of Aboriginal Cultural Tourism Business Planning Guide

Tourism is of significant interest to growing numbers of Aboriginal communities in Canada. If developed in a thoughtful and sensitive manner, it can have potential positive economic, cultural, and social impacts. Many communities have undertaken tourism development activities to support cultural revival, intercultural awareness, and economic growth. This growth brings jobs and career opportunities for Aboriginal people at all skill levels.

In the Aboriginal Cultural Tourism Business Planning Guide, the following are suggested as the foundational building blocks necessary to run a successful and authentic Aboriginal tourism business:

The guide also highlights the importance of place to the Aboriginal tourism experience. It suggests that guests leave an authentic tourism experience with a memorable collection of feelings, memories, and images that all contribute to a unique sense of place and help guests understand the culture being shared (Kanahele, 1991). In order to highlight this sense of place, operators are encouraged to reflect on and impart aspects of their culture with the following elements of their business (Aboriginal Tourism BC & CTHRC, 2013):

These touch points create a richer, and more authentic, experience for the visitor.

As an Elder once stated, Aboriginal tourism businesses showcase “culture, heritage and traditions,” and “because these belong to the entire community, the community should have some input” (Aboriginal Tourism BC & CTHRC, 2013, p. 19). For this reason, the guide suggests operators consider the extent to which:

Take a Closer Look: Aboriginal Cultural Tourism Checklist (Canada) and Maori Tourism Checklist (New Zealand)

Review the Aboriginal Cultural Tourism Business Planning Guide at Aboriginal Cultural Tourism Business Planning Guide [PDF]: The Maori tourism organization in New Zealand has developed a similar guide for indigenous tourism development. To review their “tourism road map,” visit Tourism Road Map:

By following these guidelines, Aboriginal tourism businesses can honour the principles outlined in the Larrakia Declaration and other similar documents.

Figure 12.6 A group of visitors listen to an Aboriginal guide at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Alberta

Examples of Canadian Aboriginal Tourism Development

Over the past decades, hundreds of Aboriginal-focused tourism experiences have developed in Canada. Examples include:

Take a Closer Look: Aboriginal Cultural Experiences: National Guidelines

A self-assessment and reference tool,  Aboriginal Cultural Experiences: National Guidelines, was developed to support the creation and expansion of Aboriginal cultural tourism in Canada. These guidelines were created through national consultation with the Aboriginal Tourism Marketing Circle partners and industry, with support from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. The Aboriginal Tourism Association of Canada continues to provide guidance for Aboriginal communities and entrepreneurs, and the non-Aboriginal tourism industry, on standards. To read the guidelines, visit Aboriginal Cultural Experiences: National Guidelines[PDF] :

For an in-depth exploration of a Canadian Aboriginal tourism destination, see the case study at the end of this chapter on the Trails of 1885 project. This and other initiatives have been successful across the country, including some in British Columbia, which has begun to emerge as a premier destination for Aboriginal experiences.

Aboriginal Tourism in BC

The Aboriginal Tourism Association of BC (AtBC) was founded in 1996, spurred by a research project that detailed the changing motivations of visitors to BC. It identified that specific target markets were particularly motivated to visit BC to experience local or regional Aboriginal culture. Using this information, AtBC created a work plan, established funding partnerships with governments, developed a membership model, and initiated a range of strategies and tactics outlined in two five-year plans.

Spotlight On: Aboriginal Tourism BC

BC’s tourism industry is fortunate to have an active organization like Aboriginal Tourism BC (AtBC) which, while young, has gained an international reputation for effectiveness. Its role is to encourage the professional development of Aboriginal cultural experiences in the province and to then market those businesses to the world. For more information, visit Aboriginal Tourism BC:

Since its inception, AtBC has grown to represent over 150 diverse stakeholder businesses, including campgrounds, art galleries and gift shops, hotels, eco-lodges and resorts, Aboriginal restaurants and catering services, cultural heritage sites and interpretive centres, kayak and canoe tours, adventure tourism operations, and guided hikes through heritage sites (Aboriginal Tourism BC, 2012). It has also proven adept at online promotion and social media. As well, it has become world renowned for its strategic approach to Aboriginal tourism development, which we examine in the next section.

Take a Closer Look: Aboriginal Tourism Promotion in BC (#AboriginalBC)

Visit Aboriginal Tourism Promotion in BC ( to see a promotional video that introduces BC Aboriginal culture to viewers around the world using the hashtag #AboriginalBC.

A Strategic Approach to Growth

In 2012, AtBC released its five-year strategic plan, which identified targets for Aboriginal cultural tourism industry success. Its goals by 2017 included (Aboriginal Tourism BC, 2012):

To achieve these targets, the plan identified key strategies, reviewed and adjusted annually, such as (Aboriginal Tourism BC, 2013):

Following good overall tourism planning principles, AtBC ensured its plan aligned with Destination BC’s five-year tourism strategy, Gaining the Edge, as well as Canada’s federal tourism strategy. As part of this alignment, recent efforts have placed renewed emphasis on the need for market readiness.

Push for Market Readiness

As we’ve learned elsewhere in this textbook, today’s travellers are more complex than in the past and have higher expectations. Potential guests are web-savvy and have the world at their fingertips. For this reason, it’s important that Aboriginal operators ensure they are sufficiently ready to run as a tourism business.

There are three categories of readiness, each with a set of criteria that must be met (Aboriginal Tourism Association of Canada, 2013):

By educating cultural tourism businesses about these standards, and then creating incentives for marketing opportunities, AtBC helps to raise the bar for BC Aboriginal cultural tourism experiences. Its goal is to push as many operators toward market readiness (the second category) as possible so that they may eventually become export ready alongside other BC tourism experiences.

Authenticity and Quality Assurance

Figure 12.7 The Authentic Indigenous logo, helping consumers choose authentic arts and crafts

Another one of the five-year strategic initiatives is the program to encourage visitors to purchase authentic arts and crafts, not unauthorized knock-offs. The Authentic Indigenous Artisan Program protects Aboriginal artists by identifying three tiers of artwork for active promotion (Authentic Indigenous, 2015):

Take a Closer Look: Authentic Indigenous

This website explains the authenticity program and provides detailed profiles of artists, samples of indigenous art products, and lists of indigenous sellers. Peruse beadwork, button blankets, carvings, weaving, ceramics, digital art, and textiles, and learn about the craftspeople who create them. Find out where you can purchase authentic products and explore the creation process including traditional methods of harvesting materials by visiting the Authentic Indigenous website:


Figure 12.8 Cover to the FirstHost program workbook

Another key component of the Aboriginal tourism experience is the host. In BC, the FirstHost program supports the development of Aboriginal hosts who are well trained, know what guests are looking for, and who can help provide an authentic cultural experience. This is a one-day tourism workshop offered through the Native Education College and delivered throughout the province and Canada.

FirstHost was inspired by Hawaiian tourism pioneer, Dr. George Kanahele (1913-2000), who saw the impact tourism was having on indigenous culture and set out to educate the industry that “the relationship between place, host and guest must be one of equality” (Native Education College, 2014, p. 28). Participants learn about hospitality service delivery and the special importance of the host, guest, and place relationship. The program is recognized by Aboriginal Tourism BC, WorldHost, and is funded by the Coastal Corridor Consortium of educators from multiple postsecondary institutions and cultural organizations (Native Education College, 2014). This well-received workshop, delivered by Aboriginal trainers, is another reason Aboriginal tourism continues to grow stronger in the province.

Examples of BC Aboriginal Tourism Development

Spotlight On: The Kamloopa PowWow

The Kamloopa PowWow, hosted each year by the Secwepemc Indian Band in Kamloops, draws over 20,000 visitors each year from BC, the rest of North America, and as far away as China, Germany, and Japan. Featuring songs, storytelling, dance, and other traditional cultural components, the event is one of the largest in Western Canada and represents a major tourism draw for the community. For more information, visit the Kamloopa PowWow website:

Aboriginal tourism in BC ranges from arts and cultural attractions to authentic food and beverage experiences to wildlife tours that highlight the spiritual significance of BC’s natural places to Aboriginal people.

Take a Closer Look: Aboriginal Experiences – a Journey

The consumer website for Aboriginal Tourism BC members features things to do, places to see, and a blog that details authentic experiences such as participating in a traditional sweat lodge. For more information, visit the Aboriginal Tourism BC website:

Figure 12.9 Ancient totem and mortuary poles at Ninstints, Haida Gwaii

Examples of BC Aboriginal tourism enterprises include:

Take a Closer Look: UNESCO World Heritage List 

This list, evolving from 1972 World Heritage Convention, identifies outstanding significant sites across the globe, linking the concepts of nature conservation and the preservation of cultural properties. The convention sets out the duties of governments in identifying potential sites and their role in protecting and preserving them. The list features an interactive map and an alphabetical list. To explore the more than 1,000 properties on the list, visit the UNESCO World Heritage List:

While AtBC members are too numerous to detail here, one BC community is often in the spotlight for its significant tourism activity, thanks to its physical and cultural assets and positive leadership. Let’s take a closer look at this example.


The Osoyoos (Nk’Mip) Indian Band (OIB) is part of the Okanagan First Nation located in the Interior of BC. The band is home to about 400 on-reserve members. A main goal of the OIB is to move from dependency to a sustainable economy like that which existed before contact (Centre for First Nations Governance, 2013).

Take a Closer Look: Centre for First Nations Governance Success Stories

The Centre for First Nations Governance is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing self-governance support to First Nations communities across Canada. It helps with planning, governance, the establishment of laws, and nation-rebuilding efforts. Its website features success stories, in video format, that highlight these efforts. For more information, visit the Centre for First Nations Governance Success Stories:

Okanagan First Nations once travelled widely to fish, gather, and hunt. Each year, the first harvests of roots, berries, fish, and game were celebrated during ceremonies honouring the food chiefs who provided for the people. During the winter, people returned to permanent winter villages. The names of many of the settlements in the Okanagan Valley — Osoyoos, Keremeos, Penticton and Kelowna — come from Aboriginal words for these settled areas and attest to the long history of the Syilx people on this land.

Just 40 years ago, the OIB was bankrupt and living off government social assistance. In 1988, it sought to turn the tide on this history and created the Osoyoos Indian Band Development Corporation (OIBDC). Through good leadership and initiative, the band has been able to develop agriculture, eco-tourism, and commercial, industrial, and residential developments on its 32,200 acre reserve lands. It does have the good fortune to be located in one of Canada’s premier agricultural and tourism regions; however, it has also taken a determined and well-crafted effort to become an example of indigenous economic success. The band employs hundreds of people and has annual revenues of around $26 million (LinkBC, 2012).

Figure 12.10 Friendly staff at Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre

The OIBDC now manages a number of tourism operations, and visitors to this sunny desert region can stay in the 226-room Spirit Ridge Vineyard Resort & Spa, visit the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre, camp in the Nk’Mip Campground & RV Resort (a 326-site operation open year round), and enjoy visiting Nk’Mip Cellars (the first Aboriginal-owned winery in North America). Site preparation is also underway for a $120 million Canyon Desert Resort, a joint venture with Bellstar Hotels and Resorts located adjacent to the 18-hole Nk’Mip Canyon Desert Golf Course. Future vineyard and resort developments are on the drawing board (LinkBC, 2012).

The area attracts about 400,000 visitors per year, and at peak tourist season there is essentially full employment among the more than 470 members of the Osoyoos reserve. In addition to the core businesses, many secondary businesses have formed. For example, the award-winning Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre promotes conservation efforts for desert wildlife and has also helped to create several spinoff businesses, including a landscaping business, a greenhouse for indigenous plants, a website development business, and a community arts and crafts market (LinkBC, 2012).


Examples like Nk’Mip demonstrate that BC is on track to become one of the world’s leading destinations for Aboriginal tourism experiences. Across Canada, First Nations and their partners are using Aboriginal-developed standards to help preserve and strengthen cultures while building economic benefits for their communities. This is directly in line with the global trend toward linking tourism with the need to uphold indigenous rights. When developed in partnership with indigenous communities, Aboriginal tourism can continue to attract visitors, provide quality guest experiences, and honour Aboriginal heritage.

Up to this point, we’ve gained an understanding of multiple sectors of the industry as well as special considerations for professionals in BC. Chapter 13 explores careers and work experience in tourism and hospitality.

Figure 12.11 Sunrise at St. Eugene Mission Resort owned by the Ktunaxa, the Samson Cree, and the Mnjikaning First Nations

Key Terms

  • Aboriginal cultural experiences: experiences that are offered in a manner that is appropriate, respectful, and true to the Aboriginal culture being portrayed
  • Aboriginal cultural tourism: Aboriginal tourism that incorporates Aboriginal culture as a significant portion of the experience in a manner that is appropriate, respectful, and true (see Aboriginal cultural experiences)
  • Aboriginal peoples: the indigenous people (see below) of Canada, recognized in the Canadian Constitution Act as comprising three groups: First Nations, Métis, and Inuit
  • Aboriginal tourism: tourism businesses that are majority owned and operated by First Nations, Métis, and Inuit (known as indigenous tourism outside of Canada)
  • Aboriginal Tourism Association BC (AtBC): the organization responsible for developing and marketing Aboriginal tourism experiences in BC in a strategic way; members are over 51% owned and operated by First Nations, Métis, and Inuit
  • Aboriginal Tourism Association Canada (ATAC): a consortium of over 20 Aboriginal tourism industry organizations and government representatives from across Canada
  • American Indian: a term used to describe First people in the United States, still used today
  • Appropriation: the action of taking something for one’s own use, typically without the owner’s permission
  • Authentic Indigenous Artisan Program: protects Aboriginal artists by identifying three tiers of artwork based on the degree to which Aboriginal people have participated in their creation; a tool to combat cultural appropriation
  • Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People: a 2007 statement that set forth the minimum standards for the survival, dignity, and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the world
  • Eskimo: a term once used by non-Inuit people to describe Inuit people; no longer considered appropriate
  • Export-ready criteria: the highest level of market readiness, with sophisticated travel distribution trade channels, to attract out-of-town visitors and highly reliable service standards, particularly with groups
  • First Nation: one of the three recognized groups of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples (along with Inuit and Métis)
  • FirstHost: an Aboriginal tourism workshop focusing on hospitality service delivery and the special importance of the host, guest, and place relationship
  • Indian (or Native Indian): a legal term in Canada, once used to describe Aboriginal people but now considered inappropriate
  • Indigenous peoples: groups specially protected in international or national legislation as having a set of specific rights based on their historical ties to a particular territory, and their cultural or historical distinctiveness from other populations
  • Indigenous tourism: a synonym for Aboriginal tourism, the more commonly used term in BC (see above)
  • Inuit: one of the three recognized groups of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples (along with First Nation and Métis), from the Arctic region of Canada
  • Larrakia Declaration: a set of principles developed to guide appropriate indigenous tourism development
  • Marae: a communal or sacred centre that serves a religious and social purpose in Polynesian societies
  • Market-ready business: a business that goes beyond visitor readiness to demonstrate strengths in customer service, marketing, pricing and payments policies, response times and reservations systems, and so on
  • Métis: one of the three recognized groups of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples (along with First Nation and Inuit), meaning “to mix”
  • Visitor-ready business: often a start-up or small operation that might qualify for a listing in a tourism directory but is not ready for more complex promotions (like cooperative marketing); may not have a predictable business cycle or offerings


  1. Reread the Larrakia Declaration mentioned earlier in this chapter. Find one statement that resonates with you either for personal reasons or as a future tourism professional. Why do you feel this principle is important?
  2. Why have the terms used to describe Aboriginal people changed over time? Why is it important for tourism professionals to respect these terms?
  3. Who are the local Aboriginal groups in your community? Are these First Nations, Métis, or Inuit? What are their languages called?
  4. Suggest three reasons why Aboriginal tourism is different from product-based subsectors of the industry (e.g., golf tourism, cuisine tourism).
  5. How many jobs did Aboriginal tourism generate in Canada in 2014? What is the goal for Aboriginal tourism jobs in BC for 2017? Why, in your opinion, is this a growth area?
  6. Are there Aboriginal tourism businesses in your area? Try to find at least two (you can use the Aboriginal BC website: ( to locate them). How would you rate their market readiness? Give three reasons for your assessment.
  7. Complete online research to identify four international (non-US or Canada) indigenous tourism experiences/attractions. Create a table to record the following information:
    1. Indigenous group represented
    2. Ownership
    3. Products or services provided
    4. Years of operation
    5. Indigenous hosts
    6. Authenticity of experience
    7. Market readiness (based on website/marketing materials)
    8. Notable features
  8. Compare and contrast the experiences you summarized in question 7. Which businesses do you think are the most successful, and why? Which might be struggling? Which would you like to visit? Why or why not?
  9. What is the name of the program designed to help guests find authentic Aboriginal products? How does it help to combat appropriation? Describe the three tiers of the program, and visit the website to find examples of one product in each tier.

Case Study: Case Study: Tourism and the Red Dzao and Black Hmong in Vietnam

In the mountainous region of northern Vietnam, ethnic minorities including the Red Dzao and Black Hmong once generated income through subsistence farming, timber harvesting, and opium cultivation. As tourism to the region increased, this also became an economic opportunity, one with the potential to benefit many people.

A number of developments, including a community-based tourism project supported by Capilano University and Hanoi Open University, and funded by the Pacific Asia Travel Association, increased tourism revenues coming into the community. The project began in the village of Ta Phin, and after some promising steps forward there, it was replicated in Lao Chai.

Lao Chai used to be just a lunch stop for tourists trekking through the beautiful region. Over a period of many years, training and capacity-building activities were undertaken by local indigenous people with the support of project volunteers. The fascinating culture, the hospitality of the community, and new trekking routes created a more complete tourism destination. Now the town is seen as a suitable place for an overnight stay.

A potential threat to the rights of the ethnic minorities and the village products has been the lack of inclusion and participation in decision making and tourism planning. This was evident during the development of Hoang Lien Son National Park. To protect this regional mountain range, authorities increased the borders of the park, encroaching on traditionally important natural resources for the village. Additional challenges arose because non-indigenous Vietnamese hold the majority of government positions and own the majority of tourism businesses in the region.

Despite these challenges, and with the support of students and faculty from Capilano University and Hanoi Open University, some indigenous people have set up small shops and a restaurant, which attract visitors interested in stopping for lunch. Homestays have been certified, allowing guests to enjoy an overnight experience in the village as part of an indigenous family. As these operations have proved successful, additional families have worked to train and make investments in their properties.

Watch the video at When a Village was Heard – Capilano U / PATA Foundation Tourism Project:

  1. What were some of the challenges to establishing tourism in the community?
  2. Review the Larrakia Declaration mentioned earlier in this chapter. What, in your opinion, are the most important of these principles that need to be understood in order for a project like this to succeed?
  3. Who were the stakeholders brought to the table by the development project?
  4. What changes were implemented? What support was offered to community members?
  5. Whose responsibility is the ongoing success of the project? How might success be measured?
  6. What are the lessons for Aboriginal tourism development in BC? List five strategies used or actions taken in Viet Nam that could be applied here at home.

Case Study: Case Study: Trails of 1885 Bridges Cultures and Builds Tourism

Western Canada in the 1880s was facing a time of rapid change as the buffalo disappeared and the established way of life was rocked to its core. Tensions rose between European settlers and the Métis, whose rights had been eroded. In 1885, the North-West Resistance (formerly known as the North-West Rebellion) concluded with the hanging of resistance leader Louis Riel and eight other Aboriginal leaders (Trails of 1885, 2015).

In the years since, residents of Saskatchewan have protected areas from major interpretive centres to remote meadows and hillsides where solitary historic markers recount stories from an almost mythical past.

In 2006, a small group of tourism developers and historic site managers gathered in Saskatoon to discuss how these locations and their stories could be brought together and enhanced to collectively attract more visitors to the region.

As detailed in Cultural and Heritage Tourism: A Handbook for Community Champions, their project included:

  • Creating an inventory of 1885-related sites and stories
  • Meeting with site stakeholders to gauge interest in the project
  • Acknowledging that First Nations and Métis stories had been previously overlooked
  • Creating the 1885 coalition (Elders, accommodations, tourism organizations, tourism attractions, museums, tour operators)
  • Reaching beyond Saskatchewan (the site of the main historical event) to Alberta and Manitoba sites related to the story of the North-West Resistance
  • Finding funding, striking a steering committee, and finding a project manager
  • Navigating culturally sensitive issues including the language of program delivery
  • Creating visuals and branding (including the Trails of 1885 brand itself)

The project relied on the participation of various stakeholder groups and the leadership of a local champion. As a result of their efforts, an elk-hide proclamation was signed by First Nations, the Métis Nation, and federal and provincial governments.

Numerous other major events were held throughout the year including the first-ever reenactment of the Battle of Poundmaker Cree Nation and other 1885 ceremonies in communities across the region. The added impact of Trails of 1885 resulted in the largest attendance of the annual Métis homecoming festival (Back to Batoche Days).

To support long-term tourism benefits to the region, these activities were reinforced by capital projects such as highway improvements (to the sites), highway and site signage, large maps at various 1885 sites, and multi-million dollar improvements at Batoche. After this multi-year project, a new non-profit corporation, Trails of 1885 Association, was created to extend the work into the future and promote the region as a long-term tourism draw.

According to one of the initiative’s leaders, “the project has certainly met one of its main goals—to increase visitation and visitor satisfaction, while developing First Nations and Métis cultural awareness locally, regionally, provincially, and nationally” (LinkBC, 2012, p. 66).

Visit the site at and answer the following questions:

  1. List two attractions in each of the three provinces that span this project. What do they have in common?
  2. List five stakeholder groups who participated in the development of Trails of 1885. How might their interests differ? How might they align? Name three benefits of having these partners work together.
  3. What kind of tours are available to visitors wanting to learn more about this time in Canada’s history?
  4. Based on the website, where would you say the Trails of 1885 falls on the readiness scale (visitor ready, market ready, export ready)? Why would you classify it in this way?
  5. Go back to the Larrakia Declaration and create a checklist made up of the statements. In what ways did this project adhere to the principles set out in the declaration? Are there any ways the project could have done better?


Aboriginal Tourism Association BC & Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council (CTHRC). (2013). Aboriginal cultural tourism business planning guide. [PDF] Retrieved from

Aboriginal Tourism Association of Canada (as Aboriginal Tourism Marketing Circle). (2013). Aboriginal cultural tourism guide. [PDF] Retrieved from

Aboriginal Tourism BC. (2012). The next phase (2012-2017): A five-year strategy for Aboriginal cultural tourism in BC. [PDF] Retrieved from

Aboriginal Tourism BC. (2013). The next phase (2012-2017): A five-year strategy for Aboriginal cultural tourism in BC: Year one report. [PDF] Retrieved from

Authentic Indigenous. (2015). Authenticity tags. Retrieved from

Centre for First Nations Governance. (2013). Best practices: Osoyoos Indian Band. Retrieved from

Coates, Ken S. (2004). A global history of indigenous peoples: Struggle and survival. New York, NY: Palgrave MacMillan. p12 ISBN 0-333-92150-X.

Kanahele, G. (1991). Critical reflections on cultural values and hotel management in Hawai’i. Project Tourism Keeper of the Culture. Honolulu, HI: The WAIAHA Foundation.

LinkBC, Federal Provincial Territorial Minsters of Culture and Heritage. (2012). Cultural & heritage tourism: A handbook for community champions. [PDF] Retrieved from

Native Education College. (2014).First Host: Offering hospitality skills like nobody else.[PDF] Sample Workbook. Retrieved from

New Zealand Maori Tourism Society. (2012). Maori tourism. Retrieved from

O’Neil, B., Payer, B., Williams, P., Morten, K., Kunin, R., & Gan, L. (2014). National Aboriginal tourism research project 2014. Vancouver, BC: Aboriginal Tourism Marketing Circle.

Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and World Indigenous Tourism Alliance (WINTA). (2014). Indigenous Tourism and human rights in Asia and Pacific Region: Review, analysis & guidelines. Bangkok, Thailand: PATA.

Trails of 1885. (2015). Home page. Retrieved from

United Nations. (2007). UN declaration on the rights of indigenous people. [PDF]

Wilson, K. & Henderson, J. (2014, March 3). First Peoples: A guide for newcomers. [PDF] Vancouver: City of Vancouver. Retrieved from

World Indigenous Tourism Alliance. (2012). Larrakia declaration on indigenous tourism. [PDF]

WWF International Arctic Programme. (n.d.). Code of conduct for Arctic tourists. [PDF] Retrieved from


Figure 12.1 Haida Bird by Doug is used under a CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

Figure 12.2 We Don’t Climb by Steel Wool is used under a CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

Figure 12.3 First Nations performers during the opening ceremony by Province of BC is used under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.

Figure 12.4 Animal and ‘native’ cultural products by Toban B is used under a CC-BY-NC 2.0 license.

Figure 12.5 Cover of the Aboriginal Cultural Tourism Business Planning Guide by LinkBC is used under a CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

Figure 12.6 head smashed in buffalo jump by Roland Tanglao is used under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

Figure 12.7 Authentic Indigenous Logo by LinkBC is used under a CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

Figure 12.8 FirstHost Cover by LinkBC is used under a CC-BY-NC 2.0 license.

Figure 12.9 killer whale in the foreground by Neil Banas is used under a CC-BY-NC 2.0 license.

Figure 12.10 Osooyos by LinkBC is used under a CC-BY-NC 2.0 license.

Figure 12.11 Cranbrook by Province of British Columbia is used under a CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.


Chapter 13. Careers and Work Experience

Micki McCartney and Lynda Robinson

Learning Objectives

  • Identify and define the steps in career planning
  • Identify aspects of labour market information
  • Compare and describe types of work learning experiences
  • Describe tools and strategies to successfully complete work experience
  • Explore career management strategies for workplace success
  • Review industry career profiles and professions for common themes


This chapter is divided into three parts. First, we’ll learn the essential steps of career planning. Then we’ll take a look at the types of work experience you can engage in while still at school. Finally, we’ll explore how you can integrate your planning with your education and experiences, and we’ll hear from graduates who have been successful in their career choices.

Figure 13.1 Students from Vancouver Island University win recognition and gain experience at the LinkBC Student Case Competition

Let’s start with a review of the essential steps in the career planning process.

Career Planning

Shepard and Mani define career planning “as an ongoing process through which an individual sets career goals and identifies the means to achieve them” (2013, p. 14). It is through career planning that a person evaluates abilities and interests, assesses values and personality, considers alternative career opportunities, establishes career goals, and plans practical developmental activities.

Career planning requires individuals to understand themselves and their values, interests, and skills. It is also an ongoing process, one that must be repeated with changes in employment and life circumstances. As you gain more experience and knowledge, the process will begin anew.

This section reviews the five essential steps of career planning, which are based on our research and input from industry experts:

  1. Conduct a self-assessment
  2. Research the labour market
  3. Create your career search toolkit
  4. Put your career campaign into action
  5. Engage in networking

Let’s start at step one.

Step One: Conduct a Self-Assessment

Self knowledge is the key to choosing a career. It can be overwhelming to begin the process of self-assessment. However, if done well at the start, the likelihood of securing work that has meaning, purpose, and fulfillment is far greater. Understanding your preferences, knowing your strengths, and honestly facing the areas you need to develop are the first steps for effective self-assessment.

Take a Closer Look: Tourism Careers from the CTHRC

The Canadian Tourism HR Council (CTHRC) has a website that can help you explore career options. Start with its “tourism career quiz” to see where you might find a fit, and browse the list of job boards and other resources. Check out these Tourism Career Resources:

Rosenberg McKay (2014) identifies self-assessment as “the process of gathering information about you in order to make a knowledgeable career decision” and adds that “a self-assessment should examine values, interests, personality, and skills” (¶ 1). Your values should guide your decision making to ensure a good fit for both you and your employer.

Take a Closer Look: Explore Careers by Skills and Knowledge

The Government of Canada Job Bank website allows you to peruse occupations and explore the skills and knowledge required to work in these fields. Discover what jobs might be a good match for you at the Government of Canada Job Bank:

Many people find that over the course of their post-secondary program they naturally become more self-aware. It’s recommended, however, that you take time to do the following in order to facilitate your understanding:

1. Think back to when you were a child. What hopes and dreams did you have for yourself? How have these changed?

2. Develop a profile of your personality type. One helpful way of classifying personalities was developed by Myers and Briggs. You can learn more about their personality types by visiting their foundation at Myers and Briggs Personality Types:

3. Do an internet search for terms like personal value statement and find examples that inspire you. These may include key words such as loyalty, accountability, determination, and passion. Now create your own unique statement that reflects where you are today.

4. Gain a better understanding of yourself by learning how others see you. Ask a close friend, family member, or trusted academic contact to write down 10 key words that describe you. Notice where these are different or similar to the words you chose for your value statement.

5. Go back to the introductory chapter of this textbook and make note of the five key sectors of the tourism industry. With a highlighter or similar tool, choose the two sectors that are the most appealing to you. Why are these of interest? What life experiences or work experience do you have that apply to these sectors? How do they align with your personality type and values?

With this foundation in place, you’re ready to face employment reality by gaining a greater understanding of the labour market.

Step Two: Research the Labour Market

Whether you are career planning for the very first time or you are trying to change careers, gathering labour market information is necessary to ensure your education and training are relevant. Keep in mind that a career is distinct from a job. A job can be a part-time or short-term position, whereas a career is work you plan to explore for the length of your professional life, with each employment opportunity building on the last.

Learning as much as you can about careers within the tourism and hospitality industry will allow you to make good decisions about your future. Some of the activities you can do to complete your research include visiting job boards to identify demand and following companies and sectors in the media. Let’s look at these concepts in more detail.

Visit Tourism and Hospitality Job Boards to Identify Demand

It’s not enough for you to want to work in a certain field — you have to know what types of jobs are currently being offered. By visiting job boards you can get a sense of which geographic areas have more opportunities, how much different jobs pay, and what kind of experience is required.

Websites you can use for this search include:

Make note of any interesting positions, and pay attention to gaps. Compare this to your self-assessment. Where are the opportunities lining up? What changes might you have to make to advance your career? For example, if you’d like to stay in the same city, but see no jobs posted that match your needs, it might be time to look elsewhere.

Follow Companies and Sectors in the Media

Make it a point to follow companies and sectors of interest to you in the media. You can do this by using a search engine to set up notifications (e.g., Google Alerts) about sectors (e.g., restaurants, ski resorts), and following companies on social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram). You can also monitor news from industry associations to read their commentary on issues and trends affecting specific sectors of the industry and/or geographic regions. This will help you identify growth patterns, understand job market trends, and gain an edge should you have the opportunity to interview.

With this information in hand, you’ll be ready to create a plan.

Spotlight On: The go2HR Job Board

The job board hosted by go2HR is your one-stop shop for tourism and hospitality jobs and careers in BC. Search by geographic region, keyword, and more. For more information, visit the go2HR Job Board:

Step Three: Create Your Career Search Toolkit

You have completed your initial research, and now you need to get down to business! This step involves getting ready to approach employers about specific opportunities.

Identify, and be prepared to provide evidence of, the attributes and skills you possess that would be attractive to an employer. It can be helpful to review these in three categories:

  1. Personal attributes: describe what you are like as a person/employee (e.g., your values, personality type, personal qualities, and characteristics)
  2. Technical skills: skills and knowledge required to perform specific work (e.g., how to use restaurant Point-of-Sale systems, hotel reservations systems, or other computer software)
  3. Transferable skills: skills required to perform a variety of tasks that can be transferred from one type of job to another (e.g., the ability to read a balance sheet and prepare a budget)

Use the list of your skills and attributes when you describe yourself in your documents.

A stylized set of resumes and business cards with a green border.
Figure 13.2 Consider a branded set of tools like resumes and business cards to help you stand out from the crowd.

A standard set of job search documents includes:

  1. Cover letter: a long-form document of one page that tells a story, illustrating how your skills and experience make you an ideal candidate for the job.
  2. Resume (sometimes called a curriculum vitae or CV): a point-form document, typically two pages, that includes your career objective, relevant experience, education, skills, and interests.
  3. Reference list: identifies three or four professional contacts who have worked with you, and can vouch for the quality of your work.

Be sure to update these documents each time you apply for a position and customize them to the opportunity at hand.

You may also want to consider using social media tools and resources to promote yourself. This may include creating a LinkedIn profile, making a professional (rather than personal) Facebook page, and using Twitter and Instagram to communicate with companies. Some job seekers also use a professional e-portfolio to demonstrate their skills, knowledge, and abilities. Showcasing your experiences with an e-portfolio is one way to stand out from other applicants (Lorenzo & Ittleson, 2005).

Take a Closer Look: E-portfolio Tools

This list, updated regularly, was created by EPAC, the Electronic Portfolio Action & Communication listserv. It provides access to a range of tools for creating e-portfolios with links to key websites. Before using a specific tool, be sure to check with an instructor to see whether your program has recommended e-portfolio platforms at its disposal. To view the list, visit E-portfolio Tools:

Step Four: Put Your Career Campaign into Action

Now it’s time to make a list of companies to target, and to approach them.

We’ve already addressed how you can find opportunities by scanning postings on websites like the go2HR job board. This is a great start, but most work opportunities are found in the hidden job market, which consists of jobs that are not advertised or made public in traditional ways. Many individuals find work in BC’s tourism and hospitality industry by being referred, getting hired by someone they already know, or starting at an entry-level position and waiting for future growth opportunities.

If you don’t have any connections in tourism and hospitality, make them! List all the organizations you’re interested in working for. Now find some key contacts to meet with. These might be:

Approach your potential contact to set up an informational interview. This is a session where you make contact with individuals who can use their first-hand experience to educate you about a particular role or company.

Write a short script that will help you remain focused and appear professional as you embark on your first call or send an initial email. Here’s a sample:

I have five years’ experience working in the tourism and/or hospitality field, mainly holding front-end positions. I have increased return visitor numbers and received continuous feedback about my outstanding customer service focus. I am wondering if you have 10 minutes to speak with me.

Your script will change depending on who you are targeting. Prepare a list of questions you want to ask. Remember, at this stage, you are not asking for a job; you’re asking for advice and gathering information. Don’t ask obvious questions about information already available on the company’s website or in its print material. Some questions might include:

The conversation should be professional but informal in nature, and many of your questions will be answered in the natural flow of the conversation. Take notes as you move through the interview, and take a minute after the interview to fill in details you may have missed while you were there.

After the session, always send a thank-you note. Thank the person for his or her time, and add something specific you learned in the interview that you believe will be helpful as you navigate your career. Sending an email thank-you is fine, but  sending a written card will help you stand out.

If you’re given the name of someone else to contact, or you are asked to provide further information, be sure to follow through. This is your opportunity to make a good impression on your contact, and the organization.

Step Five: Engage in Networking

Developing your professional network as an emerging professional in tourism and hospitality is essential. Just as you need to continue to learn and develop your skill sets, you need to develop and nurture your network; it’s an investment in your future. Some ways to do this include:

Remember that networking is equally about who you know and who knows you; it works both ways. Be generous with your contacts, information, and resources. As a new professional, you may not have a developed network, but you can offer your great attitude and valuable ideas, and you will soon gain a reputation as someone who contributes to the field.

A crowd of professionally dressed students.
Figure 13.3 Students eagerly await the start of a networking event

Now that you have a sense of the steps needed to plan your tourism or hospitality career, let’s have a look at an important tool: work experience, which you can gain while still at school to propel you to your ideal career much faster.

Work Experience

Experiential learning is “based on students being directly involved in a learning experience rather than being recipients of ready-made content in the form of lectures” (ContactPoint, 2014a). Experiential learning is:

In this way, knowledge is created as the learner moves through the experience.

Through your educational program, you may be able to participate in a variety of different learning experiences in tourism and hospitality. Students who participate in a learning experience outside of the classroom are more likely to enter the field with both academic and practical workplace skills and knowledge, and have more opportunities for career advancement.

Let’s have a look at some of the common types of work learning experiences:

Each of these is defined below.

Co-op Education

Co-operative, or co-op education refers to “a structured program that integrates work experience in a student’s field along with academic studies by alternating in-class learning with periods of actual work” (ContactPoint, 2014b, ¶ 1). The term reflects the co-operative relationship between students, schools, and employers.


An internship is a temporary on-the-job experience that is “typically offered to students or inexperienced workers” (ContactPoint, 2014c, ¶ 1). It is generally project-oriented, and supervised.

The intern should have specific learning goals against which he or she can apply experience about a particular industry or field of work. The term may be paid or unpaid, and may lead to permanent career opportunities with the organization (ContactPoint, 2014b).


A practicum is “applied learning that provides students with practical experience and interaction with professionals from industry and the community outside of school” (ConnectEd, 2011, p.3). The goal is to support career readiness and help enhance:

The experience may be paid or unpaid.

Service Learning

Service learning is defined as a course-based, credit-bearing educational experience in which students:


Volunteering involves performing a service without pay in order to obtain work experience, learn new skills, meet people, contribute to community, and contribute to a cause that’s important to the volunteer (for example, helping animals, supporting elderly people, working for an environmental cause) (Pickerell, 2014).

Benefits of Work Experience Programs

Students who have completed a formal work experience component benefit from a supportive partnership between the educational institution, the employer, and themselves. This partnership encourages community stakeholder investment, student learning opportunities, professional networks, as well as opportunities for employers to participate as co-educators.

Some institutions may work with an experiential education coordinator to ensure a particular position meets the school’s criteria. Depending on your program, remuneration for work can be by the hour, by salary, by a stipend, as in-kind contributions (experiences or services from the business), or as a volunteer assignment. The educational institution may monitor your placement and ask you to complete an assignment where you reflect on the work experience. Some programs may have an evaluation component and a supervisor who supports the student’s learning. Students are also evaluated by the employer, and they will have a supervisor whom they report to directly.

Most often, for students to participate in a work experience program, they are required to maintain a certain grade point average (GPA) set by the school. Often students are also asked to establish learning goals prior to starting their work experience.

If your program doesn’t offer a formal work experience program such as a co-op, internship, or practicum, you can still gain valuable hands-on learning through part-time work and volunteer opportunities. Because tourism is the number-one employer of youth in BC, you can find a part-time job to develop your skills and gain an entry-level opportunity to join the industry.

Whatever experience you engage in, be it formal, or informal, it’s important to:

These three keys come directly from BC tourism and hospitality employers (LinkBC, 2014), and are explored in the next section.

Integrating Planning with Education and Experience

The final career planning element we’ll explore in this chapter involves integrating your education and work experience. By applying classroom learning to the field, and then bringing lessons from your workplace back to the classroom, you can see key concepts in action.

Research Organizational Culture and Social Norms

Each organization has its own culture and social norms. Organizational culture refers to “the customs, rituals, and values shared by the members of an organization that have to be accepted by new members” (Collins English Dictionary, 2012), and  is expressed through its mission statement, vision, beliefs, language systems, and processes. Social norms refer to the way individuals in the organization interact, communicate, and generally behave with each other.

Figure 13.4 Meet with, and talk to, as many prospective employers as you can. Here, students are talking to a representative from West Coast Sightseeing.

You will want to understand the culture of an organization before applying for a job there to ensure your values are congruent. Find out what’s important to the organization by researching the business. How does it present its public face?

Asking questions of a potential employer about the organization’s culture will help you assess whether it is a good fit for you. You can do this by asking employees in the organization during the informational interview; or alternatively, in a formal job interview.

Performance on the Job

This is your time to shine — no matter what role you’ve been assigned. In addition to respecting and working within a company’s culture, once you start your position, it’s time for you to show initiative (Iannarino, n.d.). Demonstrate an interest in learning and contributing to the organization’s goals and objectives and you will stand out from other employees.

Act without waiting to be told what to do and persistently follow through on work responsibilities, regardless of the obstacles. Think about ways to improve operations, and come up with new ideas, while presenting these in a way that shows you respect management’s expertise. It’s up to you to signal to your employer that you’re someone who can be counted on and you have leadership potential. Some ways of showing initiative include:

Often, you’ll be able to take advantage of project work at school to accomplish some of the above.

Practise Conflict Management and Resolution

The majority of tourism and hospitality employers stress that conflict management is an essential skill in this customer-service driven industry (LinkBC, 2014). It’s up to you to practise these skills at your workplace.

In most conflicts, the ultimate goal must be to find a resolution. Avoiding or ignoring conflict is not an effective strategy. While resolving conflict can be uncomfortable, unresolved conflict actually makes the situation worse. Generally, conflicts have more than one cause. How you choose to resolve conflicts will ultimately demonstrate your ability to be professional and move upward in your career.

Consider the following three steps to resolving conflicts both at work and in the classroom.


If at all possible, try not to take the situation or comments personally. Do not make assumptions about people’s motivations. Jumping to conclusions adds to the conflict and creates more tension and issues to work though.

Consider that if there is a conflict, you might not have fully understood the issue or your part in it. While you may not like the style or approach of the person you’re interacting with, set the goal of listening with acceptance with the intent to resolve the conflict. Convey that you are listening respectfully through your body language and tone of voice, and don’t interrupt. If there are several people involved, let everyone have a chance to speak.

Reflect and Summarize

If you need to, silently count to 10 in your head to give yourself the time to respond appropriately. Acknowledge your commitment to resolving the conflict, and clarify how the other person is feeling about it. When people feel listened to, they are often willing to take the first step toward trust, which then creates willingness to work through the issue. Summarizing what the other person has said allows you to ensure that you’ve fully captured his or her position.

Focus on appreciating what the other person is saying and thinking to understand the source of conflict. Ask what the other person believes would resolve the conflict. Focus the conversation on mutually resolving the issue.


Allow each person the opportunity to explore solutions equally. Take a break from the process if you need to, and come back to the conflict when you feel refreshed. Often the solution is through compromise, because no one is all wrong or all right in any given situation. Each time you’re given the chance to respond, do your best to keep language neutral.

By maturely moving through the process of listening, reflecting, summarizing, and responding (and sometimes going back to the start again), you’ll not only demonstrate your workplace potential, but gain valuable skills for your personal life.

While adapting to organizational culture, demonstrating strong on-the-job performance, and practising conflict resolution are important, there are many skills to be learned in the workplace. Others include the ability to apply critical thinking, acting as a global citizen, and working as part of a team. With this in mind, let’s have a look at success stories in our industry — graduates who possess these skills and attributes, and have used them to propel their careers forward.

Tourism and Hospitality Success Stories

Just a few years ago the professionals highlighted in this section were students in the classroom. Here, they tell us first-hand what you need to know in order to grow in BC’s tourism and hospitality industry. These success stories span the following sectors:

As you read their stories, you’ll see that many of the themes explored in this chapter are echoed in their advice. Please note that these profiles were current as of spring 2015 – some of these grads may already be on to the next big thing in their careers!


Brock Martin, Account Manager

Figure 13.5 Brock Martin

Brock manages accounts for Canada Online Reservations Inc. He graduated with a bachelor of hospitality management at Vancouver Community College in 2010. Brock says:

I oversee more than 300 accommodations on Vancouver Island and am their point of contact for day-to-day support and for assisting them in maximizing their listing’s potential with When I moved to Vancouver in 2004, I started my first hotel job at the Westin Bayshore as a banquet server. I still remember my first day; we had to serve a dinner for over 1,200 people, and I remember that despite how crazy it was I knew this was the industry for me!

From there, I moved to the Pacific Palisades Hotel in banquets, and then I was given an opportunity to move to the front desk. I remember thinking at first that I didn’t belong at the front desk as I had always just done food and beverage. I did not think I would fit the position. Well, I was wrong! I  immediately knew I loved the interactions with the guests.

I progressed with my career, moving from a front desk agent to an assistant front office manager, where I stayed until the hotel unfortunately closed its doors in 2010. Following the Palisades, I held various front office management positions with Coast Hotels and Delta Hotels in Vancouver, Nanaimo, and Whistler. In 2013, I was presented with an opportunity to join as an account manager, where I am presently working.

Taking courses related to hospitality management and tourism will really assist in developing your career. Once in a workplace setting, continued education is key. Look for opportunities for cross training and job shadowing, and ask Human Resources about internal training programs to further your understanding.

Students entering this industry need to have a passion for guest services and for helping people. They need to be able to think quickly and be a good problem solver. This is a fast-paced, ever-evolving industry and doesn’t fit someone who likes routine. No two days are ever the same, and that is what I love! Remain flexible and do not be afraid to try new things. Have an open mind and challenge yourself to think outside of the box.

Specific things students can do to get ahead include networking, further training, and volunteering. Remember, the industry is very large, yet small at the same time. Take opportunities to volunteer as these are great networking opportunities as well. I couldn’t picture myself in any other industry. It is challenging, yet rewarding, and best of all, it is a lot of fun!

Katie Clarke, Marketing Coordinator

Figure 13.6 Katie Clarke

Katie works at the Parkside Hotel & Spa in Victoria, BC. She graduated with a diploma in hospitality management from Vancouver Island University in 2011. Katie says:

My initial hotel job was with the Fairmont Empress housekeeping department during my first co-op work term, a temporary two-month position after which I returned for my second year of schooling. After graduating from Vancouver Island University, I completed my last co-op semester by working at the Queen Victoria Hotel and Suites as a guest services agent. My employment continued there after my co-op term was complete, and lasted until the hotel was sold in October 2012. I left with a wealth of knowledge in guest services.

I began working at the Parkside Hotel & Spa at the time it was purchased by a group of Vancouver Island local investors. I started in reservations, which was a new department in the early stages of development, and my skills and qualifications played a large role in assisting with the department’s foundations. I worked as a reservations agent for seven months before I was promoted to the position of rooms division coordinator. In this position, I assisted in supervising the department, as well as taking on some marketing responsibilities such as keeping the hotel website up-to-date, social media, print materials, and much, much more. The role became a jack-of-all-trades position and was a great experience! In fact, I used what I learned in that role to obtain my current position of marketing coordinator.

My advice for students is that any related education will always help get your foot in the door of a hotel. All applicable work experience, skills, and knowledge can also be an advantage. If you are a hard worker, a team player, and willing to help out when other departments need it, you will be successful in any job you do.

Students should understand that the hospitality field can be a career. Some people view a job in the hospitality industry as temporary or seasonal employment, but it can be a career with many exciting opportunities if you stick with it. The great thing about working in a hotel is that there are so many different departments to explore. The options are endless.

Networking can provide an advantage in this industry. If you contact your tourism bureau, it can connect you to organizations to help you further your industry network. Creating great workplace relationships also fosters getting ahead in any industry. Be sure to keep up with new training and volunteering, as that can be a great advantage, and most workplaces encourage it!

Though every job will come with its tough days, push past them as there are so many better days ahead! Work hard and it will pay off!

Recreation and Entertainment

Ana Rowinska, Project Coordinator

Figure 13.7 Ana Rowinska

Ana works for MCI Group Canada. She has multiple credentials including a hospitality restaurant management diploma from Douglas College (2005), an Event Marketing Association certificate from BCIT (2008), and a bachelor of tourism management from Capilano University (2013). Ana says:

My love for travel and hospitality were key reasons I took the hospitality restaurant management diploma program at Douglas College. After receiving my diploma, I decided to focus on event marketing and enrolled at BCIT for further training.

Students interested in getting into events and or event marketing need to be able to multi-task, be organized, and have a hard work ethic. Both education and experience are important to work as an event coordinator. You need to know the ins and outs of the industry by working in events, and you also need to understand the back-end strategies of how to implement, organize, and plan events.

The events industry is not your typical nine-to-five job. Long workdays are common, and you can expect to sometimes work 16 or more hours in one day to get the job done. Events can happen any day of the week, at any time. Commitment and the ability to be flexible is key as you are always the first one on scene and the last one to leave. You need to have patience, be organized, and be able to deal with stress.

Many students expect to be hired at at a high level right after graduation, but in truth, most will be entering the workforce in their respective fields in an entry-level position. You’ll need to be prepared to work toward gaining experience with your company before you can move into a supervisor or manager position. My advice is to work hard, learn, and ask questions, and you will succeed.

Volunteering or working part time with events is key as you will not only gain valuable industry experience, you will also be networking with your future peers. Experience is invaluable in our sector, so the more events you work or volunteer in, the more opportunities you will have to expand your network and meet key stakeholders in the event industry.

To be successful, you need to be organized, have excellent communication skills, and be able to handle stress and pressure. Don’t get discouraged if things don’t happen exactly like you planned; life throws you curve balls, and it’s how you deal with those curve balls that allows you to succeed in our industry.

Throughout my career, I have needed to make decisions on what was next for me. You never know which job may lead you to where, so treat each job as a stepping stone to move ahead in your career.

Christine McCann, Senior Conference Services Manager

Figure 13.8 Christine McCann

Christine is in senior management at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. She graduated from the Douglas College program in hotel and restaurant management in 2006. Christine says:

I started at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler as a SWEP (student work experience) student in the banquet department. From there, I became very interested in the organization and execution of events, weddings, and conferences. During my time as a banquet server, I was able to cross train with conference services, allowing me to gain insights into the skills and knowledge required to be a successful member of the that team. When a position opened up for a conference services coordinator, I was overjoyed to receive a role as part of this fantastic team! Seven years have passed, and I am now in the position of senior conference services manager, taking care of many large groups throughout the year.

Event and conference planning is a very interesting blend of roles: being on the floor with clients and groups but also completing many administrative tasks and paperwork to ensure plans are effectively communicated. A positive attitude, passion for creating outstanding events, and an eye for detail are three key qualities needed. Members of my team have moved here from many other departments, including banquets, front office, sales, and food and beverage; however, having a base of operations experience is the normal pathway to a position in conference services.

Being successful in a conference services role takes passion and an understanding and appreciation for the guest experience. We are ambassadors for our brand to our guests — 100 to 1,000 guests at a time — and it is important that we ensure each one feels a special connection to our venue and location.

A positive attitude, willingness to learn and passion for whatever role you choose will always help you on the road to success.

Volunteering is a fantastic way to try out new roles and meet great contacts. Hands-on experience can be invaluable in the future. Continuing to seek knowledge, through training, education, industry events — whatever method is interesting for you — will also be beneficial.

Love what you do, work hard, and listen!

David Woolridge, Entrepreneur and Small Business Owner

David is the owner and founder of Ridge Wilderness Adventures Ltd. He graduated from the outdoor recreation management program at Capilano University in 2002. David says:

I love people and I love being outside, so I searched for positions that would fill that need. I have worked at canoe rental companies, guiding outfits, first-aid schools, retail shops, construction, and anything else that I could get my hands on.

I recommend students get into the field by one of two means: enter a specific program like the one at Capilano University, or contact a company that does the work they would like to do and apply. If applying directly doesn’t work, ask the company what it is looking for in a person to be employable.

This work is for those who don’t like to have a fixed routine and who thrive on problem solving and like to do different things all the time. If you prefer a set schedule and set pay, it is probably not for you.

It’s an amazing job where we get to work at what we love. To succeed in this line of work, attitude and availability trump aptitude. If you would like to have a lucrative career in the outdoors, you need to possess an outgoing, friendly, hardworking attitude. This style of work is not nine-to-five; in fact, it’s the opposite of that. Your ability to work when the work is there is key to success. Obviously, you need to have the ability to do the work, but 9 times out of 10, if that’s all you have you will not succeed.

This industry is all about the people that you know. Go to every event and course you can to meet people and get known. Most places will give you the training; you need to do the work if your attitude is right, so sort out what you need before you start.

If you love the outdoors, love people, and want to have fun for work, this is what you should do.

Travel Services

Cleopatra Corbett, Long-Range Planner

Figure 13.9 Cleopatra Corbett

Cleopatra works as a planner for the City of Vernon. She holds a bachelor of tourism management from Vancouver Island University (2004) and completed the urban design certificate at Simon Fraser University in 2012. Cleopatra says:

My first experience in community planning came during my third-year co-op work term as a planning assistant with the District of Ucluelet. I instantly fell in love with the profession: working with local residents, businesses, non-profits, and elected officials to realize a desired future for the community. Upon graduation, I continued to work in Ucluelet, followed by Tofino, Golden, and now Vernon, all in British Columbia.

In my field the desired skill set includes planning, communication, collaboration, facilitation, public speaking, and report writing. For knowledge, you need planning history and theory, community development, environmental stewardship, marketing, and statistical and research methods. As for education, you want to study planning, geography, urban design, tourism, recreation, history, and law.

Community planning is incredibly challenging and rewarding work. Put simply, your work can have a tremendous impact on the environment and the quality of life for residents in your community. You help the community dream about a desired future and then develop policy to make it happen.

My advice would be to have mentors you respect and admire, and to meet with them regularly to ask questions and look for advice. Always do your best, work hard with integrity, be kind, tell the truth, and do what you love.

Get experience before graduating through volunteer work, internships, and/or co-op work terms. Also, try to apply course projects in university to real-world projects for businesses, non-profits, or governments in order to gain meaningful applied experience. Interview people who are in positions that interest you; ask questions and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

If you are willing to move, you can get any type of job you desire. Being mobile enhances your opportunities. Practise life-long learning and strive for a healthy work-life balance. Follow your bliss and make the world a better place.

Marie-Catherine Lapointe, Travel Designer Team Lead

Figure 13.10 Marie-Catherine Lapointe

Marie-Catherine is a travel designer with Discover Holidays Inc. She graduated from Capilano University with a diploma of tourism management in 2012. Marie-Catherine says:

When I graduated, I knew that I wanted to work in travel services as a central part of the industry with touch points in every other sector, so when a posting to be a travel designer for a receptive tour operator came up, I jumped at the chance. I was excited to be working to bring clients from all over the world to Canada, and I took in every opportunity to learn about the many aspects of the company, including product, marketing, and sales.

Students wanting to get into the tour operator sector need to have a tourism education to really understand the intricacies of the sectors in the industry, as well as skills in customer service, sales, cultural practices (particularly dealing with international clients), marketing, and a real passion for the products they are selling. Teamwork is crucial on our small team, as is being intrinsically motivated to provide the best experience for clients.

First, receptive tour operators are not travel agents, nor do they operate the tours. We work with travel agents, wholesale agents, and occasionally with clients directly. However, it is mainly a B2B model. Receptive tour operators are in a dynamic workplace, with opportunities to learn and gain experience in other sectors and fields, as well as hone customer service and sales skills.

My advice is to really take hold of every opportunity that is presented, and to never stop learning about the industry. This is a very social industry and building a large solid network can help with future opportunities. Build up your customer service experience, whether it’s through front-line jobs or volunteering, and attend networking events. Schools often host or sponsor these, and students should be attending them all.

This is a really fun industry, and with so many sectors and positions available, I really believe that there is something for everyone in tourism.

Jody Young, Industry and Community Services Manager

Figure 13.11 Jody Young

Jody works for Tourism Vancouver Island. She holds a bachelor of tourism management from Vancouver Island University (2008). Jody says:

After graduation, it took a year and a half before I got my big break into the industry. I’m thankful for the time it took for my career to really start as it provided me the opportunity to travel around Southeast Asia. I started at Tourism Vancouver Island in an entry-level position as the distribution coordinator. After just one year in the role I was promoted to industry services coordinator where I was coordinating the association’s annual conference and AGM and conducting accommodation inspections. After another year and a half, I was promoted again to management level within the organization to the role I am currently in. As industry and community services manager, I oversee many portfolios for the organization such as community tourism development, event management, research, and promotion of the value of tourism.

The tourism management degree program at Vancouver Island University definitely set me up for success in this role. I highly recommend completing the four-year degree and getting as much hands-on, real-world experience that you can while completing your education. Employers will be looking for proven successes and workplace skills, not just completion of courses.

Although the tourism industry is vast with many desirable, well-paying career opportunities, it is still fairly new. The industry has room to grow on communicating that it is a key economic and social contributor to our province and country.

I would advise students to jump at an entry-level opportunity as it will be your door to advancing in your career in a particular organization. Once you’ve got your foot in the door, demonstrate your ability and you will soon find bigger opportunities presented to you. If I didn’t take the entry-level opportunity that was presented to me, I wouldn’t be in the role I am in today.

Students can get ahead by taking advantage of student rates at industry events. By attending these industry events you will rub shoulders with the folks who are at the top of the game in this industry and meeting potential future employers. Look for opportunities for mentorship programs or internships to gain that workplace experience as well.


As you can see, successful tourism and hospitality careers depend on reaching out and meeting people (networking), gaining practical experience, having a great attitude and work ethic, and committing to ongoing learning about the world, the industry, and yourself.

With diligence and a sense of exploration, you can launch your dream career in tourism and hospitality, today. Remember that career planning is an ongoing process — the more you practise the steps in this chapter, the more likely your success.

Now that you’ve explored the five sectors of tourism, special considerations, and your own place in the industry, it’s time to deepen your understanding. Chapter 14, on globalization and trends, will help you appreciate the big picture of tourism and hospitality.

Key Terms

  • Career planning: a series of deliberate steps with outcomes to help individuals achieve their short- and long-term career goals
  • Conflict management: the practice of being able to identify and handle conflicts sensibly, fairly, and efficiently
  • Co-op education: a special program offered by a college/university in which students alternate work and study, usually spending a number of weeks in full-time study and a number in full-time employment away from the campus
  • Experiential learning: learning that takes place when a student directly participates in experiences designed for a learning purpose; takes place both inside and outside of the classroom, and involves reflection as well as action
  • Hidden job market: employment opportunities that aren’t posted through traditional channels, but rather arise because of a person’s connections and relationships
  • Informational interview: a short appointment where you learn about an employer, or a specific role, from someone already established in the field
  • Internship: short-term, supervised work experience in a student’s field of interest for which the student may earn academic credit
  • Networking: creating relationships within a sector for the purpose of enhancing and developing one’s professional identity
  • Organizational culture: ways of acting, values, and beliefs shared within an organization
  • Personal attributes: describe what you are like as a person/employee, such as your attitude, personality type, and so on
  • Practicum: practical experiences outside the classroom supported by professionals in a workplace environment
  • Self-assessment: informal and formal methods of gathering information about yourself to make career decisions
  • Service learning: course-based, credit-bearing educational experience in which students participate in organized service that meets community needs and reflect on the service
  • Technical skills: skills and knowledge required to perform specific work
  • Transferable skills: skills required to perform a variety of tasks that can be transferred from one type of job to another
  • Values: an individual’s ways of living and making decisions that are congruent with his or her beliefs and principles
  • Volunteering: performing a service without pay in order to obtain work experience, learn new skills, meet people, contribute to community, and contribute to a cause


  1. Describe the steps of career planning.
  2. Identify your technical and transferable skills, and personal attributes.
  3. Share your draft resume and cover letter with a trusted classmate, friend, or family member. What feedback do they have for you? What did you do well, and what needs improving?
  4. The act of creating professional relationships is referred to as_________________.
  5. List the ways job seekers connect to potential employment opportunities.
  6. Based on your career plan, identify additional training, development, and continued learning you will need for professional success.
  7. Define experiential learning. What are the common types of experiential learning options?
  8. Why is it important to understand an organization’s culture and social norms?
  9. What are the steps in conflict management resolution? Think back to a recent dispute you have had. How might these steps have changed the outcome?
  10. Pick one success story that resonates with you. What are three key things you learned from the experience you have read about?


Bringle, R.G., & Hatcher, J.A. (1995). A service-learning curriculum for faculty. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 2, 112-122.

Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. (2012). Organizational culture. Retrieved from culture

ConnectEd. (2011). Career practicum: A work-based learning strategy. [PDF] The California Center for College and Career. Retrieved from

ContactPoint. (2014a). Experiential learning. Retrieved from

ContactPoint. (2014b). Co-operative education. Retrieved from

ContactPoint. (2014c). Internship. Retrieved from

Iannarino, Anthony S. (n.d.).Initiative: The ability to take action proactively. Retrieved from

LinkBC. (2014). LinkBC roundtable 2014: Dialogue cafe. [PDF] Retrieved from

Lorenzo, G., & Ittelson, J. (2005). An overview of e-portfolios. [PDF] Educause learning initiative, 1, 1-27. Retrieved from

Pickerell, D.A. (2014). Work search strategies. In Blythe C. Shepard and Priya S. Mani (Eds.). Career development practice in Canada: Perspectives, principles and professionalism. Toronto, ON: Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling (CERIC), p. 215. Retrieved from

Rosenberg McKay, D. (2014). About careers: Self assessment. Retrieved from

Shepard, B. & Mani, P. (2013).Career development practice in Canada: Perspectives, principles and professionalism. Toronto, ON: Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling (CERIC). 


 Figure 13.1 VIU diploma winners by LinkBC is used under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

Figure 13.2 Green Resume CV & Business Card by buyalex is used under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

Figure 13.3 006 LinkBC Student-Industry Rendezvous 2013 by LinkBC is used under a CC BY 2.0 license.

Figure 13.4 West Coast Sightseeing’s booth by LinkBC is used under a CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.

Figure 13.5 Brock Martin by Melissa Phung for LinkBC is used under a CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

Figure 13.6 Katelyn Clarke by Vivian Kereki for LinkBC is used under a CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

Figure 13.7 Anna Rowinska by Karl Rowinski for LinkBC is used under a CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

Figure 13.8 Christine McCann by Beth Pink for LinkBC is used under a CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

Figure 13.9 Cleo Corbett by Digital Dean Photography for LinkBC is used under a CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

Figure 13.10 Marie-Catherine Lapointe by Marie-Catherine Lapointe for LinkBC is used under a CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

Figure 13.11 Jody Young by Landon Sveinson Photography for LinkBC is used under a CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.


Appendix: Glossary

Glossary of Terms

  • Aboriginal cultural experiences: experiences that are offered in a manner that is appropriate, respectful, and true to the Aboriginal culture being portrayed
  • Aboriginal cultural tourism: Aboriginal tourism that incorporates Aboriginal culture as a significant portion of the experience in a manner that is appropriate, respectful, and true (see Aboriginal cultural experiences)
  • Aboriginal peoples: the indigenous people of Canada, recognized in the Canadian Constitution Act as comprising three groups: First Nations, Métis, and Inuit
  • Aboriginal tourism: tourism businesses that are majority owned and operated by First Nations, Métis, and Inuit (known as indigenous tourism outside of Canada)
  • Aboriginal Tourism Association BC (AtBC): the organization responsible for developing and marketing Aboriginal tourism experiences in BC in a strategic way; members are over 51% owned and operated by First Nations, Métis, and Inuit
  • Aboriginal Tourism Association Canada (ATAC): a consortium of over 20 Aboriginal tourism industry organizations and government representatives from across Canada
  • Adventure tourism: outdoor activities with an element of risk, usually somewhat physically challenging and undertaken in natural, undeveloped areas
  • Advertorial: print content (sometimes appearing online) that is a combination of an editorial feature and paid advertising
  • Agritourism: tourism experiences that highlight rural destinations and prominently feature agricultural operations
  • American Indian: a term used to describe First people in the United States, still used today
  • Ancillary revenues: money earned on non-essential components of the transportation experience including headsets, blankets, and meals
  • Appropriation: the action of taking something for one’s own use, typically without the owner’s permission
  • Art museums: museums that collect historical and modern works of art for educational purposes and to preserve them for future generations
  • Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC): a forum that brings together countries from the Asia Pacific region (including Canada), and which has a Tourism Working Group that looks at policy development in a tourism context
  • Assets: items of value owned by a business to be used in the production and service of the experience
  • Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG): Canada’s only internationally recognized guiding association, offering a range of certifications
  • Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA): a trade organization established in 1977 to ensure high standards of customer service, engage in advocacy for the trade, conduct research, and facilitate travel agent training
  • Authentic Indigenous Artisan Program: protects Aboriginal artists by identifying three tiers of artwork based on the degree to which Aboriginal people have participated in their creation; a tool to combat cultural appropriation
  • Authenticity of experience: a hot topic in tourism that started with MacCannell in 1976 and continues to today; discussion of the extent to which experiences are staged for visitors
  • Avalanche Canada: a not-for-profit society that provides public avalanche forecasts and education for back country travellers venturing into avalanche terrain, dedicated to a vision of eliminating avalanche injuries and fatalities in Canada
  • Average cheque: total sales divided by number of guests served
  • Average daily rate (ADR): average guest room income per occupied room in a given time period


  • Back of house: food production areas not accessible to guests and not generally visible; also known as heart of house
  • BC Hospitality Foundation (BCHF): created to help support hospitality professionals in their time of need; now also a provider of scholarships for students in hospitality management and culinary programs
  • BC Hotel Association (BCHA): the trade association for BC’s hotel industry, which hosts an annual industry trade show and seminar series, and publishes InnFocus magazine for professionals
  • BC Lodging and Campgrounds Association (BCLCA): represents the interests of independently owned campgrounds and lodges in BC
  • BC Parks: the agency responsible for management of provincial parks in British Columbia
  • BC Restaurant & Foodservices Association (BCRFA): representing the interests of more than 3000 of the province’s foodservice operators in matters including wages, benefits, and liquor licenses, and other relevant matters
  • Beverage costs: beverages sold in liquor-licensed operations; this usually only includes alcohol, but in unlicensed operations, it includes coffee, tea milk, juices, and soft drinks
  • Blue Sky Policy: Canada’s approach to open skies agreements that govern which countries’ airlines are allowed to fly to, and from, Canadian destinations
  • Botanical garden: a garden that displays native and/or non-native plants and trees, often running educational programming
  • Breach in the standard of care: failure of a defendant to work to the recognized standard
  • BRIC: an acronym for the growing economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China
  • BRICS: the acronym for the BRIC countries with the addition of South Africa
  • British Columbia Golf Marketing Alliance: a strategic alliance representing 58 regional and destination golf resorts in BC with the goal of having BC achieve recognition nationally and internationally as a leading golf destination
  • British Columbia Government Travel Bureau (BCGTB): the first recognized provincial government organization responsible for the tourism marketing of British Columbia
  • British Columbia Guest Ranchers Association (BCGRA): an organization offering marketing opportunities and development support for BC’s guest ranch operators
  • British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC): the crown corporation responsible for operating casinos, lotteries, bingo halls, and online gaming in the province of BC
  • British Columbia Snowmobile Federation (BCSF): an organization offering snowmobile patrol services, lessons on operations, and advocating for the maintenance of riding areas in BC
  • Business Events Industry Coalition of Canada (BEICC): an advocacy group for the meetings and events industry in Canada


  • Camping and RVing British Columbia Coalition (CRVBCC): represents campground managers and brings together additional stakeholders including the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association of BC and the Freshwater Fisheries Society
  • Canada West Ski Areas Association (CWSAA): founded in 1966 and headquartered in Kelowna, BC, CWSAA represents ski areas and industry suppliers and provides government and media relations as well as safety and risk management expertise to its membership
  • Canada’s West Marketplace: a partnership between Destination BC and Travel Alberta, showcasing BC travel products in a business-to-business sales environment
  • Canadian Association of Tour Operators (CATO): a membership-based organization that serves as the voice of the tour operator segment and engages in professional development and networking in the sector
  • Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR): a national railway company widely regarded as establishing tourism in Canada and BC in the late 1800s and early 1900s
  • Canadian Ski Guide Association (CSGA): founded in British Columbia, an organization that runs a training institute for professional guides, and a separate non-profit organization representing CSGA guide and operating members
  • Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance (CSTA): created in 2000, an industry organization funded by the Canadian Tourism Commission to increase Canadian capacity to attract and host sport tourism events
  • Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC): the national government Crown corporation responsible for marketing Canada abroad
  • Capacity: the ability of a person to enter into a legal agreement; depends on the age and mental state of the person (among other factors)
  • Captured patrons: consumers with limited selection or choice of food or beverage provider given their occupation or location
  • Carbon offsetting: a market-based system that provides options for organizations to invest in green initiatives to offset their own carbon emissions
  • Career planning: a series of deliberate steps with outcomes to help individuals achieve their short- and long-term career goals
  • Carrying capacity: the maximum number of a given species that can be sustained in a specific habitat or biosphere without negative impacts
  • Causation: a strong link between the actions of the defendant and the injury to the plaintiff
  • Collaborative consumption: also known as the sharing economy, a blend of economy, technology, and social movement where access to goods and skills is more important than ownership (e.g., Airbnb)
  • Commercial Bear Viewing Association of BC (CBVA): promoters of best practices in sustainable viewing, training, and certification for guides, and advocating for land use practices
  • Commercial foodservice: operations whose primary business is food and beverage
  • Commercial general liability insurance: the most common type of liability insurance that provides coverage for litigation; generally legal costs and personal injury settlements arising from a lawsuit are covered
  • Community destination marketing organization (CDMO): a DMO that represents a city or town
  • Community gaming centres (CGCs): small-scale gaming establishments, typically in the form of bingo halls
  • Competitive set: a marketing term used to identify a group of hotels that include all competitors that a hotel’s guests are likely to go to consider an alternative to the company (minimum of three)
  • Conferences: business events that have specific themes and are held for smaller groups than conventions
  • Conflict management: the practice of being able to identify and handle conflicts sensibly, fairly, and efficiently
  • Conscious consumerism: refers to consumers using their purchasing power to shape the world according to their values and beliefs
  • Consideration: the value exchanged between parties in the contract (money, services, or waiving legal rights)
  • Conventions: business events that generally have very large attendance, are held annually in different locations each year, and usually require a bidding process
  • Co-op education: a special program offered by a college/university in which students alternate work and study, usually spending a number of weeks in full-time study and a number in full-time employment away from the campus
  • Costs per occupied room (CPOR): all the costs associated with making a room ready for a guest (linens, cleaning costs, guest amenities)
  • Cross-utilization: when a menu is created to make multiple uses of a small number of staple pantry ingredients, helping to keep food costs down
  • Crown land: land owned and managed by either the provincial or federal governm