Looking to the outskirts

Parksville Qualicum Beach Tourism Association will focus on smaller centres in 2013; a Parksville city councillor says group is 'critical'

The Parksville Qualicum Beach Tourism Association held its annual general meeting Thursday at Sunrise Ridge Resort. Above are the association’s board chair Robynne Shaw and executive director Blain Sepos.

The work of the Parksville Qualicum Beach Tourism Association (PQBTA) is “critical” to the financial health of our region and should be better supported by the municipality, says a Parksville city councillor.

More than 77 per cent of the association’s 2012 revenue of $528,000 came from a two per cent hotel tax (which is up for renewal through the provincial government in 2014). About 10 per cent came from fees and surcharges, including those from member businesses and municipalities like Parksville.

“I think this group is absolutely critical to the tourism economy of Parksville Qualicum,” Coun. Bill Neufeld, the city’s non-voting representative on the PQBTA’s board, said at the association’s annual general meeting Thursday. “I think we get more than our dollars’ worth and I think we should be supporting it far more greatly. Council should be putting more dollars into it.”

The association actually budgeted for a deficit in 2012 (it worked out to $86,308), due to a major re-branding project that eventually changed its name. The group used to be called the Oceanside Tourism Association.

Both the chair of the board Robynne Shaw (the general manager of Sunrise Ridge Resort) and PQBTA executive director Blain Sepos believe the re-branding has been a success.

“It’s been received very well, within the community and beyond,” said Shaw.

“I’ve heard anecdotally from people that they really feel it’s a strong brand,” said Sepos. “It’s fresh and eye-catching.”

The PQBTA budget for 2013 forecasts a rise in revenue of just less than two per cent.

“You wouldn’t think two per cent is a big thing, but that’s probably a pretty aggresive target,” said Sepos. “The meetings market, which is a big part of what grows our shoulder/off season stuff, still has huge challenges. It’s not as robust as it was in 2008 — governments and corporations are trying to save money wherever they can.”

Shaw said a focus for 2013 will be getting tourists to look at visiting smaller centres once they have enjoyed the amenities in Parksville and Qualicum Beach.

“We are going to work really hard on promoting more of the outlying areas and making sure people are aware of all the hidden jewels we have —  the Bowsers, the Deep Bays, the Nanooses — and all the little things that are happening within those communities,” said Shaw. “They just don’t have to come here and spend the day in Parksville — they have to reach beyond and see all of (the region).”

Here is the the 2013/2014 PQBTA board of directors:

Robynne Shaw (chair) of Sunrise Ridge Resort, Shawna Broekhuizen (vice-chair) of The Beach Club Resort, Geoff Ball (treasurer) of the Qualicum Beach Chamber of Commerce, Paul Drummond (past chair) of Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort and Conference Centre, Richard Varela of Horne Lake Adventures, Pat Jiggins of Paradise Sea Shell Motel, Adventure RV Park and Arrowsmith Golf, Noel Hayward of the Old Dutch Inn, Sandy Herle of Close To You Ladies Fashion and Lingerie, Rob Hill of Oceanside Village Resort, Al McLean (appointed director) of the Parksville and District Chamber of Commerce, Kim Burden (non-voting director) of the Parksville and District Chamber of Commerce, Evelyn Clark (non-voting director) of the Qualicum Beach Chamber of Commerce, Dave Willie (non-voting director) from the Town of Qualicum Beach, George Holme (non-voting director) from the Regional District of Nanaimo and Bill Neufeld  (non-voting director) from the City of Parksville.

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