Cultural tourism & marketing in the Comox Valley

The Comox Valley (CV) has a rich and vibrant creative community that makes this area unique to Vancouver Island, British Columbia and in turn, the rest of the country. From world renowned Indigenous artists, live theatre, music, and visual arts to the future graduates of North Island College Fine Arts, the CV is an inclusive environment that fosters collaboration, creativity, and commerce between many of its community members. This diverse, open, and creative community is one of the many reasons thousands of tourists are drawn here from around the country and the globe each year. Within this expansive tourism sector – the arts, culture and heritage play a key part in the economic expansion of the CV both directly though dollars spent on artistic experiences and products as well as the ancillary spending that occurs though more traditional tourism indicators such as overnight hotel stays, restaurant spending etc.

With tourism being such a key economic driver for many communities across the province the competition for those dollars tends to pit each municipality or region against each other. When combined with initiatives such as the Municipal and Regional District Tax (MRDT) program, we begin to see a need for an effective and collaborative approach to attracting tourists. One that includes ongoing input from all economic and cultural sectors through the valley focused on a balanced and proportionate approach to exposure, marketing, and funding.

The following report aims to emphasize the importance of arts and cultural tourism in the CV while highlighting some of the perceived strengths and identified gaps within the current tourism and marketing approaches, funding models and their related distribution. It is the intent of this report to provide an analysis of the current situations while also providing a path forward through partnerships and collaboration, that will provide support to arts, culture, and heritage contributors.