Tracey McBride // Tourism Prince George
Destinations around the world compete for your visitation and the economic, social, and community benefits that go with it. During the pandemic, the global tourism industry flatlined and it went from being one of the fastest growing industries and major economic sectors in the world to losing revenues of up to $1.2 trillion in 2020 with over 100 million jobs at risk.
Women make up 54% of the tourism workforce, and youth workers are among the most at-risk categories. Some sectors like the airline industry have experienced up to 98% losses in demand and visitation.
Tourism is a community collaboration
Tourism is an ‘industry of industries’ and people visit a destination for many reasons. They come to see friends and family, for business and industry visitation, conferences, sporting events, culture and entertainment, and for shopping, just to name a few.
Many businesses, associations, and organizations play an integral part in ensuring that visitors have a positive and memorable experience. However, the people who live in a community play the most important part of that experience. Together as a community, we will all have to come together to help our tourism businesses weather the storm during the pandemic and recover once it’s over.
People are the most important community asset
Citizens are the most important tourism asset. People are the holders of a community’s authentic stories and history and are the brand ambassadors who can make or break the overall experience people have when visiting a destination. If a visitor feels welcomed, safe, and engaged, they will become our best marketers and advocates to their circles of influence. Hearing an endorsement from one person to another has a degree of authenticity to it that just can’t be replicated in a commercial or branded Instagram post.
This makes everyone who lives in Prince George a potential tourism ambassador, and in particular those who work in positions that involve regular contact with the public, such as retail clerks, gas station attendants, and drivers — whether on public transit, a taxi, or a ride service.
So if you’re going to be playing the role of tourism ambassador and inspiring visitors who come to our community to leave with a positive impression and send more visitors our way, here are some tips:
1. Take the pledge
Start off by making a pledge to be an advocate and supporter of Prince George. Visit supportpg.ca and show your commitment to sharing the stories of local businesses and individuals who are uplifting the community. Share and show your support on social media with the hashtag #SupportPG.
2. Get to know Prince George, even better than you may already
Check out the website for Tourism Prince George for some excellent local staycation ideas, then book one. Try something in Prince George you haven’t before. Check out that new restaurant (or a community mainstay you have yet to visit). Go skiing or ice fishing. Open yourself up to new experiences. And then …
3. Be social
Don’t be shy about taking to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok or whatever platform you are on to share your positive stories about Prince George. Take pictures of the great experiences one can have in our community, and talk up the people, attractions, activities, and eateries that make it a place worth spending some time. Tag Tourism Prince George on social platforms using #TakeonPG and #ExplorePrineGeorge. Get your friends and family excited to visit when it’s time to travel again!
4. Finally, be proud!
Your community needs you, now more than ever. The pandemic has ravaged the tourism industry. According to Destination Canada, overnight international visitors to Canada are down more than 94 per cent, year-over-year. This is a massive drop, and Prince George has not been immune to the impact.
When talking to family, friends, or that visitor on the street who asks for directions or advice, talk up the uniqueness and warmth of our city. It is people like you who are the characters in the Prince George story, and it is people like you who can convince others to come visit, and return time and time again.
More than ever, people want to be inspired and visit places that make them feel good, connected with nature and each other, and places they can feel relaxed and create memories they will cherish.
It just so happens, Prince George is exactly that kind of place! So what are you waiting for? Let’s start spreading the word!
About the author: Tracey McBride is the Chief Executive Officer of Tourism Prince George. Tracey has over 18 years of experience in municipal, regional, and provincial tourism marketing and development. She has worked in all tourism sectors including sports, conferences, media relations, travel trade, and leisure markets and has worked with many international events and audiences. Tracey loves the arts and culinary scene and writes in her spare time. She moved to Prince George in 2020 with her spouse Alex and their crew of animals.