By Surbhi Gogia
Yes the time has arrived the world gets to know what true Surrey is. Like every other big city it has its challenges with crime, but many are unaware of its treasure. Just a stone’ throw from downtown Vancouver but miles away from congested roads and rush hour traffic, BC’s second-largest city Surrey, caters to those seeking natural retreats and state-of-the art urban amenities. The city has more than 600 parks and greenbelts, golf courses, and sports facilities. With more than 2300ha/5680ac of designated parkland, Surrey has earned the nickname of “The City of Parks.” Over the past few years, city’s boost towards development has witnessed a spurt in tourists too. Like the city itself, the tourism department of Surrey is undergoing some major changes to bring together everything that Surrey has to offer its visitors. Discover Surrey is the new brand name. In an exclusive interview with Desi Today, Jane Starke, marketing manager, Discover Surrey, explains the vision behind this new approach.
How has the tourism industry in Surrey grown over the past few years?
We have seen major growth in Surrey in general over the past few years. With over 1200 new residents per year moving to Surrey it is bound to make an impact on tourism. We are seeing many new and innovative businesses open their doors, expanding the product offering and enhancing the experience this city offers.
The City of Surrey has been very focused on development with the creation of Innovation Boulevard and 3 Civic Plaza up in North Surrey and the significant investment they have made throughout the community into facilities for residents and visitors. Surrey offers some of the best sports facilities in the lower mainland and as a result we have seen a significant increase in our sport tourism market.
Finally, I would say that while Surrey receives its fair share of negative press, it is not unlike any other city in that it has it’s challenging areas but it also has some incredible spots and things to do for both residents and visitors from near and far. We are starting to see this positive story be told.
2) What are some of the unique features of tourism in Surrey?
There’s so much that Surrey offers: the eclectic mix of urban development and rural farmland, the multicultural culinary scene, the golf, the parks… but what really sets Surrey apart is the people. People who are proud, diverse and authentic.
3) How many tourists nationally and internationally does Surrey attract annually? Approximately how much revenue does it generate annually as compared to other Lower Mainland cities?
Our mission as the official destination marketing organization (DMO) for Surrey is to increase overnight stays and spend within the community. As each community is different in the way they are funded, the markets they attract and the product they have, we don’t benchmark against them as much as we look at our own growth. We have continued to see significant year over year increases (in the 7-8% range) for occupancy in the community for the past three years.
4) Tourism Surrey has recently been focusing on rebranding. Can you elaborate more on why this action?
It was time. Surrey has changed, evolved and grown up as a community and we needed to do the same. So, we set out with intent of creating a fresh and engaging brand that would more accurately reflect the community that Surrey has evolved into. We are currently undergoing a full website re-development project and will be launching a completely updated website this fall that will be the next iteration of the new Discover Surrey brand. In the meantime we have updated our logo on our current site.
We’ve traded ‘corporate’ for ‘approachable’ and ‘bland’ for ‘authentic’, and created something that visitors and residents can identify with. It’s a brand that ‘connects the dots’ by bringing Tourism Surrey’s programs together with one style and one purpose – to encourage people to visit Surrey. The new brand is malleable, identifiable and reflects our brand promise and over the next few weeks we’ll make the transition from ‘Tourism Surrey’ to ‘Discover Surrey’.
Behind every new discovery is a story – a journey, an experience, the start of something special… We’re proud to be telling Surrey’s story. It’s one we’re excited about, because it’s constantly growing and evolving. Now, we’re inviting our visitors (and our residents) to be a part of Surrey’s story, and to tell their own. They can use #TrueSurrey and share their story today on any of our social channels.
Maybe you’re here on a weekend getaway with the family, a trip with your sports team or here for a conference. Maybe you’ve just moved to the city, anticipating the start of an exciting new chapter. The one thing every story has in common is that it takes place in Surrey. Our big, burgeoning city is the starting point for something special.
5) What are some of the strategies board would be adopting to promote the city as a tourist destination nationally and internationally
We just completed a new five-year strategic plan that will be adopted in 2017. A couple of highlights include; a continued and expanded focus on Sport Tourism. There would be an even heavier focus on digital marketing and metrics and finding the right mix of online and offline marketing. In the next few years we will have the opportunity to shift some of our focus to international markets by speaking to the many guests of Surrey residents that come to visit family from afar. It is a clearly a multicultural destination and it has so much to offer along those lines that many regions do not. As we strengthen our hold in current markets we definitely see this as a new opportunity.