The Langley Events Centre, when it first opened in 2009.

Township of Langley explores alternative tourism model

No decisions have been made, but the Township is actively exploring the possibility of creating a new Township-only non-profit tourism group

The Township of Langley may soon create a new tourism organization.

No decisions have been made, but the Township is actively engaging with stakeholders for input on setting up a new Township-only tourism group, instead of using the current non-profit, Tourism Langley, which serves both Langley Township and Langley City, Township Mayor Jack Froese told the Times.

“Council has resolved to explore an alternative tourism model, and that would be more Township-centric,” Froese said.

“The process right now, with council’s direction, (is) to explore that alternative model with the stakeholders.”

Tourism Langley was notified by the Township during its board meeting on Tuesday, Froese added.

Council will be making a decision soon, as Tourism Langley has until the end of the year to submit a council-endorsed renewal to the province to receive funding from the Municipal, Regional and District Tax (MRDT).

The MRDT is a hotel tax of up to 3 per cent, which was created in the late 1980s to help fund local tourism marketing, programs and projects.

Froese said that the Township of Langley has grown considerably since Tourism Langley was formed nearly 10 years ago. Places like the Langley Events Centre have since been built, and other facilities, such as Thunderbird Show Park, are taking on larger and larger events.

“It might be time to look at, do we need to have a Township-specific DMO (destination management organization)? And would that serve the needs of our stakeholders better than what is now?” Froese said.

Meanwhile, in the City of Langley, staff only found out about the Township’s initiative last week, and are now considering their options, CAO Francis Cheung told the Times.

“We’re still gathering information on exactly what the implications are. How is the Township going to be moving forward, if they are?” Cheung said.

“We’re still trying to find out what exactly is going on, and then, we have to obviously have some options for us to consider in terms of how we’re going to move forward … Because it’s so fresh we’re just trying to gather information at this point.”

In a letter to council, Jim Humphrey, chair of the Tourism Industry Association of B.C. (TIABC), urges council to “rethink the path” that they are considering.

The TIABC is a membership-based organization that advocates for more than 40 DMOs in B.C., including Tourism Langley.

“As you are aware, Tourism Langley’s work has led to five consecutive years of growth for Langley tourism operators adding significant economic impact to the community, along with jobs and investment in tourism products and services,” he wrote.

“Suffice it to say, the delivery model for tourism marketing works exceptionally well with Tourism Langley operating in a cost-effective, transparent, professional and accountable manner.

“In our view, the Township of Langley would be best served leaving the existing arrangement intact.”

Tourism Langley is a DMO and non-profit society that is governed by an independent board of directors. Their role is to create marketing strategies to promote local tourism, and in turn, enhance local businesses.

They began operating in January, 2008, after a two-year process of creating the Langley Tourism Plan. This was done through Tourism B.C.’s Community Tourism Foundations program, and involved assistance from both the City and Township, accommodation properties, attractions, the Chamber of Commerce, other tourism-related business and the regional tourism association, according to the Tourism Langley website.

There are currently 11 directors and three executive members of the board — Teri James (chair), Taylor Henderson (executive chair) and Karen Long (secretary/treasurer). Deborah Kulchiski is the executive director.