Vancouver, BC – Destination BC is supporting the valuable contribution of BC’s network of community-based Visitor Centres, by renewing its three-year commitment to base funding throughout the province. In addition, Destination BC is increasing the minimum level of base funding to $15,000, for those currently receiving $10,000 to $12,500 per year.

There are 129 community-owned Visitor Centres throughout British Columbia that are members of Destination BC’s Visitor Services Network Program. They each play a pivotal role in providing accurate and timely travel information to those looking to explore communities, locate accommodation, visit attractions, and participate in tourism activities in British Columbia. In a typical year, community Visitor Centres, collectively serve over 2.9 million visitors at their physical locations, over the phone, and via email and other digital channels.

In 2020, despite the impacts of COVID-19 on tourism and Visitor Centre operations, the professional visitor services teams in communities across BC still served almost one million visitors in person and via digital channels. In 2021, Visitor Centres are on track to exceed 2020 visitation numbers. 

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, community Visitor Centres were instrumental in communicating Provincial Health Orders and health and safety protocols, supporting local businesses, and boosting local economies. During recent wildfire activity, community Visitor Centres supported evacuees and travelers by sharing on-the-ground safety and travel information.

This three-year commitment will support long-term business planning, increase stability, encourage innovation, and provide for the increasing hard costs of providing visitor services in communities across BC. In 2021/22, $2.105 million has been allocated to this vital tourism support program through the Province of BC.


Honourable Melanie Mark, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport

“It is crucial for the health of BC’s tourism industry to ensure we are welcoming visitors back to all corners of our province and supporting them on their adventures. Providing excellent visitor services is one of the many ways we do this, and I am delighted with Destination BC’s ongoing support of the Visitor Services Network. This funding commitment gives communities the resources they need to develop and deliver world-class visitor services in person and digitally, too.”

Richard Porges, President & CEO, Destination BC

“Destination BC continues to support communities through our Visitor Services Network Program, to help make exploring British Columbia enjoyable and easy. The renewal of our three-year funding commitment, and increase in the minimum amount, will ensure that information is readily available when and where visitors need it, from local, knowledgeable tourism professionals in communities across the province. The yearly funding will support the creation of contemporary and innovative ways to connect with travellers online, and out and about in communities, providing the same level of exceptional service that people experience in BC’s Visitor Centres.”


Toronto, ON (October 27, 2021) – Choice Hotels Canada is pleased to announce the 2021 recipients of the Mark Pearce Memorial Scholarship: Rebecca MacNeill and Owen Kemp. Rebecca is currently in second year of the Management program at Southern Alberta Institute of Technology and began working as a front desk attendant at the Comfort Inn & Suites in Airdrie, Alberta earlier this year. Owen is the son of Nicole Owen, general manager of the Quality Inn & Conference Centre in Kingston, Ontario and is pursuing a career in hospitality, starting with the Travel & Tourism program at St. Clair College in Windsor, Ontario.

The scholarship was created in memory of Mark Pearce, who was Senior Vice President, International Division, for Choice Hotels International and former head of the Canadian office. Mark embodied the spirit of hospitality and always went above and beyond to make sure everyone felt 'Welcome, Wanted and Respected'. The $2,500 legacy scholarships are designated for post-secondary education in the hospitality and tourism industries.

“Rebecca has a true passion for hospitality and is dedicated to learning on the job and improving her skills, making her an ideal recipient for the scholarship,” said Brian Leon, president, Choice Hotels Canada. “And in opening the scholarship to our associates’ dependent children, we are hoping to inspire the next generation of hoteliers, like Owen Kemp, who we are delighted has decided to follow in his mother’s footsteps.”

“My mom has been in the hospitality industry since she was young and always gave me a different perspective on how to treat people, what happens behind the scenes and what hospitality truly means,” said Owen Kemp. “She has always talked about her experiences throughout her career and that has motivated me to head down a similar path.”

According to Lisa Leroy, general manager of the Comfort Inn & Suites in Ardrie, “Rebecca has been actively involved at the front desk and cross training between different departments. While making a fine contribution to the hotel, Rebecca has also shown real enthusiasm for her studies by going above and beyond the call of duty.”

The Mark Pearce Memorial Scholarship is intended to help support careers in the hospitality and tourism industry and elevate the next generation of industry leaders with a focus on hotel or restaurant management. Jointly funded by Choice Hotels Canada and the Choice Canada Franchise Advisory Board (CCFAB), applications are open to franchise owners, hotel level associates, Choice Hotels Canada head office staff, as well as their dependent children.

For more information and hotel reservations, visit


(Ottawa, ON) – Statement from Susie Grynol, President & CEO of the Hotel Association of Canada:

“Today, the Hotel Association of Canada is applauding the government for delivering on their election promise to provide the tourism, hotel, and events businesses the help they need to stay afloat and continue to maintain the highest level of employment possible. These new measures will help the very seasonal hotel industry through the winter to continue to pay its employees and fixed costs.

The hotel industry is among Canada’s hardest hit businesses. This industry was the first hit and will be the last to recover. Even as the economy reopens business, international and domestic travel will lag compared to other sectors in the economy. The new programs announced today will help hotels across the country stay afloat through a
difficult winter until we can reopen and welcome back millions of travelers in the spring.

Without survival support, up to 60% of our industry would have shuttered its doors making temporary job losses permanent. This announcement gives the hotel industry hope and a signal of strength that it can weather the storm until the Spring. We look forward to a strong rebound in the Spring when travel is wide open, vaccines rates are higher, mass gathering restrictions have been lifted.”


(OTTAWA) - The Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses is praising the new targeted support measures for businesses that are still facing significant pandemic-related challenges, including the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program and the Hardest- Hit Business Recovery Program, that were announced by the Trudeau government earlier today. We also applaud the announcement on the new international vaccine passport. These new initiatives will help support our hard-hit sector through the winter period, prioritizing job creation and a strong recovery of the travel economy.

“The federal government had Canadians’ backs throughout the pandemic,” said Beth Potter, President and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC). “Today, the government delivered on its election promise to provide the tourism, hotel, and

events businesses the help they need to survive, and to continue to maintain the highest levels of employment possible.”

“The tourism industry is the hardest hit industry. Even as the economy reopens, business and international travel will take time to recover,” said Susie Grynol, President and CEO of the Hotel Association of Canada (HAC). “The new programs announced today will help our members stay alive through a difficult winter until our expected recovery in the spring.”

The tourism, hotel, and events sectors are unique:

• Most global tourists visit Canada only in the summer. This international summer season was missed due to border restrictions;

• We have entered the off-season where domestic travel slows and Canadians travel south;

• Mass gathering restrictions mean that large events – festivals, conferences, live music – are prevented from operating;

• Key messages from government that “now is not the time to travel” are still in effect;

• Work from home has resulted in limited business travel.

Without continued support, many tourism, hotel and event businesses would have closed permanently, making temporary job losses permanent. This would have had a significant negative impact not only on the tourism industry, but Canada’s broader economic recovery overall. This announcement gives our industry hope as we work hard to achieve full recovery from the effects of the pandemic.


BWH Hotel Group announced today that David Kong, President and Chief Executive Officer, will be following in the footsteps of other industry giants and will be inducted into BTN Group’s Business Travel Hall of Fame later this year.

The Business Travel Hall of Fame established in 2011, honors distinguished business travel leaders that have had a profound impact on the travel category. Representing the lodging sector, Kong is following in the footsteps of industry giants, such as the founders of Hilton Hotels, Southwest Airlines, and JetBlue, the CEOs of American Airlines, British Airways, Avis, Hertz, and the Chairmen of Hyatt, Marriott, and Concur, among others. Kong, the longest serving CEO in the hotel industry, is being recognized as a trailblazer whose contributions will leave a lasting imprint on the travel industry.

“David’s induction into The BTN Group’s Business Travel Hall of Fame is a testament to the key role he has played as a leader and advocate in the business travel sector,” said Louis Magliaro, Executive Vice President/Group Publisher, The BTN Group. “His work to transform BWH Hotel Group into a global powerhouse has undoubtedly forever changed the landscape of the travel industry. With this recognition we are celebrating both David’s personal contributions, as well as the contributions of BWH Hotel Group, to our industry.”

“I am deeply honored to be recognized by BTN Group and inducted into the Business Travel Hall of Fame,” said Kong. “To be included among such a distinguished list of accomplished individuals is truly humbling. I am proud of the journey we have been on to become a hotel brand of choice for business travelers across the world. We have worked diligently to provide the diverse solutions our customers are seeking from expanding and contemporizing our product offerings to investing more than $2 billion in property improvements and renovations. As we celebrate our 75th anniversary, I am deeply grateful for the ongoing support and commitment of the travel buyer community and look forward to our ongoing partnership.”

Under Kong’s leadership, BWH Hotel Group has evolved into a modern and innovative global hospitality powerhouse. Today the hotel company offers 18 vibrant and exciting brands covering every chain scale segment from economy to luxury and every type of accommodation, including boutique/lifestyle and extended stay. Kong has grown the portfolio to include Best Western® Hotels & Resorts, SureStay Hotel Group® and WorldHotels Collection™.  With Kong’s guidance, BWH Hotel Group has become a trusted leader in business travel, earning a number of industry accolades, such as Best Western® and Best Western Plus® ranking as the number one midscale and number two upper-midscale hotel brands by Business Travel News.

Kong’s dedication to the travel industry extends beyond his work at BWH Hotel Group. He is a long-time active member of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA), serving as its chairman in 2010, and continuing to serve on the executive committee and the foundation’s Board of Trustees. In 2010, Kong was appointed to the United States Department of Commerce Travel and Tourism Advisory Board and served for three years.

In 2019 Kong was honored for his commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusivity by GBTA WINiT as Best Make Coach of The Year. In 2019 Kong was recognized for his innovation with Hotel Interactive and Guest Magazine both naming Kong Innovator of the Year. Kong also received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI) in 2014 and also the 2013 Stephen W. Brener Silver Plate Award at the NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference for his contributions to the resurgence of Best Western and services to the industry. Finally, he was also inducted into the University of Hawaii's Hall of Honor in 2013.


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