Federal Election Forum Coming to Sooke

August 25, 2015

SOOKE – As the country prepares to vote in the upcoming federal election, the Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce that we are sponsoring and hosting the 2015 All Candidates Forum for the Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke electoral district on October 6th at the Prestige Oceanfront Resort.

We have previously hosted federal, provincial and municipal election forums the most recent being this past fall when over 400 citizens filled the venue to capacity. They came to hear what the candidates had to say on important issues affecting our community. 

In 2011, during the last federal election, we had an equally strong turn-out and we expect more of the same this time around. We believe hosting these forums is an important public service and a great way to contribute to the community while helping to ensure our democracy remains strong and the electorate informed. The candidates hear loud and clear from local residents and quickly learn which issues are important to the community. At the same time, citizens get to hear the candidates’ unfiltered answers and, hopefully, learn about where they stand.

There are literally dozens of issues that could be raised during the two-hour forum from investment in infrastructure, energy development, climate change, taxation and others. One issue I would like to see discussed at our All Candidates Forum is tourism. Sooke has a terrific and expanding tourism industry and we have a lot to offer international visitors. That being said, there are some very real impediments to our tourism competiveness as a country. 

A decade ago, Canada was in the top 5 of international tourist destinations; now, we are sixteenth. What has caused this significant drop in our ranking? Well, two of the main reasons are inadequate destination promotion and high costs. As a nation, we do not promote ourselves as a destination as effectively as some other countries do (Mexico and Australia, for example). Marketing campaigns should leverage the strong Canadian brand allowing us to aggressively compete in the global tourism market. Of course, to be really effective these campaigns must be coordinated at the national level. The high cost of travel in this country is another major drag on our tourism industry. Federally-regulated air travel in Canada is among the most expensive in the world with security and airport fees accounting for about 60% of the cost of a ticket. With such high costs to travel to Canada, international tourists are inclined to look elsewhere.

It is well within the mandate of the Federal government to address both of these issues and I for one would like to hear what the candidates have to say about improving our international tourism competitiveness.

Please join us on October 6th for what is sure to be an interesting and informative federal election forum. For more information please refer to our media release on the sookeregionchamber.com website.

– Sean Dyble is the President of the Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce and the owner of 120 West Management Consulting. He can be reached at 250-642-6112.

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