Destination BC and Tourism Innovation Lab are working together with local tourism partners to “Spark” new tourism ideas and initiatives in four areas of British Columbia, beginning in the West Kootenay and Sea-to-Sky areas.
The “Spark” Mentorships & Grants Program is designed to help tourism entrepreneurs, small businesses and non-profit organizations overcome challenges and barriers often experienced in bringing new tourism products to life. Previous program participants in Ontario were selected for water-based ecotours, agritourism initiatives, Indigenous tourism programs, wine and culinary workshops, interactive walking tours, virtual experiences, aerial adventures, winter glamping retreats, nature orientated vacation packages, and more.
The goal is to find, foster and support innovative tourism ideas, experiences and partnerships that will enhance current offerings, address gaps or challenges, motivate travel and longer stays, and increase year-round visits.
The program works by matching selected applicants with a tourism mentor, providing a $3,000 seed grant as well as additional partner support to help develop new tourism experiences. Applications are encouraged from entrepreneurs, small businesses and non-profit organizations in the four defined program areas, as they are launched throughout the year, starting with the West Kootenay “Spark” Program launch on June 23, followed by the Sea-to-Sky launch on September 1, 2021.
The “Spark” Program was first launched in Ontario in 2018 by the Tourism Innovation Lab and is now expanding to British Columbia supported by Destination BC. For more information on the “Spark” Mentorships & Grants Program visit: www.tourisminnovation.ca/british-columbia
Richard Porges, Interim President & CEO, Destination BC
“The Spark program is an exciting new partnership that will drive innovation in local tourism products. With travellers’ growing appetite for new experiences creating opportunities for industry to generate new activities and revenue, we are delighted to work with Tourism Innovation Lab and local partners to develop new tourism offerings, adding value to BC communities and increasing our province’s competitiveness. Entrepreneurs play an important role in our economy, and small businesses make up the foundation of our province, and this program will go a long way in developing promising tourism ideas that otherwise may not be realized.”
Justin Lafontaine, Program Lead, Tourism Innovation Lab
“We are thrilled to be partnering with Destination British Columbia to bring the “Spark” Program to BC. Our shared goal is to inspire and support new tourism ideas and entrepreneurs to grow the tourism sector and offerings in participating regions.”
Kathy Cooper, CEO, Kootenay Rockies Tourism
“Kootenay Rockies Tourism is pleased to be the first region in BC to offer the “Spark” Program to tourism businesses. This launch in the West Kootenay will provide businesses with a unique opportunity to build on their existing products and enhance the value of the experiences they are providing to visitors. We believe providing this opportunity to create some unique new offerings will complement the existing compelling product the West Kootenay businesses are currently providing their visitors.”
Lesley Weeks, Executive Director, Tourism Squamish
“Tourism Squamish is thrilled to be participating in this program and keen to spark and support new ideas that will help to create opportunities for the tourism industry and address gaps in our current offerings to make tourism in the Sea to Sky region more innovative, diverse and sustainable. We encourage everyone who has an idea to learn more and consider applying.”
About the Tourism Innovation Lab:
The Tourism Innovation Lab is a non-profit initiative created to find, foster and support new tourism ideas, experiences and partnerships, to cultivate and propel collaborations between the tourism and tech sectors, and to build a community of tourism innovators, idea makers and entrepreneurs. Launched in Ontario in 2018, the Lab and its “Spark” Mentorships & Grants Program are expanding to British Columbia. The Tourism Innovation Lab is a program of Hackforge and is based at the University of Windsor-EPICentre. For more information, please visit: https://www.tourisminnovation.ca
About Destination BC:
Destination BC is a provincially funded, industry-led Crown corporation that supports a strong and competitive future for BC’s tourism industry through a combination of global marketing, destination development, industry learning, cooperative community-based programs, and visitor servicing. Destination BC receives approximately $52 million each year from the Province of BC. This investment helps to improve the visitor experience, support businesses and communities, and strengthen BC’s worldwide reputation as a destination of choice. For more information about Destination BC’s programs and services, please visit: http://www.DestinationBC.ca/
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