Travel + Leisure names Vancouver Island #1 Island in Canada

Vancouver Island maintains the #1 spot and continues to be recognized as a premier vacation destination. North America’s largest Pacific island, with its irresistible mix of pristine wilderness and top-ranked food and lodging, has again been voted one of the world’s leading island destinations.

Readers of Travel + Leisure magazine have named Vancouver Island “The Best Island in Canada,” in the magazine’s annual World’s Best Awards published in the August 2016 issue. Vancouver Island has remained among the top 3 islands in the Continental US and Canada since 2001.

T+L 2016 Nathan Lump and Joseph Messer

Heather McEachen with Nathan Lump and Joseph Messer of Travel + Leisure at the Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards in NYC on July 20th.

The Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards feature top hotels, cities, islands, cruise lines, airlines, airports, and more.  “Once again we are thrilled with this recognition from the readers of Travel + Leisure as a top island destination,” said Dave Petryk, President & CEO of Tourism Vancouver Island. “We are delighted that the readers of Travel + Leisure magazine have once again selected Vancouver Island as the #1 Island in Canada.  This is a reflection of the beautiful destination that Vancouver Island is and the delivery of fantastic hospitality that our tourism operators provide.” Heather McEachen, Tourism Vancouver Island’s Trade and Media Specialist, was honoured to accept the celebrated award during the World’s Best Awards Winners’ Ceremony on July 20 in New York City.

The Wickaninnish Inn in Tofino was named #3 Resort in Canada and The Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort & Spa was named #10 Resort in Canada, while the Magnolia Hotel & Spa in Victoria was named #7 City Hotel in Canada.

Also in the rankings is the City of Victoria, named #3 City in Canada. “Vancouver Island’s stunning geography, vast and abundant wilderness and remarkable tourism businesses offer travellers extraordinary experiences,” said Marsha Walden, CEO of Destination British Columbia. “Travel + Leisure readers have repeatedly recognized this special island in British Columbia as being among the world’s best.”

The Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards rely on guest experiences. Hotel/resort rankings are based on readers’ ratings of five characteristics: rooms/facilities, location, service, restaurants/food and value. This year’s results are featured in the August 2016 issue of the magazine, as well as on with Tourism Vancouver Island

Working with Tourism Vancouver Island

We’re available for speaking engagements on The Value of Tourism! The tourism industry in the Vancouver Island Region is a vast and interwoven network of tourism businesses, industry organizations, and government agencies all working together to grow and sustain a dynamic industry. Tourism is everyone’s business and everyone can play their part by applying knowledge, expertise and resources to achieve the best outcomes for a flourishing industry and visitor economy.

Tourism Vancouver Island would be happy to deliver a presentation on the Value of Tourism to your community or group. Presentations can be personalized to your audience and time frame and average 20 – 45 minutes. Presentations have been delivered to groups such as the Rotary Clubs, Chambers of Commerce, Mayors and Councils, and MLAs.

For more information, visit To request a speaking engagement, please contact Calum Matthews, Community & Industry Specialist at or by phone at 250-740-1224.

© 2016 HA Photography

Calum Matthews, Community & Industry Specialist

Presenter: Calum Matthews is an outdoor adventure enthusiast and enjoys exploring Vancouver Island in search of hidden surf breaks, new fly fishing spots and remote campsites in his spare time (suggestions always welcome). One of Calum’s more memorable camping trips was a 15-day excursion to Vancouver Island’s Brooks Peninsula where he was able to camp on white sand beaches, hike through old growth forests and catch glimpses of bears and wolves in their natural habitat. As a result of his many Vancouver Island adventures, Calum has had the opportunity to experience many of the Island’s unique tourism products first-hand. Calum holds a Master of Arts Degree in Political Science from the University of Toronto and a Bachelor of Arts and Science Degree from Quest University Canada. Prior to joining Tourism Vancouver Island, Calum worked as an Economic Development Intern for the Island Coastal Economic Trust. As an Economic Development Intern, Calum had the opportunity to work with many regional economic development and tourism stakeholders and to lead projects relating to economic impact assessments, community profiles, grant writing, business retention and expansion initiatives, and tourism product market studies.

Tourism Vancouver Island updates

Darsey BatchelorIntroducing Darsey Batchelor:  As a recent graduate, Darsey is very excited to have joined the Tourism Vancouver Island team as the Office Assistant. Darsey holds a Bachelor of Tourism Management from Vancouver Island University and has worked within the regional tourism industry throughout her academic career. Before joining the Tourism Vancouver Island team, Darsey worked at the Inn on Long Lake as a Social Media Manager and Front Desk Agent where she was able to promote and showcase the local tourism industry to tourists and social media followers alike. During her academic career, Darsey worked as a Research Assistant on a community based project that aimed at enhancing local tourism related marketing intelligence and mobilizing tourism sector consumer behaviours within niche and regional sectors through the use of data driven reports and presentations that were shared amongst community stakeholders.

Darsey moved to Vancouver Island from a rural East Kootenay community and has enjoyed every bit of her transition into the Island lifestyle. Darsey enjoys exploring Vancouver Island and looking for new beaches and lakes to take her stand up paddle board to. After moving to Vancouver Island, Darsey has enjoyed discovering and participating in many of the special events and festivals that take place on the Island and she has enjoyed volunteering for some of these local organizations. As a free spirit, Darsey is always up for an adventure and is eager to explore more of Vancouver Island.

As an Office Assistant, Darsey will spend much of her time supporting and assisting her co-workers with a variety of different projects. In addition to her general office duties, Darsey assists with coordinating and developing itineraries for familiarization tours and press trips, maintaining and updating a variety of databases, and ensuring that the results of trade and industry activities are documents and measured on a regular basis. To welcome Darsey, feel free to send her a message at For a list of our team, please visit the Meet Our Staff page.

Marketing: Have you seen Tourism Vancouver Island’s “Find Your Element” campaign in action?  The first phase of TV and digital media wrapped up in June and the next phase will begin in August.  Find Your Element plays off the notion that everyone longs to be “in their element.”  When are you in your element?  Is it when you’re experiencing local culture?  Hiking the trail?  Paddling in the ocean?  Vancouver Island has all the elements and Tourism Vancouver Island is encouraging visitors to get back into their element.  All paid media is driving consumers to where they can build their own formula to discover what their element is.  Haven’t seen the TV spots?  Watch them here.

“Find Your Element” is finding its way into everything Tourism Vancouver Island is doing this year too.  There are three new exciting programs for stakeholders to participate in to capitalize on the new campaign.  The Touring & Exploring Guide, the Touring & Exploring Map Book and  Each program is uniquely designed to offer Vancouver Island stakeholder low-cost opportunities to reach BC and Alberta residents.  Click the links for full details of each program or contact your sales representative.  Cindy Pollard and Kevin East have been contracted by Tourism Vancouver Island to work with industry stakeholders to recommend and match programs that best meet your needs.  Connect with them today to learn about the programs that will work for you.

Regions:  Gulf Islands, South Island, Cowichan & Nanaimo
Cindy Pollard

Regions:  Parksville/Qualicum Beach, Pacific Rim, North Central & North Island
Kevin East

Trade & Media Relations: During the period of April through June, over 25 media requests to visit the Vancouver Island region were received. Heather McEachen, attended Destination BC media events in Vancouver and Seattle where she pitched new story ideas to key media professionals. Tourism Vancouver Island hosted one of Destination BC’s coveted summer group press trips which covered the Pacific Marine Circle Route. International media came from China, Germany, Japan, Australia and USA. Key publications that were supported from April through June include Sunset Magazine, Vitamin Daily, Daily Telegraph (UK), Vancouver Magazine, Vancouver Sun, Dumont Bildatlas and Abenteur + Reisen (Germany), Social Media Influencers and BC Living.

Highlights from recent media coverage include:

Tourism Vancouver Island assisted with coordinating eight travel trade familiarization tours (FAMs) which included a number of key product managers from the UK, Japan and Canada looking to add new product to their itineraries.

Community & Industry Services: This summer is an exciting time for the Community and Industry Services Team. The recently launched Destination Development program is working in partnership with tourism industry stakeholders to facilitate the creation of 10-year destination development strategic plans. This program focuses on enhancing the quality of visitor’s experiences by ensuring tourism services, amenities and practices are relevant to the visitor and exceptional.  The strategic planning process on Vancouver Island started in July and will continue over the next 6-12 months. For more information on the program, click here.

Tourism Vancouver Island completed the second phase of the three phase Vancouver Island Trails Strategy, which focused on the development of a Hiking Tourism Master Plan for the Vancouver Island and Sunshine Coast Region. Thanks to the work of a dedicated and diverse hiking tourism stakeholder group, the Master Plan is an authentic, community-driven vision which outlines our region’s path to an Exceptional Hiking Experience Network. The next phase of this project will continue to engage hiking tourism stakeholders as we implement the Master Plan and develop the Exceptional Hiking Experience Network.

The Destination BC led Remarkable Experiences Program pilot was held from October 2015 to early April, 2016 within four regions of the province and included Vancouver Island North. Key learnings during the pilot have led to a renewed project scope with the revised program now being offered in six locations across the province in fall/winter 2016/2017. This one-of-a-kind tourism program is designed to support BC tourism operators in developing and delivering outstanding, visitor-focused experiences while enhancing their digital and social media marketing efforts. Tourism Vancouver Island will be connecting with suitable businesses that meet the program criteria from late July through early September.

Nominations are open for Tourism Vancouver Island Awards

VI_Tourism_conference2011-5551Every year Tourism Vancouver Island has the pleasure of recognizing stakeholders who have significantly impacted our industry in various ways.

Six different awards are available to those individuals and organizations who have demonstrated great efforts and achievements in the tourism industry over the past year. Nominations will be accepted until Monday, August 15, 2016.

Awards include:
Power of Partners – sponsored by Golf Vancouver Island
Recognizes a business or organization that has demonstrated successful partnerships with other Vancouver Island region tourism businesses or organizations resulting in increased visitation to the Vancouver Island region

Innovator of the Year – sponsored by the Web Advisors
Recognizes a business, organization, or individual that has developed or renewed a tourism product, package, or initiative that captures the attention of visitors and thus increases the desirability of the Vancouver Island Region as a destination.

Multi Media Marketing – sponsored by Tourism Victoria
Recognizes a business or organization for its innovative use of various forms of social media and traditional marketing mediums in a specific and targeted campaign that was successful in attracting visitors to their business or organization and the Vancouver Island Region.

MVP – sponsored by The Sociable Scientists
Recognizes an individual or a tourism business that has demonstrated a commitment to the growth of tourism through outstanding contributions to Tourism Vancouver Island. The staff of Tourism Vancouver Island, nominates and selects the winner of this award.

Tourism Employee of the Year – sponsored by Whiskey Landing Lodge
Recognizes a tourism employee that has demonstrated exemplary work performance above and beyond the regular call of duty; thereby enhancing business or customer satisfaction.

Tourism Sustainability – sponsored by Wya Point Resort
Recognizes a tourism business in the Vancouver Island Region that has that set out to minimize their environmental impact, conserve natural resources, respect local cultures and benefit local communities in the past 12 months. Their commitment to environmentally responsible tourism and changing the way they conduct business serves as an example to the industry.

The FortisBC Award – sponsored by FortisBC
Recognizes a business or organization that utilizes natural gas in their tourism related operation. The successful nominee will have demonstrated that they are a FortisBC customer and are proud to utilize natural gas in their operation.

For more details and nomination forms, visit

Register now for the Tourism Vancouver Island 53rd Annual Conference and AGM, to be held October 4-6, 2016 in Ucluelet.

Tourism Industry Association of Canada 2016 Tourism Congress registration now open!

TIACRegistration for the November 29-30, 2016 Tourism Congress is now open. Register now to take advantage of the early bird discount rate, ending October 2, 2016. For engaging panels, access to political decision makers and industry networking, do not miss TIAC’s 2016 Tourism Congress, held at the Hilton Lac-Leamy Hotel in Gatineau, QC.

The Tourism Congress is TIAC’s annual industry conference, and the only national and cross-sectoral tourism industry gathering in Canada. It is a must-attend event for any tourism professional with a genuine interest in the future of Canada’s international travel business.

The conference assembles tourism industry leaders from across the country at the doorstep of our elected officials and decision-makers, whose departments and agencies impact upon the industry. For more information, visit the TIAC website.

Vancouver Island North has applied for Whale Heritage Site Status

Whale WatchingCommunities in the northern Vancouver Island region are working together for international accreditation as a Whale Heritage Site. “Vancouver Island North currently meets all the criteria required to become a Whale Heritage Site, including those that focus on how people co-exist with, benefit from, conserve, and celebrate cetaceans,” explains Andrew Jones, President of the North Island Marine Mammal Stewardship Association (NIMMSA). He says “accreditation may bring regional, national, and global attention to the area and help to promote sustainable tourism, marine conservation, and the whale-related cultural heritage of coastal communities”.

First Nations people of the northern Vancouver Island region have shared a cultural connection with killer whales for thousands of years. The area contains the world’s first ecological reserve for whales and is home to some of the longest-running whale research projects ever conducted. It is also where Canada’s commercial whale watching industry began. The Whale Heritage Site initiative, recently launched by the World Cetacean Alliance aims to identify unique locations around the world where cetaceans have played an important role in the development of community, conservation, culture, policy, science, arts, and the economy.

A Vancouver Island North Whale Heritage Site would recognize the unique ways that people relate to whales in the area. The certification does not aim to impose limitations but rather to highlight values that already exist. An advisory team consisting of representatives from regional government bodies, tourism industry stakeholders and non-governmental organizations including the NIMMSA, the Regional District of Mount Waddington, Aboriginal Tourism BC, Community Futures, the MERS Marine Education and Research Society, the City of Campbell River, Raincoast Research and Tourism Vancouver Island have provided input on the initial application for Whale Heritage Site status for the northern Vancouver Island region.

For more information, visit the Whale Heritage Sites or the World Cetacean Alliance websites.

WorkSafe BC reduces rates for most tourism sectorsWorkSafeBC-Logo1

WorkSafeBC Base Rates will reduce for most tourism and hospitality sectors. The preliminary base rates were announced July 14 at the Employers’ Forum in Vancouver, BC.

go2HR_NoTagline“This is wonderful news for our industry,” says Arlene Keis, CEO of go2HR. “A decrease in base rate for a classification unit (CU) means that there has been an overall improvement in total claim costs within the CU. This in part is a result of ongoing education on effective injury prevention and management practices, as well as proactive implementation of best practices from our industry.”

Here are the preliminary base rates for select tourism and hospitality classification units:

go2hr worksafe bc rates

It’s not all good news for the industry as some businesses will see no change or an increase in their base rate. “We want the entire industry to reap the benefits of good workplace health & safety practices. We look forward to working with those businesses on improving their health & safety program so their base rates will improve over time as well,” adds Keis.

Employers are encouraged to attend one of the upcoming WorkSafeBC Rate Consultation Sessions across BC to learn more about the preliminary base rates, injury trends and ways to reduce injuries, claim costs, and their insurance rate. Register at

Sunshine Coast Tourism is hiring an Executive Director

Sunshine Coast Tourism is looking for a dynamic, innovative and passionate Executive Director with excellent communication, marketing and leadership skills to lead their talented team and continue to engage and grow the vibrant tourism and hospitality communities on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia.

Please visit the employment opportunities for detailed information. Applications due August 31.

Unique Opportunity & Significant Potential – Free Spirit Spheres

Free Spirit Spheres, located in Qualicum Beach in British Columbia, Canada, is the world’s first suspended spherical treehouse accommodation. Since 1998, the business has received valuable and extensive world-wide exposure for its luxurious habitat in the forest canopy. The business is bursting with potential, and has demonstrated consumer demand and significant growth opportunity for a visionary who comes with a new forest location. Tom Chudleigh and Rosey Cowan, who are retiring from the hospitality business, are looking for partners.

About Free Spirit Spheres

  • Free Spirit Spheres is a global leader of treehouse design and suspension technology.
  • Currently the business is located on five leased acres in Qualicum Beach. A new location is required to enable growth, although a new partner could continue to operate profitably on the current property.
  • Visitors are attracted to the forest canopy and we help them respect and re-connect with nature. The sphere is supported by a web of rope, which underlines our connectedness to the environment we exist in. Each sphere fits harmoniously into the forest with minimal tree damage and no ground footprint. We nurture future stewards of the environment.
  • Free Spirit Spheres receives an enormous amount of global publicity due to the unique nature of the product, including: “Editors Pick” in the Lonely Planet travel guides for the past 11 years; articles in over 50 magazines in 2015 (e.g., National Geographic Traveller); listed in the top 15 “Unique Accommodation” venues in the world by multiple significant travel web sites and blogs such as Trip Advisor, Jetsetter, The Flight Network, Road Trippers and Lonely Planet; and, hosted film crews from around the world.
  • Clientele are seeking adventure and a unique experience. Many are on a special getaway celebrating a marriage, anniversary or birthday. Most want to reconnect with nature, while some are on a journey of self discovery or healing. All want to experience the feeling of connectedness to nature.

Free Spirit Spheres

  • Business comes with: three existing rental spheres – Eve, Eryn and Melody; bath house/cook house/mushroom outhouses; stairways, walkways, bridges, rigging and electrical distribution equipment; web site; brand, logo, reputation and good will; future publicity; customer database; future possibilities: plans and conceptual drawings; first option to purchase new spheres, or order custom spheres; intangible assets: Risk Management Program and Liability Insurance, franchise potential, and generator/welder.
  • The spheres are also easily moved and set up could be accomplished in 3 months, once moving has begun.
  • We have over 50 sphere-years of experience – accident free.

Learn more: Tom Chudleigh or Jamie Cowan,, 250.757.9445

Tourism Industry applauds the Trudeau government’s move to lift Mexico visa requirements

TIACThe Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) applauds the Government of Canada’s announcement committing to the lifting of the Mexican visa requirement as of December 1st, 2016. The reiteration of this promise shows a concrete step towards visa openness in one of our most important tourism markets.

This much anticipated announcement is widely welcomed by the tourism industry. After years of declining visits from Mexican travellers, we have seen a rebound of interest from this important travel market. In the first quarter of 2016, visitation is up more than 25% according to Statistics Canada. This number will only continue to grow when the visa is lifted.

“After the visa was imposed on Mexican citizens in 2009, travellers from the Mexican market dropped to levels that we have not fully recovered from,” states Charlotte Bell, TIAC President & CEO. “By lifting this visa, we expect that visitation will increase by up to an additional 82,000 Mexicans a year – spending up to $122 million more at Canadian businesses”.

The introduction of the Electronic Travel Authorization program (eTA) will take the place of the visa requirement for Mexican visitors. This program is much more accessible, affordable, and simple for travellers who wish to travel to Canada than the traditional visa process. It should also inform Mexican visitors about their travel eligibility before coming to Canada.

TIAC’s vocal advocacy for modernizing Canada’s visa processing system while maintaining necessary security precautions has been successful in delivering incremental improvements such as the CAN+ program, multi-year entry visas, and the eventual waiver of visa requirements for Mexican travellers.

“Investments in programs like the eTA, security infrastructure and other measures will continue to help ease the burden of travel if properly implemented, ultimately making Canada a more attractive travel destination,” claims Ms. Bell. “We hope to see similar changes made to other priority travel markets in the future.

Tourism sees significant growth in first quarter of 2016

destination bc logo2016 is off to a remarkable start, with BC breaking records in several markets. From January – April, BC recorded the highest number of international overnight visitor arrivals, for the same reporting period, since 2000. In addition, overnight visitor arrivals from China, Australia, France, Mexico, and India, between January and April, were the highest since 2000. BC continues to have significant increases in US overnight entries, up 22.1% compared to April 2015; similarly, year to date US overnight entries is up 20.7%. Total International Overnight visitation to BC is up 21.0% for April compared to April 2015 and up 18.2% year to date. See all international arrivals here.

The PGA Tour Champions to visit Vancouver Island’s Bear Mountain Golf Resort

2007-GVI logo blackThe PGA TOUR Champions visit Vancouver Island’s Bear Mountain Golf Resort for the Pacific Links Championship, September 19-25, 2016.

Previous Major championship winners Mark Calcavecchia, Jeff Sluman, Larry Mize and Bob Tway have all committed toward competing for the US$ 2.5 million purse. An estimated 80 additional top ranked professionals are expected to confirm in the coming months to shape what is sure to be an exciting event!

Play Where The Pros Play
Want to play the course before and after the pros? We will have custom golf packages around the PLC plus we will be sharing ticket information as it becomes available. View More…

Get Involved, Become a Tournament Volunteer
The Pacific Links Championship is now accepting volunteer submissions for the tournament. To register as a volunteer, click through and follow the link for volunteers. View More…

Dragon’s Den star to speak at Island’s Economic Summit

viea-2016Speaking to the importance of disruptive thinking, technology, and innovation, Nicole Verkindt, Founder of OMX, Round Up commentator on CBC’s The Exchange and Dragon on Next Gen Den, stresses that the key to success lies in the ability to ignore being told “no” over and over again. Hear from Nicole on how investment in technology can drive competitive growth, and how to leverage technology as a competitive advantage at the 10th Annual State of the Island Economic Summit on October 26th at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre in Nanaimo.

Disruption is affecting virtually every industry. The primary cause of disruption is rapid technology change and the entrepreneurial ability to harness technological change into the generation of new business models.

The disruption is at once destructive and creative. Whole markets, industries and technologies can be displaced in a short period of time. However, economies that invest in technology and innovation are more efficient and productive. To date, Canada has been among the leading countries in digitization, but risks stalling out without continued investment.

The 10th Anniversary ‘State of the Island’ Economic Summit is scheduled for Wednesday & Thursday, October 26 & 27, 2016 at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre in Nanaimo, British Columbia. Everyone attending will receive a complimentary copy of the ‘State of the Island Economic Report.’

The Vancouver Island State of the Island Economic Summit provides a venue and a forum for businesses and stakeholders on Vancouver Island to understand the State of the Island Economy. Youth, First Nations, Political Leaders, Business Leaders, Small Business and other inspirational leaders on Vancouver Island participate in championing actions which will position Vancouver Island in the Global Marketplace. Book Now & Save $30! Register for the 2016 Summit

Tea history made – Westholme Tea Farm

On July 1 Canada Day, after six years of waiting, we had the great privilege and joy of sharing our farm grown Spring first-harvest tea with you and the rest of the world.

We are tremendously grateful to our staff, supportive friends and an incredibly generous community near and far who have shared our tea journey with us. The first sip of our locally grown single origin tea on Canada Day and the days that followed were filled with celebration and appreciation.

We are very proud to be making our rare Canadian tea available to you and sharing our love for tea with the world. From early spring on, we hear the riveting song of the Pacific Tree Frog in the meadows and wetlands surrounding our farm. The song fills the valley and adds an enchanting and mysterious sensation to the time of year.
Tree Frog Green – Spring Harvest consists of thousands of carefully selected tender leaves and buds from our well established 6-year old tea plants. For more information, visit