The training and experience I gained from working for a decade in the hospitality industry is an important part of my journey in community service.
Today I acknowledged those years and raised my hands to the people who helped shape those experiences for me. In addition, in this time when the tourism and hospitality industry is facing so many existential threats due to COVID-19 I lift up the hospitality and tourism operators, business owners and workers.
FIRST JOBS AND SKILLS DEVELOPMENT IN TOURISM
Today I stand to honour part of the journey that got me here. Community service was a value instilled in me by my grandparents. The craft was taught to me by patient, professional people who walked their talk.
Imagine how I felt as a 16-year-old kid, one of hundreds hired for the summer at Butchart Gardens. When I showed up to my first shift, the owner, Mr. Ross, was in the dish pit in the dining room. He was there to welcome me and show me that no job in the gardens is too great or too small, an impression so deeply lodged that I recount it with ease today.
The hospitality and tourism industry is about impressions, experiences, thrills, moments, emotions — the dorsal fin cresting out of the Salish Sea, a grizzly bear or a coastal wolf fishing in a delta, wrapping your arms around one of the earth’s most ancient creatures: a majestic Douglas fir or a western red cedar.
It’s the industry that taught a stinking teenage boy grooming habits and how to iron a shirt. The skills that I need in my job as an MLA, how to fearlessly knock on doors, read the energy of a room and how to effortlessly balance dozens of pressing issues — they all come to me from the training and experience that I got waiting tables.
The tourism and hospitality industry packages and delivers “Super Natural British Columbia.” It’s one of the reasons we work so hard to keep British Columbia super and natural. What are we without the dorsal fins and the old growth forests?
COVID-19 has hit the hospitality and tourism sector hard. The recovery is not a sprint but a marathon. To the people working in the hospitality industry, thank you. I see you. To the investors who have poured your life into creating great food and unforgettable experiences, I hear you, and I know. Seeing you and hearing you is just the start.