Photo contributed Jan. 27/16- Brian White

RRU helps shape province-wide tourism strategies

Real world work could see real world results in local industries

The Tourism Industry Association of B.C. and Royal Roads University are about to establish a partnership that could help revolutionize the province’s tourism industry.

The association announced last week the establishment of a new memorandum of understanding with the local school, to work with mid-career grad students on research that will help form and develop a number of initiatives within the industry.

“This is the top (tourism) organization in the province. It’s a big deal for us,” said Brian White, director of RRU’s school of tourism and hospitality management. “This is really important for Royal Roads.”

While White couldn’t release the specifics of the agreement, since it hasn’t officially been signed yet, he had no doubt the projects within it would be moving forward. He already has students interested in the work.

“We try to use the MOUs as an organizing framework,” he said. “We identify all the things the other party wants to know about and put it into a document.” That document then provides guidelines for students working on those specific projects.

Among the projects listed in the memorandum are: developing communication strategies within the “power of tourism story initiative,” shaping a provincewide tourism crisis plan, and conducting in-depth research on topics such as pipeline expansion and climate change and their potential implications on the province’s tourism industry.

“Tourism is a really critical piece in making B.C. successful in the service-based industries,” White said. “It’s one of the strongest economical forces in the (local) area.”

He noted the importance these projects will have locally if Greater Victoria experiences a crisis situation. “If we get a really big earthquake, (the research) will be a critical factor.”

He pointed to such examples as the tsunami in Thailand, the California wildfires and more recently, the sightseeing boat tragedy in Tofino.

“Very rarely have those societies been prepared to deal with the communication afterwards,” White said.

MOUs such as this one give organizations access to research projects they may not normally have the budget to take on on their own, he added.

Students in the grad program also have to complete a number of applied projects and White said this will have them “doing something useful and relevant in the real world.”

RRU grad students possess a wealth of knowledge, he said – the majority are in their 30s, 40s and 50s – and many have held high positions in a number of industries.

He added that the majority of the students aren’t from the local area, which adds another dimension to their perspective.

“They tend to be good researchers, they’re quite capable. I’m looking forward to it. It will be quite a useful project.”

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