British Columbia’s unique heritage is part of the draw that brings thousands of tourists to the province’s doorstep each year. Visitors and residents alike know one of the best ways to get to know BC is by experiencing the people and places which have made the province what it is today. In order to facilitate this growing interest in heritage tourism, the Heritage Tourism Alliance of BC was launched in 2007. The Alliance works in collaboration with Tourism BC through its Experiences BC program to promote and celebrate the very best of BC’s heritage sites and experiences.
“Heritage tourism is an important component of cultural tourism, one of the fastest growing sectors in the industry today,” says Tiffany Gyles, heritage tourism liaison with the Heritage Tourism Alliance. “In times like these where funding is tight for promoting new initiatives, we are able to achieve more by working together.”
The Alliance is made up of partners from Tourism BC, Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts, Heritage BC, BC Museums Association, Parks Canada, BC Heritage Properties, the Business Improvement Areas of BC, and a variety of independent heritage operators. While visiting heritage sites is not a new phenomenon to travelers to BC, the Alliance is working to ensure heritage is an essential part of the BC experience and easy to seek out for those who like a bit of the past in their present day travel.
The World Tourism Organization has identified travellers are looking for a complete, participatory authentic experience which also provides them with opportunities for new knowledge. And statistics are favourable for BC’s target audiences. For instance, 17 per cent or 34.5 million American adults are heritage tourism enthusiasts and of these 63 per cent sought out heritage experiences as part of their last visit. Canadians are also keen on heritage, with 11 per cent identifying themselves as heritage tourism devotees, more than 55 per cent of them made a heritage experience part of their last trip.
“In BC, our heritage is valued as a major contributor to our distinctive identity, character and sense of place to our communities, residents and visitors,” says Jim Harding, executive director of the BC Museums Association and a member of the Heritage Tourism Alliance. “The purpose of the Alliance is to raise awareness of the breadth and depth of BC’s heritage experiences across the province.”
One of the ways the Alliance is working to raise the profile of heritage tourism in BC is by educating consumers on where to access information on the province’s heritage tourism experiences. The Heritage Tourism Alliance will launch a website for visitors to BC, www.timetravelbc.com later this summer. The website puts the province’s heritage experiences at traveler’s fingertips, so they can plan activities and itineraries with ease. For more information about the Heritage Tourism Alliance of BC, please contact Tiffany Gyles at firstname.lastname@example.org.